Fortnite: 5 changes we'd like to see in season 11
Not only did Fortnite season 10 come to an end on Sunday, Fortnite itself came to an end – but don't panic – it's only temporary. Players online for the end of season event were treated to a vibrant light show of rifts and rockets culminating in the game world being consumed by a black hole, a bit like what I wish would happen to the actual world when I look at the news.
Upon loading, the game now presents an error message, though you can divert yourself with a Galaxian-style mini-game should you enter the legendary Konami code (which is like the hokey pokey except you do it sitting down). The scale of the event points to major changes ahead, so what better way to use the downtime than to ruminate on potential improvements for season 11. Here's what I'd like to see.
A no-build mode
This is probably the simplest change Epic could make to make life a touch easier for new and casual players. Building is fundamental to the Fortnite experience. It grants access to high ground and provides much-needed protection in the event of a shootout.
But the speed and dexterity with which Fortnite's best players now build their sprawling multi-story labyrinths is far beyond the reach of us lowly players who a) don't have the reflexes of a pneumatic jack-in-the-box and b) don't spend every waking minute playing the game (because HELLO: there are other video games).
Should a mere human somehow make it to the endgame against one (or possibly several) jazzed-up Bob the Builders, failure will almost certainly follow. No sooner than you've fired a shot and the Empire State Building has appeared in a blink, with your antagonist ready to rain down every kind of merry hell from above.
These master builders are a big part of what makes competitive Fortnite so much fun to watch – the sheer apparent impossibility of it all.
Fortnite would no longer be Fortnite were that to change. But a game mode where building was removed, or severely limited, would provide a very welcome space for more relaxed players who just want to run about, shoot stuff and be very happily below average for a bit.
Or introduce planning permission.
The addition of the so-called B.R.U.T.E. vehicles was one of the most controversial changes in season 10. These highly-powered armored mechs brought more firepower than a whole season of the Apprentice to the game and, for a time, challenged the supremacy of ye almighty constructors by giving other players the means to get up in their faces just a little bit. Clearly it couldn't last. The mechs' power was first scaled back, before the vehicles were removed entirely – but Fornite lost a little something with it: joyful chaos.
Consider the knockabout fun of Halo 3's big team battle mode. (For the younger Fortnite players, Halo 3 was what your great grandparents did before technology was invented.) Of course there were other modes for serious Halo teams to prove their mettle, but for simply having a silly-fun time, big team battle had no equal. With more players driving, flying or gunning from all manner of vehicles, while being shot at by an arsenal of comically-overpowered weaponry, you were never very far away from something very big going very boom.
Fortnite could do with a bit of that. Bring back all the vaulted explosives and vehicles, and add a few more into the mix. Give us a mode where you're never far from a vehicle or weapon with which to cause an utter bloody shambles. Again, there's no need to change the core game. Give us a sandboxy chaos mode alongside. Better allow respawns, though.
More stealth and stuff
Before the totalitarian regime of Fortnite's builders totally took hold, I sometimes used to win games. Not by being the fastest, or the shootiest or the buildiest, but by being a little bit careful, a little bit wily, and pretty damn lucky. In other words, I liked to play Fortnite like a total, unapologetic bastard.
By starting out in a remote spot on the edge of the map, I'd creep towards the eye of the storm a bush at a time, always taking the low ground, and staying as close to the encroaching storm as I could to minimize the risk of an ambush from behind.
If I could make it down to the last three or four players, I'd choose an opportune moment to let rip – a moment when the remaining combatants were, with any luck, too busy building or shooting each other to spot me taking out the towers from under them. VICTORY ROYALE! Kill count: 1. Laugh at my Dad tactics, I don't care. It was my way and, when it worked, it gave me great satisfaction.
No longer, because, to reiterate again, the age of rampant building is upon us. But there should be other valid ways to play that don't spoil the fun of Fortnite's most-skilled players, whether that's stealth, being really good at shooting or, yes, building. At the moment there's no balance – there's only one way to be good at Fortnite.
But I'm all about practical suggestions. Maybe increase sniper rifle drops in remote locations to give more cautious players something to aim for. Work a few more tunnels into the map. Increase the number of objects it's possible to hide in, or disguise yourself as. Maybe don't move those last tiny storms arounds quite so often or so quickly.
So while I'd like to see other game modes introduced to bring more variety and ways to play, some tweaks to the core game that give other players an outside sniff of a chance would be welcome too.
More Easter eggs
Victory Royales aside, my favorite moments in Fortnite have come about from exploring its rich and changing world – especially when encouraged to do so by its in-game quests, which offer a welcome alternative path to leveling up your season pass without simply shooting and winning. Yes, Fortnite has guns, but it's the garden gnomes and rubber ducks that make me want to come back to this world rather than jump ship to another Battle Royale game (even if I am occasionally tempted by the prospect of no building).
On more than one occasion, landing on some obscure outcrop high up on the map in order to find some whimsical doodad or other, I've run into another player apparently looking for the same. Rather than attack each other, we've done a little dance, exchanged friend requests and even (hardcore players won't approve) teamed up for a while.
For me, this is Fortnite at its loveliest, and I, for one, could stand to see much more of this sort of thing. Rather than simply exploring and finding stuff, how about some experiments in narrative storytelling? Perhaps some in-game non-player characters to bestow quests and rewards to help come the end-game. Perhaps, in certain zones on the map, there could be rewards for temporary player cooperation.
I dunno, I'm not a games-making expert. These thoughts are embryonic and probably wouldn't work. All I'm really saying is that I want Fortnite's charming, dynamic world come even more to the fore. I want to hang out there. I just want a bit more to do than fire my weapon ineffectually while an apparently 15-fingered teenager builds the fortress of my inevitable demise.
A sense of perspective
Warning: tonal shift imminent. In light of a lawsuit being brought against Fortnite for childhood addiction to the game, and also the crunch undergone by workers at Epic in their efforts to stay ahead of the relentless demand for more content, perhaps what Fortnite's creators and players could use, more than anything, is … a bit … less Fortnite.
It's not because Epic deserves to be demonized on issues that extend far beyond Fortnite, but because, as the developer of one of the most visible games on the planet, it has an opportunity to cast video games in a more positive light. It would be lovely to see Epic be brave and have the difficult discussions about these issues, and maybe even take action on them.
What action is the harder question. Maybe it's by doing less. Have shorter seasons that require less grind to max out. Have less competitive, more fun-focused game modes that don't require many hours of practice to master. Or go really nuts: turn off Fortnite for a whole day once every couple of weeks. Again, I'm sure there are better ideas.
So there it is. You don't have to agree. If you're excellent at Fortnite, you almost certainly won't. But here are a few well-meant thoughts to keep Fortnite a fun, friendly and healthy place. Then we can all be winners.