Destiny's PvP Matchmaking Has Been Weirder Than Ever

Destiny's PvP Matchmaking Has Been Weirder Than Ever

Along with the new Taken King expansion, Bungie fine-tuned Destiny's PvP matchmaking. It's not yet clear whether that has been an improvement.

I've been playing more and more PvP lately. It's a logical progression — the PvE stuff has reached a predictable tempo for me, so I've been getting ready for Trials of Osiris and Iron Banner to come back next week. Generally speaking, I'm having a great time with the new maps, modes, and subclasses. I'm psyched to see how it all shakes out in IB and Trials.

I'm less sold on the new matchmaking system. (For those not in the know, matchmaking is the behind-the-scenes stat-comparing that a competitive game does to pair players against similarly skilled players.) Year two's matchmaking has been billed as an improvement over year one. While I'm sure most of the new stuff is happening out of sight, there are some new visible changes, too: The game now more actively breaks up teams after lopsided matches, and the new "mercy rule" ends a match early if either team runs away with the score.

I like both of those ideas in theory, but in practice, I've had a rougher go of it. I'll often get dropped into in-progress matches, and when I do, I'm almost always on the losing team. I'll stick it out and let that match end, and the game will tell me it's breaking those teams up to find a better matchup. Then… well, sometimes I'll then be dropped into another in-progress game — on another already losing team — and we'll lose again. Other times I'll be on a losing team and in our next match-up, I'll see my team's best player has been moved over to the opposing team.

Just yesterday, I was dropped into an in-progress salvage match for the daily Crucible playlist. Everyone had heavy ammo but me, because I'd just joined. I walked to where my teammates were and was quickly killed by a Titan who'd been playing long enough to have his super ability charged. I respawned and was shot again. Then Shaxx called the match. I played for a total of about 60 seconds before we lost. (At least I got my marks for the day…)

Destiny's PvP Matchmaking Has Been Weirder Than Ever

When I go and play Destiny PvP by myself — as opposed to playing in a fireteam with friends — I generally find myself on losing teams. I haven't been keeping close track, but anecdotally I'd say that when playing solo, I lose seven or eight out of every 10 Control or Rift games that I join. Three-player game-types like Salvage and Elimination are much worse. Half the time, the match doesn't even fully play out — once my team starts losing, players will just start quitting, which effectively ends the match for everyone.

The obvious explanation for my losing tendencies is that I'm the problem, since I'm the only thing all those matches had in common. But even that (depressing) conclusion doesn't add up — sometimes I'm in the middle of the pack, but other times, I'm our team's all-star. It doesn't really seem to make a difference.

Furthermore, most matches I'm in are extremely lopsided. If I'm winning in Control, we're dominating the other team. If I'm losing, my team is getting crushed. Every now and then I'll get in a really close Control or Rift match, and it will be exciting and fun. But a lot of games are routs.

There are a number of other possible explanations for all this. My experience could just be unique. It could be that there are a bunch of new players in the game now, and the matchmaking system doesn't have enough data to reliably make good matches. It might be that if we all just stuck with it and stayed in matchmaking instead of regularly pulling out after losing games, the system would be better able to do its job. (I'm surprised Crucible playlists don't have a stacking "streak" buff for better loot like the Vanguard playlists have.) It could also be that I feel like I'm losing more than I am; this could partly be in my head.

I'm also betting that Lord Shaxx's onerous, seemingly endless Crucible quest is contributing some instability to Crucible in general. Many of that quest line's objectives hinge on winning matches. That means players will be more likely to bail on losing games to save themselves time; losing teammates mid-match is almost always a guaranteed loss for anyone left behind.

I've seen plenty of players talking about similar experiences online; most prominently in a lengthy reddit thread from last week. I asked Bungie if they could explain in more detail how matchmaking works, but couldn't get any new answers.

I thought I'd ask those of you out there what your year two PvP experience has been like. Am I crazy? Is matchmaking in fact weirder than usual? Or maybe you've had smooth sailing? How has Destiny's PvP matchmaking been working for you?


    There's a very simple explanation as to why you keep ending up on the losing side in in-progress matches: People quit when their team is losing, thus freeing up a spot. That spot is what you take.

    I've found that matches are taking an extremely long time to start. No bullshit, I waited for 5 minutes the other night between Rift games before the next game started. It's ridiculous.

