You’ve probably heard of a little thing called Fortnite. As the current premier Battle Royale game in the world, it’s never far from conversation whether it’s good or bad. The game certainly divides opinion like only a wildly successful piece of media can, though praise has almost universally been given to Epic Games for how they approach keeping a fanbase engaged.
Since the very early days of it being a simple offshoot of the PVE that we now know as Save The World, Epic has endeavoured to constantly create new content, fix what needs fixing and to be transparent with fans. This dedication, along with the game being free, has been a huge driving force behind the success of the game, making it an experience that always feels different with each passing week.
Now, though, that successful ethos feels like a hindrance to the game. Epic are so keen on not allowing anyone to get complacent with the experience that they are adding things that twist and break the meta, annoying everyone in the process. It appears as if they are so scared of their players going elsewhere that they are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the game almost every week. It’s exhausting.
Take, for instance, the newly-introduced Turret. Fairly easy to counter in Duos and Squads, the Turret is a massive nuisance in Solo as it suppresses players so effectively that the only option is to put up walls and pray that your mats don’t run out. A very generous cooldown only gives momentary respite before the process starts again. It’s understandable if Epic want to allow different tactics and playstyles to come to the fore other than building Old Trafford every time a bullet lands, but this, alongside the Minigun and other build-hating weapons, feels lazy.
This is nothing new, of course. The introduction of the Compact SMG was perhaps the most hilariously unbalanced introduction of a new weapon to any multiplayer game that I can remember, it capable of shredding through builds and other players without much (if any) skill required. The Quad Launcher has been similarly divisive, its proficiency at deleting everything hard to ignore.
These are just a few of the new introductions to the game, not to mention the Balloons, Heavy AR, Six Shooter and probably more that I can’t recall. And this is all within the last month or so. If you step away from the game for even a week these days, coming back to it can feel like playing something different entirely. Fortnite has such a mismatched identity that it’s hard to know where you stand with it.
It’s not just new weapons and items that are making Fortnite difficult to keep up with. The map used to be distinctive and easy to remember, its locations memorable and general aesthetic certifiably Fortnite. Now? It’s just a mess, a weird bric-a-brac of different themes from different seasons that lingers like a scar. Everything is so crammed in to what is a comparatively small map that it feels like a faceless jumble.
Fortnite feels like a game that doesn’t really know what it wants to be right now, evidenced by a few controversial changes to general gameplay of late. The zombies in Fortnitemares were nobody’s best friends (presumably included to match the Black Ops 4 experience), and there was a short-lived but completely myopic design decision to allow explosive damage through builds that went down like a lead balloon. The now tweaked glider re-deploy was also a polarising addition, its detractors suggesting that it was anti-building and its defenders appreciating the variety. Again, I think I’m forgetting even more recent changes to the game because there has been such a steady flow of them that it’s difficult to even nail down what kind of game Fortnite is nowadays.
It’s important to listen to fans, but it’s often to the detriment of the game itself when it comes to Fortnite. There are so many opinions on the game and where it should go next or what it should be that it’s making Fortnite feel like a confusing smorgasbord of fan service and trend-chasing. Epic should just calm it down, at least for a little while. The perfect time to start? Season 7.
Take the game back to basics for the new season or just let it settle and find its voice again. I don’t even know what Fortnite is these days, it so far away from the thing that first made me fall in love with it. There’s no need to keep adding cowboy themes, zombies, overpowered weapons or any other weirdness. Just let it be Fortnite.
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