It has become pretty standard for most multiplayer and PVP to use a rank up system . Most of the AAA first person shooters incorporate it now, so that the more matches you play the more things (weapons, upgrades etc) you have access to.
As a casual gamer, and someone who has never dedicated a lot of time to a single multiplayer experience that hasn’t been an MMO, I have had some mixed experiences and thoughts on it.
First of all I do see why developers implement it. If you are the kind of player that spends a lot of time in a single game playing PVP then you need something to keep you interested. However as a player who tends to start late and not dedicate the time I usually end up finding that it makes me less interested in playing.
When you start as a level one with starter weapons and get thrown in with max level players with max weapons it is really not a fun experience. I have had a few games where I have been excited to try the multiplayer and then after a few hours of banging my head against loss after loss and death after death to try to rank up I find I have lost interest.
Now I know that some of the rank up issues can be fixed by a developer who has well balanced match making. I have played some games where the matchmaking puts people who are actually similarly ranked, and that can solve a lot of this issue. The problem there is that you still have to have enough players at a given rank in order to make that work, and unfortunately when you play like I do and come in late there usually aren’t that many low level players you can get matched with.
I’ve also noticed that the grinding of ranks bothers me more now than it used to, and I think that has to do with the amount of time it takes. When I was in school and had a lot more free time to spend playing games any type of grinding or farming, while not my favorite, was more or an acceptable means to an end. Now that I have a full time job and a lot of the other stresses of life I don’t have the time to dedicate to grinding and farming, which means I tend to stop playing any game where that is a requirement to do well or enjoy the experience.
To be honest what I really miss when it comes to PVP is the couch competitions. I remember sitting in the same room playing golden eye and getting in to major screen watching arguments etc. Yes, if there was an imbalance because one player had more time playing it would show, but in most cases all the players had the same accesses to weapons etc, and I felt that the imbalance was less noticeable.
Obviously the model works, or there would not be so many games utilizing it. I also know that I may just be bad at these style games, and therefore this is just another gamer whining when they don’t like something. However, I do wish that more games would keep the option for local multi like they used to, so that those of us who still want that experience can play multiplayer content without the online aspect. Then maybe we can lie to ourselves that we are actually ok at it 😉