Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 is a much different beast than its predecessor, and in many ways, has split the community at large. That’s due to a number of controversial design choices. However, many players seem to agree that Warzone 2.0 needs a Ranked mode, much like previous Call of Duty multiplayer counterparts like Black Ops Cold War, Vanguard, and soon-to-be Modern Warfare II.
Ranked mode utilizes the same ruleset as the Call of Duty League (CDL), and is geared toward competitive play. As you accumulate wins, your rank increases, but if you lose, it goes down. This gives players a clear indication of their rank, without any guesswork.
It’s not a superfluous request from fans eager for more content. A Ranked mode — if executed properly — could alleviate many of the ongoing frustrations players have with Warzone 2.0. Though it’s unclear if such a mode is in the works for the battle royale game, it’s something Activision might want to consider as a way to protect newcomers while keeping veterans engaged.
Before diving into how Ranked play could work, it’s important to explain how the current matchmaking system works — or at least, how it feels like it works. Skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) aims to even the playing field by pairing you up with similarly skilled players. It’s there to keep newcomers safe from seasoned pros while adding an element of fairness across each match.
The problem with that system is that it’s currently unclear what metrics are used to categorize each player into a specific skill bracket. A match can still feel unfair, even if the game deems most players to be “equal.” You might find yourself getting randomly paired with below-average players in your squad, while still facing off against highly skilled opponents within the same match (which seems to happen often).
While the low-skilled players are almost always protected in this sense, veterans are often thrown into matches that require an immense amount of concentration and effort to even compete, which isn’t always fun. Given the game’s slow pacing by default and just how difficult the lobbies typically are, players are discouraged from moving around, further slowing the pacing to a halt.
Full stop, Warzone 2.0’s current matchmaking system is not fun for above-average players. Getting thrown into lobbies against highly skilled players causes each match to feel tense and anxiety-inducing, with almost no variation. It’s even worse when playing Solos, since you don’t have anyone to rely on. Sure, playing in highly competitive matches alongside your friends in Duos, Trios, or Quads can be fun, but if you’re on your own, you’re at a disadvantage.
While SBMM makes sense, the way it’s executed in Warzone 2.0 is strict and doesn’t seem to work as well as you’d expect — to the point of not being fun, at least for some players. Introducing a Ranked mode alongside an unranked option could offer the best of both worlds, allowing for both super competitive and casual play.
A Ranked mode could still give players an opportunity to sweat it out against other equally skilled foes — while a casual or unranked mode could allow for more varied, less stressful matches depending on your skill level. A casual mode could also significantly reduce wait times, as the game theoretically wouldn’t need to search for any specific types of players.
Ideally, SBMM would be completely removed in casual mode, offering a wider variety of match types. One game, you might get matched up with lots of newcomers, the next might be a bit harder, while the one after that could be a mix of the two.
Ranked, on the other hand, could feature much tighter SBMM to give players more of a fair challenge. The nice thing about ranking systems in multiplayer games is that a player’s rank will naturally decrease as they start reaching their skill ceiling, placing them back into lobbies with similarly-skilled players. With the current SBMM system, even after several losses, it still seems like the lobbies remain the same, which is frustrating.
The implementation of an unranked mode without SBMM enabled might seem intimidating, especially to newcomers. But in looking at the data, the average kill/death ratio (KD) of any lobby is actually lower than you might expect. While there aren’t hard stats for Warzone 2.0 since it’s still so new, we can evaluate what an average match might look like based on the original Warzone.
YouTuber JGOD (in conjunction with WZRanked) compiled a list of the average KD in the original Warzone, which, as of May 2022, sits between 0.6 and 0.9. So, if a casual mode were implemented in Warzone 2.0, you should expect a similar average KD across the board. This means many newcomers would still be able to compete in lobbies without SBMM.
A casual mode would give certain players more of a challenge while allowing experts to take it easy. And if a player feels like the lobby is either too hard or too easy, they’d always have Ranked mode to fall back on — placing them in a fairer match. A casual mode could also let players experiment with weapon types, earn XP and attachments, and practice strategies before implementing them in the competitive Ranked mode.
Given the state of Warzone 2.0 now, it’s unlikely a Ranked mode will come any time soon — if at all. It seems like even straightforward mechanics are falling by the wayside, even highly requested ones like being able to run while applying armor plates. Though if Activision is going to turn its fortune around, bold additions like this might be what Warzone 2.0 needs to stay competitive.