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Fortnite Responds to Apex Legends in Latest Updates

By Jory Hollander in Sports
| March 18, 2019 12:00 am PDT
Latest Fornite Updates Analyzed

Epic Games released Fortnite Battle Royal in September of 2017, and the game became an instant hit with fans of the battle royale genre.

The success of Fortnite started a decline in popularity of the incumbent battle royale leader at the time, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Players and content creators made the switch to Fortnite due to the game’s superior optimization and weekly updates.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the battle royale genre is experiencing a similar influx of competition, this time from Respawn Entertainment’s new game Apex Legends.

The gaming world became infatuated with Apex Legends upon its release, and in a little over a month, Respawn’s game accrued over 50 million players.

The rise of Apex Legends has caused many to speculate that Fortnite might go the way of PUBG and fall into relative obscurity among the other battle royale titles that couldn’t keep up with player demands.

Fortnite Season 8 Update

Fortnite’s Season 8 update was an important moment for the future of the game. This was Epic Games’ chance to respond to the Apex Legends hype and show that they are not going to give up their spot on top of the gaming world without a fight.

Since the release of Season 8, things have been looking up for Fortnite.

The new season has caused a surge of viewers on Twitch, and many of the game’s notable streamers have returned from their brief affair with Apex Legends.

Now, with Twitch viewership numbers being close between the two battle royale giants, it feels like a war has begun between the two franchises.

Competition is the catalyst for innovation, and this statement holds true in Fortnite’s latest updates. In this article, I’m going to discuss the changes that Fortnite is making to their game and analyze why it’s a positive sign for the future of the popular battle royale title.

Enemy, Over There!

One of the selling points of Apex Legends for many players is the innovative ping system that allows teammates to communicate without voice chat. Rumor has it that the devs at Respawn spent over a month playing Apex Legends with no voice communication to perfect their superb ping system.

Epic Games did not waste any time and quickly implemented a ping system, called World Markers, in their v8.00 patch.

Fortnite’s World Marker system allows players to place 2D UI indicators that signify the presence of an enemy or display the location of an item. This system is a vast improvement over the basic World Marker system that was in the game prior.

The World Marker system goes a long way towards helping teammates without microphones work together as a unit.

Although the World Marker system is nowhere near as advanced as Apex Legends’ ping system, it provides a strong foundation that Epic Games has already started to improve upon in their v8.10 update.

A knee-jerk reaction to Fortnite instituting their World Marker system is that they are stealing ideas from other development studios.

The truth is that most features in games are inspired by other previous games. Apex Legends and Fortnite players should be happy to see that competition is forcing the games that they love to improve.

To the Vault You Go!

Fortnite’s latest updates have seen Bottle Rockets, Sneaky Snowman, Chiller Grenade, X-4 Stormwing, Shopping Cart, and the All Terrain Kart all be banished to the vault. The most notable of these removals is the X-4 Stormwing and the ATK. These vehicles acted as important mobility items for escaping the storm and making rotations around the map.

The removal of the X-4 Stormwing is a relief for many players who saw the plane as being unbalanced for competitive play.

The airplane tormented players for much of Season 7 with its ability to fly through structures and hurl defenseless players off of mountains.

Players would often use the plane to fly around the map searching for enemies, and then swoop in to clean up the remains of a fight.

The addition of unbalanced items has been a problem for Fortnite in the past.

In their haste to push out weekly content updates, Fortnite has shown a penchant for introducing items with little to no downside like the X-4 Stormwing and the Infinity Blade sword. This lack of foresight into an item’s effect on the game’s meta is a turnoff for many competitive players, who are then left scrambling to adapt.

The developers of Apex Legends recently stated, “We make less frequent, better tested, higher impact balance changes in order to minimize the impacts on your time spent mastering the game.”

Competitive players are hoping that the nerf and then eventual removal of the X-4 Stormwing signifies that Epic Games understands their fault in introducing overpowered items.

Vending Machine Changes

Update v8.10 institutes changes to the way that players interact with Vending Machines on the map.

Previously, Vending Machines spawned with varying levels of rarity and allowed players to exchange materials for items. Vending Machines now only spawn with rare, epic, and legendary rarity and are good for one use per game.

The new Vending Machines no longer accept materials but instead work on a first come first serve basis.

This adjustment to Vending Machines is a small but welcome change for the competitive community.

The old Vending Machine mechanics allowed squads to potentially gear themselves up with the best items in the game, giving themselves a large advantage over other teams.

Nobody wants to run into a full team of Legendary RPGs. There is less opportunity to abuse Vending Machines as a squad now that they function as a one-time-use item.

This fix is a positive example of Epic Games thinking about competitive repercussions when balancing their game.

New Competitive Tournaments

Update v8.0.1 introduces the Gauntlet Solo Test Event and Gauntlet Duo Test Event for players interested in competitive play.

These events are a continuation of the Pop-Up Cup system that Epic Games has been using to test competitive rules in a separate playlist.

Many are theorizing that the Gauntlet Test Events are a precursor to an eventual permanent ranked mode that Fortnite players have been pining for.

The Gauntlet Events feature a unique scoring system that breaks down like this

  • Bus Fare costs players 2 points in Solo and 3 points in Duo to start a match.
  • Victory Royale: +3 points
  • 2nd – 5th: +2 points
  • 6th – 10th: +2 points
  • 11th – 25th: +3 points
  • Eliminations earn +1 points in each mode

Players are matched against other players with similar point totals. Players within the top 5% of point totals at the end of the Gauntlet Test Events will qualify for the Gauntlet Finals tournament.

Update v8.10 announced the new tournament called the Scallywag Duos Cup which took place on March 16th and 17th for $100,000 in cash prizes.

Players qualified for the Scallywag Duos Cup by finishing in the top 3% of the Solo or Duo Gauntlet Tests.

Epic Games has stated that the Scallywag Duos Cup is a way for them to test the prize payment systems that will be instituted for the Fortnite World Cup.

The Gauntlet Test limited-time competitive mode is essentially a way for Fortnite to experiment with a Match-Making Rating (MMR) system within their game that matches players of similar skill level.

This could give Fortnite an advantage over Apex Legends if Fortnite can successfully implement an MMR system into their game. A future ranked mode could certainly play an integral part in the battle between Fortnite and Apex Legends.

Fortnite’s Current Meta

The current Fortnite meta is in a good place according to many of the game’s veteran players. Many are happy to be able to focus on the game’s fighting and building mechanics now that planes, Bottlerockets, Boomboxes, and other gimmicky items have made their exit.

New additions like the World Marker system and the Gauntlet Test Event are a positive sign for the game moving forward.

The happiness felt by players could be attributed to a honeymoon phase with the new season, though, and some pessimistic fans are not holding their breath that the meta’s balance will continue.

Each new season of Fortnite brings an influx of players back into the game, but history has shown that content updates over the course of the season often leave the competitive community frustrated and angry at the developer’s additions to the game.

Only time will tell if Epic Games has truly learned from their mistakes made in past seasons and is now committed to promoting a more serious competitive meta within their game. Fortnite can no longer afford to make missteps with excellent games like Apex Legends nipping at their heels.

The players will benefit in the long run no matter how the war between the battle royale giants plays out. I look forward to more updates that propel each game to a brighter future. See you on the Battlebus!

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