I've been a Paladins player for over 4 years and have over 2000+ hours on the game. The game has SO much going for it. Great character design, fun kits, (mostly) unique skins, fun gameplay mechanics... But the ONE thing that is removing players FAST is the matchmaking. I've taken a short look at this forum for the first time and viewed other posts and rants, and can honestly say I'm disappointed for several reasons:
It seems little-to-no feedback has been taken into account regarding matchmaking.
No Hi-Rez/EvilMojo representatives acknowledge any of these matchmaking posts/criticisms besides...
Satire in the form of rage threads that go to no use.
After four years of playing this game, I've come to the sad conclusion that the matchmaking is the primary reason why players are leaving, and is likely the reason why my friends and I will be moving on from the game.
I've made several observations recently regarding the matchmaking in the game:
It is heavily based off of account level.
Queuing in parties significantly increases match difficulty, regardless of who's in the party.
Quick queue times are prioritized over balanced matchmaking.
When I first started playing the game, matchmaking never stood out to me. Matches always seemed fun and learning new characters was never super difficult, considering I was playing with people of almost equal skill. The higher my account level climbed, the more and more matchmaking stood out as the game's major issue.
Since there are more players who are trying out the game rather than veterans like myself, the game will have a much larger player pool to work with. When your rank is this low, you can pretty much guarantee that every other player will lack skill to some capacity. While I didn't notice that when initially ranking up in Paladins, I unfortunately came to notice it while smurfing on a second account (which mind you was a VERY painful process, since you have to wait for a customer service reply to relink accounts via Steam.)
When every other player is bad, you can almost guarantee a decent match in lower ranks. If not, a player's casual ELO (if that even exists in this game) can be adjusted accordingly and they will find likely find better matches since the player pool is large enough to support it.
Here is where the game's most fatal flaw lies: There are fewer higher-ranked players in the game for the matchmaking to draw from. I just played five consecutive matches with the same 4-stack, (this was checked in PaladinsGuru.) Almost every match, we got stomped. Not only did this happen just today, but I had extremely similar experiences the past week. I was in a party of 4-5 every match.
Not only did it seem like our party's skill level was not taken into account, but it also seemed the game literally had no other players to draw from. We even tried queue-dodging the party we were up against, but we still were matched against them. I can't help that I have 3-4 other friends that want to play the game with me and want to have a good time.
Regardless of whether we were up against a pro party of players or an inexperienced party of players, this kind of matchmaking is UNACCEPTABLE. Parties do not need to always be matched with parties, and casual ELO needs to be taken greater account of. I would rather take a longer queue time or not play the game entirely than get matched with the same 4 players every match because that gets stale, regardless of whether we win or lose.
The game can't find other players to match us with for this exact reason. Players are leaving. Players with higher ranks are coming to realize that there are better things to be doing than losing more matches than they win. They realize that this game is not worth it. They realize that the matchmaking is bad. You can play a match perfectly and it won't matter because you get out-drafted or a familiar group knows how to play against you/your champion or because you are getting matched with seasoned grandmasters, but you just want to have fun in casual and enjoy the game.
If me or my party loses 4 matches in a row, the game should be able to swiftly acknowledge that and place us in a significantly easier game to increase our chances winning and wanting to keep playing. But since player pools are low, we get matched with the same people every/every other match, people get sick of it, stop playing, and the cycle continues. Higher-ranked players are stuck in this loop of poor matchmaking and empty queues. Your experienced players are arguably your most important players - and they cannot log into the game and have fun like they once could.
If matchmaking in Paladins is not addressed soon, the game will die. This game is lucky enough to have a small community of players so news regarding matchmaking doesn't get widely spread. But eventually, newer players will enjoy the game, rank up, and slowly come to the same fate we all have. Heck, tons of Pro Players have moved on to other games, content creators have lost interest, and those creators that are still playing have lost their passion or have moved on to playing locked subscriber games so they can guarantee fair matchmaking.
Yes, the devs have a roadmap of features to add to the game and have planned this games future out to keep things fresh. But these features will mean nothing if the core Paladins experience remains poor.
Games are meant to be played to have fun. Not to get tilted every time we log into the game. Winning is fun. Losing 5 matches in a row to the same group of people every other game, is not. I would love to pick up a new champion and maybe take an in-depth look at a class I haven't learned yet to keep things fresh and enjoyable, but I am forced to pick my best champions all the time because I'm unsure who I'm playing against or whether the game will pair me fairly.
I've tried so hard to wake up every morning with a fresh look on the game and hope for the best when I play with my friends. I've tried that everyday for the past week. I want to like this game still.
Paladins has such a fun, vibrant, and irreplaceable cast of characters that I don't want to give up. A unique in-game voice system via VGS, refined game modes, interesting and unique champion designs and kits are things drawing towards the game.
I seriously want to keep playing this game and enjoying it with friends, since it's been a staple of my friend group for such a long time. So many great memories were made. But so many terrible memories unfortunately were made as well.
If things don't change, this game will inevitably continue to lose loyal players, support and lifespan.
Please. Fix. Your. Game.