      Haha, 5 mins? I'll wait an avg of 20 mins for BTB matches to connect and start in Halo MCC.

      Seems to depend on the game mode and time of day. I find modes like Skirmish and Salvage seem to take longer because I think less people play them. Whereas Rumble/Control/Clash I rarely have to wait long. Also, trying to Crucible on a Saturday or Sunday morning seems difficult, because I'm guessing no one's on.

    Matchmaking has been great - noticably improved. The issue I'm encountering is people quitting 30 seconds into a game if they're not winning straight out of the gate. Then you join into losing matches constantly. Apart from the obvious explanation of people just being jerkoffs - the other cause I'm fairly certain is the Crucible questline - whoever designed that needs a good slap in the face. It's manageable in a lot of stages - but it gets to a point where you just need a bunch of wins, in every game mode. So when people aren't winning, they quit. Then you join a match with no chance of recovery, and lose endlessly.

    Crucible needs some form of debuff/cooldown for quitting prematurely. I'm sure it wouldn't be easy to implement, say punishing someone incorrectly if they get dc'd - but man. Something's gotta stop the quitters - it ruins it for everyone.

    Other than that though, the game modes themselves and the matchmaking have been great. It's just people ruining it at the moment.

      Totally agree here, I got dropped into a match last night (clash mayhem) in which my team was losing by about 4000 points. Not a big deal in mayhem because the points are 1000 a kill plus whatever other medals come with it. I realised I was probably filling in for someone who quit because they weren't winning straight off the bat as it was only early in the game. The opposing team was absolutely terrible. Like I normally just assume they've got connection issues or are just off their game this match...but this was different, like they were just not trying. My team wasn't that crash hot either, but carry-able. Three supers, a few snipes and a cheeky 'nade stick later and we were forcing the mercy rule. If that guy I replaced was serious he'd know that a game can be turned around in the dying seconds of a match...shit, I've won a skirmish match by 50 points (a revive)...which leads me to believe that people are just quitting matches because they want to be jerks. I'm not saying that the team I was on wouldn't have won if I wasn't there (26 kills with a 3.7 K/D with the player below me at 17 kills with a 1.?? K/D) they just wouldn't have hit the mercy rule. I left crucible after that match as I was just waiting for reset and had 10 minutes to go...
      This was the better side of most of my recent crucible escapades, most of the time I'll get dropped into a losing match and it gets progressively worse despite how well I occasionally perform.

      Crucible is way better than what it was, rarely do I get killed by the same weapon twice in a row. Way better than pretty much guarantee'd long range death via the thorn sniper, or the inevitable blast of death across a room from felwinters/partycrasher & co. The shotguns are still pretty powerful...but not nearly as ridiculous as before. It seems the best weapon in the crucible at the moment is Red Death...but not by a huge margin.

        Yes. The outcome of some games can change in seconds. Which is why quitting at the beginning is such a brainless act. I'd also much rather a hard-fought loss than one where everyone quits or rolls over and dies in the first minute. Over the long term, your life and everyone's life would be made easier if people just played an entire match through.

    I haven't played much crucible, but when I have my matches have nearly always been neck-and-neck. I'm losing a lot, but that's just me (I suck at PvP still, I'll get there).

    I joined a game the other night about 3 seconds (no joke) before it ended and gave me 15 marks. Sweetest 15 marks ever.

    Yeah, a buff for completing matches or penalty for leaving would be a good idea.
    Regular crucible does not give enough incentive to care about the matches or even play it beyond practice or dailies imo.

      I really only play it for daily marks, the Crucible questline, Iron Banner or just to fill downtime. It is greatly improved, but people are terrible and make it a chore sometimes.

        Yeah I think part of the problem is that it is tied into other stuff like quests, bounties and earning marks. Which fills the place with people who are there for reasons other than actually pvping.

        Personally, between that, lag, balance issues and lack of any sort of consistent reward for doing well, it's hard to take regular crucible seriously as a pvp experience.

        Iron Banner is better for some of that at least.

    This is probably the most common PVP occurrence for me. Im far from good at this game yet some how I often top the scoreboard and carry the team in Crucible, and almost always lose.

    I don't understand how this happens so often, do peoples dogs play this game or something?

