There’s no going back.
Fortnite: Battle Royale developer Epic Games has released an update on the state of competitive Fortnite, stating that it won’t revert siphon and material changes or bring back stretched field of vision (FOV), but will continue making huge gameplay changes around the game’s tournaments.
Epic’s statement comes after much of the competitive Fortnite community felt disgruntled with controversial gameplay changes introduced in the v8.20 and v8.30 updates — specifically the reduction of health, shield, and material drops from eliminated enemies (also referred to as siphons) and the locking of vertical FOVs for all players, respectively. Those changes notably spawned the ‘Revert!’ movement in the Fortnite community, which has continually called upon the developer to revert the changes they made to the game.
Many of Fortnite’s pro players and personalities, even Fortnite poster boy Tyler “Ninja” Blevins himself, felt that such changes essentially killed their preferred aggressive style of play and took away from the excitement of the game.
In its statement, Epic detailed the reasoning behind the controversial changes, as well as its goals in implementing them, saying that it “aims to provide a fun game that’s inclusive of all players, and provides everyone with a real chance of winning through any combination of skill, strategy, and good fortune.”
The developer reasoned that while most players enjoyed the original state of siphons, some “grew more frustrated with Fortnite play, feeling they had less of a chance due to encounters with high-skill players with full health and shields.”
Epic also claimed that while siphon did increase engagement for “the highest-skilled 10%,” the remaining 90% of players “were more frustrated and played less.” The developer added Fortnite’s core game modes were being played less by casual players, who allegedly stated that battle royale had become “too intense to be enjoyable.”
As for the FOV lock and its accompanying removal of the ‘stretched’ resolution — an aspect ratio used by many top Fortnite players that lets them see more than in default display resolutions — Epic explained that it was because the stretched and distorted resolutions preferred by pros “detract from Fortnite as an entertainment experience for all.”
Epic added that the additional perk provided by the stretched resolutions of seeing more than in a default aspect ratio was something they wanted to remove.
“Fundamentally, we seek to avoid optional settings which provide players with a significant gameplay advantage,” said Epic.
Moreover, Epic said that they will continue releasing huge gameplay updates even before or during major Fortnite competitions.
“Fortnite is an ever evolving game. Keeping the gameplay and the tournaments fresh is a key aspect to growing a player and viewership base that enables a large number of high-stakes tournaments for competitors and everyone who enjoys watching them,” said Epic.
The addition of overpowered weapons, such as the Infinity Blade, or broken vehicles, such as the X-4 Stormwing and the Baller, in some of Fortnite’s periodic updates have long been an issue. Professional Fortnite players have often complained that such additions ruin the game’s competitive balance and integrity — a major hindrance in Fortnite’s esports aspirations with the upcoming Fortnite World Cup.
While Epic did assure that it will “reasonably stabilize gameplay” prior to the Fortnite World Cup Finals in July, the developer’s stance certainly creates another rift in its already strained relationship with the competitive Fortnite community.
Epic added that addressing the needs of the competitive section of the Fortnite community is a “unique balancing act”, with the other part of the community, comprised of the millions of newer and casual players, still needed to be kept in mind.
“After all, those players are the audience for Fortnite competition, and their engagement is key to the growing opportunities for competitive players,” said Epic.