Halo Infinite is updating its ranking system to address concerns like erroneous skill assessments and unequal player pairings, but it won’t be enough if the MMR situation isn’t addressed.

Halo Infinite (and many other multiplayer games) employ MMR (matchmaking rating) to pair players with similar skill levels. If you don’t do well in one game, you’ll be paired with players who are less skilled in the next. It’s a good idea, however, the main problem is that Halo Infinite appears to use the MMR algorithm in both social and ranked playlists.

While many players will likely be put a full tier lower than in the previous ranked season as a result of the planned ranking system update, Halo Infinite ranked will be constrained by the MMR scenario. Let’s take a look at what 343 Industries can do to address this, as well as its current intentions for a ranked revamp.

Rework with a Rank

According to the Halo Waypoint blog article revealing the changes, Halo Infinite’s rank reset will take place on February 22, and it will likely result in players losing a whole tier, as 343 Industries believes the prior ranking system was a little too generous. The generosity 343 is referring to is in the game’s CSR, or competitive skill rating system, which has been putting all of us in an unfairly high position for months.

While I was delighted to reach Diamond 1, there is a case to be made that achieving a Diamond rank in the current system is a little too easy, given that it is just one rung below Onyx, the highest rank available.

Aside from my somewhat inflated ego, everything in our ranks is about to alter dramatically on February 22. The Halo Infinite ranked reset, like a fresh ranked season in Apex Legends, will require players to complete 10 placement matches before being placed in a tier – and you should anticipate being much lower than last time.

To compensate for what 343 anticipates will be a big dip across the board, the CSR system will be tweaked so that players aren’t ranked as low as they would typically be right out of the gate. This will prevent a seemingly insurmountable climb back up to your original rank. And 343 wants to “minimize the disturbance” of a Diamond 1 post-placement ranking limit by raising it to Diamond 5. So, while you could theoretically finish your ten placement matches in a better position than before the upcoming reset, it’s quite improbable because CSR will be a little more stingy this time.

“By providing more precise, balanced, and fair matches, 343 Industries believes the adjustments will greatly improve the ranked experience for players of all skill levels,” according to 343 Industries. And while this CSR upgrade appears to have the ability to help make Halo Infinite’s ranked play feel more even-keeled, balance will never be accomplished without a real look at MMR, no matter how many adjustments are made to CSR.

The MMR Issue

While MMR is a popular matchmaking feature, the major problem with Halo Infinite’s implementation is that it appears to be calculated across both ranked and social playlists. This means that if you do well in a social match, you will be assigned to a higher-ranked match, While struggling in a social match, you will be placed in a ranked match that is easier. Players who like to warm up in Big Team Battle or Team Slayer battles before leaping into ranked competition are penalized, while those who want to take advantage of the system are rewarded. The latter of the two engage in “sandbagging,” or purposely tanking in casual games in order to leap into ranked and wipe the floor with simpler opponents.

RealSonZoo, a Reddit user, did a thorough experiment to show that social MMR affects your pairings even after placement matches in ranked games. They purposely tanked 10 Quick Play matches on a test account, then tried to play well during their rank placements. They were first placed in low-skill ranked matchups: their first encounter pitted them against an enemy squad with an MMR of 298, but by the end of their ten ranked matches, their team MMR had risen to 1107, while their opponents’ had risen to 1301.

RealSonZoo was placed in Platinum 3 with a CSR of thousands, but their following few games were exceedingly difficult – they feel their “secret MMR” was steadily rising as they performed well in ranked. So they opted to play more casual games, losing a dozen Fiesta matches on purpose before returning to ranked play, where they faced lobbies with MMRs roughly 400 points lower.

This experiment demonstrates that Halo Infinite’s secret MMR system, which applies to both social and ranked play, is flawed. Players can still sandbag in social matches to ensure they get easier-rated games, therefore the system can’t be addressed just by resetting CSR. While a CSR reset will undoubtedly assist in moving Halo Infinite ranked play closer to a position where each player’s experience is proportional to their talent, true balance will not be achieved until MMR is overhauled.

The ranked reset for Halo Infinite will begin on February 22.