Match Making Phase 3 ELO summary:
Right now matchmaking in MWO is almost totally random. The only thing the match maker tries to do when you load is make each team have the same number of mechs by class. So if one team has 6 assaults 1 heavy and 1 light, the other team will as well. The match maker also has a separate queue for 8 man teams to be matched with other 8 man teams. That's all there is to it. There is no consideration of skill, past performance or anything else going into matching you with your team mates or your opponents.
The last patch added a behind the scenes ELO rating system to MWO. This system has been tracking each players performance and maintaining a hidden rating for them. The ratings are on a scale of 0 to 2800 and you started with a rating of 1300. That rating has gone up and down based on your match wins, and match losses. The rating has not been used for matchmaking yet, but starting on Feb 19th, it will be. Starting then, when you load a battle, the match maker is going to try to pair you with team mates, and opponents of similar skill.
What has been verified by PGI:
1) Only match wins and losses effect your ELO. Kills, K/D ratio, damage numbers, etc, have no bearing.
2) Your ELO ratings will be hidden and you won't be able to see them.
3) Your ELO rating is combined with your team mates, and it is that average ELO rating that is used to determine your rating gain or loss after the match.
4) You will maintain multiple different ELO ratings to further improve the accurate of the system. There will be separate ratings either by mech chassis or mech class, and potentially by game type (assault or conquest) as well.
5) The ELO system will widen the acceptable matching range the longer you are waiting to find a match, so match ups against players of much higher or lower skill may still be possible, though uncommon.
What has been implied by PGI:
It has been implied that ELO is used to determine both your team mates and your opponents and that teams will have generally similar ELO numbers. This has not been specifically stated however.
What is still unknown:
PGI has stated that some other factors are also going to affect matchmaking. They have stated that Mech Equipment (such as ECM) will not be factor, but are unclear on what the other factors may be.
PGI has also not mentioned if pre-made groups will have an ELO modifier (like they do in League of Legends). If they don't, there will be some lopsidedness as I mention in the next section.
What Match Making Phase 3 will do:
If the new system works as intended, it will give most players a near 50% win rate for non 8v8 matches. It will make the majority of the matches you play happen with team mates of similar skill and against enemies of similar skill.
What Match Making Phase 3 won't do:
Phase 3 does not explicitly remove pre-made 2, 3, and 4 man groups from PUG matches. PUG players will still be matched against pre-made groups. But the PUG experience definitely should change; see below
Good, Bad, and Everything In-between: What YOU should personally expect:
How Match Making Phase 3 will change your experience depends greatly on two things. Your skill at the game, and if you play as a solo puger or in groups. And ACE, I have some bad news. The better you are at MWO, the less you will like what ELO brings to you.
These are the players (like me) who never group and always play solo.
Low Skill: If you are a below average MWO player, say bottom 30% as far as skill, your experience should improve the most. Right now, you are almost always matched up against players that are better than you. And even though you are only 1/8th of the team, and your team mates may be good and win the match, that does not keep you from getting blown to bits against more skilled pilots you run into. The new ELO system should mean that both your team and the enemy team are at about the same skill level. Low ELO matches will likely never have pre-made groups in them, since group players will rarely get into the low ratings. I expect low ELO matches to be a lot of 1 one 1 and small group fights since players with good team work skills will also not fall into the low ELO bracket. It should be a lot of fun!
Average Skill: If you are a "fair to middlin" kind of player, ELO should really improve your situation. The vast majority of matches at this skill level should only rarely have 3 or 4 man pre made groups in them, because those players will maintain a better than average ELO. This means that you can experience MWO pugging as it should be. A bunch of similar pug players that are at least somewhat proficient in the game. In game teamwork and communication should be somewhat present. Steam rolls will still happen but should be less common. You are going to be saying "GG" a lot, win or lose, because everything will be less lopsided
High Skill: If you are a highly skilled solo player, things may get a little uncomfortable after ELO, but still be workable. Right now you probably do very well in most matches, but still get steam rolled by 4 man groups. After ELO you will be playing even more pre-made groups than you do now. It is likely you will have a pre-made on your own team more often now as well, but you will be an odd man out and not have a lot of say in the direction of the match. You will still get some pure PUG matches, but they will be against other good players so you won't get as many kills as you are used to.