    Oh yeah, and I looove those Crucible games where you lose the game before even leaving Orbit. xD

    Last edited 07/10/15 10:31 am

    Instead of guessing (using words like 'mostly' and 'anecdotally') you should have looked up the exact stats using sites like where you can look up your past games. You could have counted the exact number of times you joined a game in progress, number of times won/lost etc before writing a vague article.

    I've been in multiple matches and have never had the mercy rule applied to myself or the other team.

      Mercy rule isn't in all game modes though. Depends what you're playing. I've had it happen a few times, from both sides of the fence.

    I just go in, take the loss. Get my 15 Marks and go! See you same time tomorrow

    Honestly, the biggest reason behind this is most likely the Shaxx quest line. By making progression only count if you win, people will bail at the first hint of a loss. This means there's always spots open on losing teams, ergo you get placed on said losing teams when you matchmake.

    I hoped Bungie would have learned after the debacle of the first Iron Banner, when wins were the only things that counted as well.

    I'm an average PvP player. I mostly have reasonable games, some terrible ones and some amazing ones. But Destiny's PvP in general shits me to tears, and these "win or nothing counts" quests make it even worse. And don't even get me started on the Jolly Holiday quest...

      Got my Chaperone this week, and that Last Word component almost broke me. So bad. People thought Thorn was bad. Dude.

      Last edited 07/10/15 12:50 pm

        You're a stronger person than I am, haha. How is the gun?

        I honestly didn't think Thorn was that bad, and that was playing as a Hunter with no Void abilities! It was just sloooooooow.

        Technically it's possible to do The Last Word component easily but slowly. A win counts for 3%, so you can just run any primary you want and if you're sure of a win, swap to TLW just before the end of the match. I'd rather do it "legit" though.

          Chaperone is decent - think it'll be a PvP gun first and foremost. I did my TLW part legit, took me better part of half a day. I tried all kinds of things - Control and Clash were my first options, but wasn't doing very well. Went to Rumble and started making progress - slow, back and forth progress, but it was working. A friend started the same quest, went into Mayhem and got like 30% done in one match - I got in, convinced it would be my easy ticket, and it ruined me back to 10%, from about 35-40%. Friend wasn't able to replicate his success either.

          I eventually went back to Rumble and just slugged it out. Had a couple of wins, but I think the kicker was a killstreak here and there, and headshots. Killstreaks really ramped up progress.

          Another friend spent two days equipping and unequipping his TLW whenever he got heavy ammo or was going to get a win, and he got there - but man it sounded painful.

          Thank you for this! I now have a method of completing this demoralizing task!

            Any time. I know of a few people that have done it this way. It takes a looooooooong time, but if you're not great at PvP/can't be bothered with the stress of losing your progress it's definitely an option.

              I'm actually pretty good at PvP, but I suck with Last Word. I'm a Red Death man myself.

                Red Death will be absolutely insane in the next Trials/IB. It's the new meta.

    For me, matchmaking always takes long and always puts me on either a losing team thats in a game thats already half over, or I get put against a team with clans that have 6.0 k/d...

    And I find that any match time has wait time for matchmaking, but rift seems to be the worst.

    As someone who isn't the greatest at PvP (I'm not terrible but no-where near as good as those who know they layout of every map and will snipe you the second you step into open ground) I've certainly found the matchmaking MUUUUUUCH better than year 1 Destiny. Less having to be utterly slaughtered for a few rounds before the matchmaking levels out a bit and makes it possible to get any kills at all. The balance between teams seems pretty decent to me. Sometimes I get on the winning team and sometime the losing, and it feels like usually I actually make some sort of difference on the team. Rather than in year 1 where I was all "we're losing badly I hope that's not just me."

    Plus that mercy rule is freaking awesome. It sucks so hard playing a match where you run out and get perfectly instagibbed everytime before you even see a single enemy! Now if that's happening you don't have to depressingly slog through a few matches before the game realizes the matchmaking has gone completely wrong!

    I can't speak for anyone else, but it's obvious to this PvP novice that the matchmaking is far and away better than before. I mean that's my experience of it at least and it actually makes me wanna play Crucible, rather than dread even the thought of it!

    I don't enjoy the mercy rule. I want to play full matches that don't get cut short. If the other team is so far ahead then it will end soon enough. BUT amazing things can happen either for the team or personally and this can wreck those moments for the winning or losing team.

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