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GamersFirst has been busy. They have made some tangible, positive adjustments to the game.
1. Lag is much better. Three weeks ago, the entire district would experience spikes lasting 3 to 20 seconds. This doesn't appear to happen anymore, though the game is instead persistently mildly sluggish. But overall it's a much better play experience.
2. Last week, they readjusted the rating system. People that were stuck at a rank indefinitely started to move a bit, and matchmaking was initially improved considerably.
3. Crashing has been improved. Everyone has a different experience, but of those people that used to crash, they could depend on an out-of-memory crash or GPF or other error about once every two hours. Now crashes are about once every 3-4 hours or not at all for those people. Results here vary widely, of course.
4. AFK farmers are almost entirely gone. This was a horrible, showstopping problem back in the RTW days.
5. They introduced a balancing technique that tries to put similarly-skilled players in the same district, but it's a very weak system.
Because of all of the above, I have enthusiastically gotten back into the game and wanted to love it.
Now for the bad news:
1. 3 or 4 days ago, there was a situation where all districts would disconnect people every 5 or 10 minutes. By itself, this was a temporary problem and they fixed it. Unfortunately, whatever was done *appears* to have contributed to #2, below.
2. Matchmaking was better for about a week, and now it sucks again, constantly. It appeared to get chronically worse after the event of 3 or 4 days ago. Mid-silvers can be guaranteed to be put up against a minimum of 2 golds every single match and have their asses handed to them. Backup, if it is ever offered, guarantees the outmatched team will get some buck-toothed noob trainee who makes excellent kill fodder during an important kill contest match.
3. Regarding the skill districting, the game tries to put you in a district with players of similar skill. This is very weak, because players seldom stay in the first district they are assigned. Especially when you encounter hackers and need to switch zones to avoid automatically losing. Worse, once you are in Financial or Waterfront, there is no way to intentionally have the game pick a good zone for you! You have to manually choose a district, which bypasses the entire idea.
4. Pay to Win! Premium accounts get extra cash and standing, which means they get better weapons, equipment, and cars faster. Worst of all are the P2W weapons. The Whisper gun is a close-range SMG that makes virtually no noise and has the best (level 3) damage enhancement. This gun costs a person something like $24 for 180 days of use (I refuse to stoop to this level and have never bought it so this price might be off). In the hands of someone that is already decent, this gun gives them a painfully unfair advantage in damage capacity and being able to know where your enemy is. For those of you who disagree that the Whisper is unfair, why did you rush out and buy it, then? It really is awful. You can still fight against a person with a Whisper in close quarters, but it's irritating as hell to know it's not a fair fight and that they paid extra to get something you can't otherwise get in the game. Too many people love the Whisper (generally those with lower sportsmanship standards), and they've sold too many to remove it from the game. This is one of those situations where I belive the profit-making need went too far and has irreparably hurt the game. Some manager decided to cash in on the greed of children.
5. Cheating. O M F G. It looked like cheating was becoming more rare as early as two weeks ago. Since then, however, it has been a plague that, it has been said before, will destroy this game. It seems to be worst during the mid-day hours when foreigners play and they won't even speak your language when you call them out on their obvious hacks. Anyway, some people are good. Some people are very good. And then there are people that just plain cheat and just don't care. They don't. They'll happily say it's your fault, and to get better, all the while blatantly using cheats without a care or a thought that they're sending a game that took thousands of hours to make into the grave. I don't know if GF is doing anything at all about this, but it is driving customers away. If they wait until non-beta to finally do something about it, there will only be cheaters left.
If you are really unfamiliar with the cheating problem in APB, please watch any of the many APB hacks videos on YouTube. You'll see the visual tracking of all people in the game, through walls with ranges, etc. and aimbotting that hits opponents in the head with every single shot.
It was recently pointed out in chat that, for cheaters, why even pay for an overpowered gun from the cash shop when you can buy the hacks from a third party and win with any gun?
Conclusion: Though some visible progress has been made, cheating (primarily) and P2W (secondarily) have put this game on a downward spiral toward death again. That's quite a shame, because the game can be really fun to play otherwise. It's also a shame that the selfishness of a few can and will destroy the game for everyone.