Elite Skill: If you are a highly skilled player but only play solo PUG games, I expect phase 3 is going to give you a lot of problems. Right now you are probably always #1 or #2 in score for your team, win or lose. In true PUG on PUG matches, you frequently get your team the win. In PUG on 4man matches, your team probably still loses most of the time, but you go down swinging. Because of this, after ELO goes in, you are going to live on the edge of the pre-made ELO bubble. You are going to get placed into a lot of matches with pre-made teams on both sides, but you won't be on team speak with your pre-made team mates. Instead of crushing lower skilled pugers like you do now, you will have to fight players that are individually less skilled than you are, but are always working as a group. As a result, you will keep bouncing in and out of the pre-made bubble, dipping into PUG land to collect some skulls before rating back up into the pre-made matches. Elite players will hit a glass ceiling on ELO and likely need to join pre-made groups to advance further.
These are the players who spend the majority of their time in 3 or 4 person pre-made groups, with or without voice communication. Skill level here refers to the average skill of your group.
Low Skill: If you and your pre-made friends are below average skill, then you, like the elite solo players, are going to be bouncing in and out of the mid-high ELO pre-made bubble. You will play matches against average and good PUG players, and win a little more often then not. Then you will rate into matches against other pre-made groups that will push your ELO back down a bit. Compared to what you have now, you will get fewer wins and kills, but not drastically so. Unlike the elite solo player, you will probably enjoy this placement, since it will be challenging and push you and your team to get better.
Average and High Skill: Pre-mades of average and high skill are going to get the biggest reality check in MWO history, but one that most players will hopefully enjoy. Instead of crushing PUGs all day and having 90%+ win rates, you are going to be playing other pre-made groups much much more often. As a result, your win rates are going to plummet to near 50% (that is the point of ELO after all). I expect that while a few players will be upset their gravy train as run dry, most will be very happy to actually play challenging matches. I predict this balancing of 4 mans will have a side effect of greatly advancing the MWO metagame, as the newly challenged groups come up with new strategy they never had to bother with before.
Elite Skill: Not much will change for the elite 4 man groups. You dominate 99% of your matches now, and after ELO you will still dominate a good 90% of them. This is because the pool of elite 4 mans is very small so match making will be often be forced to place you with good, but not elite 4 man opponents. Your view from the top won't change much, at least until 12 v 12 is implemented.
For these predictions, I am expecting (like a lot of people) an ELO "bubble" will form in the middle of high ELO land where almost all the 4 man groups will end up. This bubble will happen because a 4 man group of average, or even a little below average skill will usually beat a 4 man random group. This means that 3 and 4 man groups will ride ELO out of PUG land and straight into a new "4 man and elite solo players" ELO range. If the 4 man group gets beat down out of this bubble, they are just going to beat more pugs and move back into it. PGI has mentioned that players will have multiple ELO ratings, so if there is a "In a 4 man" rating separate from your "Playing Solo" rating, you may only play in the bubble while you are actually in a 4 man group.
PGI can prevent this problem in a few different ways, but I have not seen them mention that they are going to implement any of measures.
TLDR; ELO will make the game more fun for almost everyone, and the 4 man gravy train is almost over.
Wow that was way more words than I expected. Thanks for reading. If I missed info or got something wrong please let me know.
I wanted to mention a few more topics that have come up several times in this thread.
Why Elo is measured only by Win/Loss:
There are a lot of people complaining that Elo should be using factors other than Win/Loss, such as kills, kill/death ratio, or damage numbers. The confusion here is the assumption that your Elo ranting is a "Skill Rating". While Elo rating definitely has a very high coloration to skill, the actual point of the rating is to determine the probability that one player (or group of players) will beat another group, not to determine who is "better". There are play styles, mech loadouts, and game type differences that make it difficult to guess who will win based off stats like kills and damage. The Elo system does not exist to give you a Skill assessment it exists to predict who will win a match based on past wins/losses, and then match make with that in mind. If it used kills, damage, etc, it would be very bad at predicting the impact of people using fringe build's and tactics.
Elo will be invisible, for now: PGI has stated that Elo ranks will not be visible to players for now, and a lot of people don't like this. I totally understand that, because since Win/Loss stats will stabilize to near 50% for the vast majority of players, it makes sense to have something to visible to tell you if you are getting better. For now it appears PGI is only focusing on match making concerns, and is not trying to add a visible player ranking system to the game, though they said they have not ruled out making Elo ranks visible in the future.
Elo is not a ladder you climb:
A typical Elo rank distribution looks something like this:
As you can see, it's not a big pool of people at the bottom that then try to climb to the top. It is very much a bell curve, with more than half the players occupying a fairly narrow rating range right in the middle. You really have to be exceptionally good or bad to get outside of this range. For most players, "getting good" at the game will simply mean they move to a tad right of the top of the bell curve. To get to the upper ranges will require a lot of practice and coordination, mixed with natural skill. I just want people to be aware of this, and know that it's perfectly normal to live in the middle.
Edited by 80Bit, 18 February 2013 - 08:57 AM.