Coop Skirmish Mode

One of the big problems of Aoe2 is that you need to lose a dozen games before you get to your true ELO. Most players have been here for years, so the skill level is quite a bit higher than it used to be, and getting into Ranked play is a big challenge. Nobody likes losing even once, let alone a dozen times!

Many players doubtless quit before they get that far, which is a real shame. But the real problem is that Ranked is the first and only option. Frankly, inexperienced players are too inexperienced to use the lobby system, so they click ranked, and get slaughtered.

Imagine you wanted to learn to play Chess, but your only way to learn was to join a tournament? You’d probably never play again, it just wouldn’t be fun. And over time, the playerbase would grow smaller and more elite, making it harder and harder for new players to join. That’s why new players play against their friends at home, or in small local groups, instead.

We need a low-stress, easily-accessible way to get players interested in higher-level play. So, what about a Coop Skirmish mode?

Coop Skirmish

Now, I know, you can already do this in the Lobby system; however, lobbies are a very inconsistent way of doing things, and are much better for pre-existing groups of friends, rather than meeting up with randoms. If you really want large-scale participation, it needs to be a dedicated, pre-made, and easily-accessible option.

Next to the Skirmish button, a new button, matching you with other players interested in coop play.

This lobby would automatically pair players against an equal number of AIs, just like skirmish, with consistent rules and easy access. Maybe have your matchmaking be set based on AI difficulty? Alternatively, allow each AI to have its own difficulty setting, so you could match players of different skill levels against different levels of AI.

After a few coop games, suddenly some portion of these players will feel skilled enough to step into ranked play, and this time they won’t get beaten as badly because they have experience with other players, and know where they stand! A player who is always falling behind in score, for example, would know they need to improve before they’re ready, while the top-ranked player might get some sort of popup saying they’re ready for the big leagues.

I dunno, seems like it would be a neat way of getting new players involved in multiplayer a bit more smoothly. What do you think?

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Yeah, they could improve “Quick play” to match what you propose.

First, remove “Quickplay” as a PvP. Update the description to somthing like “Get mtched wih other players against AIs until you are ready for PvP ranked”.

Then attribute a visible “AI level” to each player, like from 0 to 15: 1, where 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 correspond to the AI difficulty levels (easiest to hardest). Or some AI-Elo.
Maybe players can set their own rank.

Players are then matched against Ais of matching overall difficulty. You can have players rank 4 and 9 matched againat 2 hard AIs (rank 9). Maybe rank 15 players get matched against 150% advantage extreme AIs.

Once you attain level 12, you get a message “Congrats, you now have the average level of PvP ranked” or something like that.

Advantages are, as you said, that new players and stressed out players can chill against a competitive AI in team games, without having to worry about smurfs, unpleasant strategies, or getting smashed for the first 10 games. And they are sure that the opponent match the desired level.
Inconvenients is that it assumes the devs know the level of an average players (must update the AI and the "goal rank) and that low Elo players continue playing ranked against themselves instead of this new Quickplay (otherwise the average Elo of PvP ranked skyrockets).

I think chess is already similar to current aoe2. You can learn with friends (lobbies) or against AI (skirmish), but if you start to play online on Lichess, you start with 1500 Elo and lose until you get to your Elo.

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