Fortnite has an appeal. I like the art style, I like the building and destroying mechanics being present in a vs multiplayer game.
I decided to stop playing the game. If friends want to play, I am up for it. But I get too irritated when playing it alone. It made me realize I could be playing something I actually enjoy instead.
The main insight came when I hit my arm so hard in frustration, it actually caused my hand to shake and me nerves were sending signals for way too long after the event.
I already mentioned in a previous post: I finished Dark Souls and Cuphead. I can handle hard games. It once cost me well over 50 lives to get through a bonus level in Donkey Kong Country Returns. The frustrations in the aforementioned games never came close to the frustration I have with Fortnite BR. So as a game designer, I wanted to find out why this happens.
I grew up playing shooters on PC. This made me accustomed to a bunch of different weapon types and how they handled. As Battle Royale games have their roots in military sims, it’s no wonder the accuracy of weapons is not the same as in other “arcady” shooters.
Having played Unreal Tournament a lot and finished the first 3 Gears of War games, I didn’t expect the accuracy to be this shady in an Epic Games title. Hell, BR’s accuracy is even different from Save the World’s, the other game mode of Fortnite! My muscle memory is used to point, shoot, kill. Not to: point, shoot, have a 25% chance of hitting the enemy … Aiming skills mean nothing here, luck’s a better ally.
In a more recent game, I had a situation where I saw the enemy, hit him with the hand canon, destroying his shield. He came at me with a jump pad. While he was in the air, I hit him a couple of times with my submachine gun, after he landed, hit him some more. As he now had the higher ground advantage, I tried to reposition. He fired one shot. I had 60 shield and about 98 HP. INSTANT KILL. How … what … the fuck … ? The fact I encounter these situations regularly and the game doesn’t communicate clearly what happened prevents me from actually learning how to improve my encounters.
I also get no feel for which weapon outplays the other. Rockets launchers may do less damage than other bullet based weapons. The new sticky bomb only does 100 damage, so they are survivable if you have some shield points. If you have the skill to stick them to your enemy (I did it twice already), why does it only do 100 damage?
I checked out Radical Heights. This game has more accurate shooting mechanics. If I died, I knew why. But what I really disliked was the game loop. You pick Play. The game searches for a server. It finds a server and puts you in the lobby. Then you have to wait until there are 100 players. Only at that point, a 90 secs timer starts before you can actually play the game. If you are really unlucky, you may already die in 30 secs. So you have been waiting about 2 minutes to only play about 30 secs of the game. I want to play a game for the gameplay, not the waiting around until you can actually play.
This loop is less obvious in Fortnite BR, but it is also there. Fortnite BR at this point starts fairly quickly, but the sole reason is the player count at the moment. If we are a couple of years further down the line, it might take longer for a match to start.
So realizing this waiting – playing loop, I understood this is a game aspect I don’t like. In other games, you respawn. You can keep playing as long as the objectives haven’t been met or the timer has ended. You can learn how to tackle a situation, how your opponent thinks and adept, with the possibility of turning the tides of the game and eventually win.
A Battle Royale style game doesn’t give you the opportunity to grow in a single match. There are too much random factors: starting point, weapons, weapon accuracy, resources, where the end-game of the shrinking playing field will be, different players every match. You can’t learn how to outplay the better players.
I once played UT 3 with a friend against a guy who was WAY better than us. He kept destroying us. But because this all happened in the same match, I figured out he was using a sound enhancing mod so he could here us coming. This knowledge came because I changed my style of approach every time and learned what gave away my position. This was an unfair match from the start. But did it frustrate me like Fortnite BR does? Not at all. The game became challenging and I enjoyed adapting to the situation. Growing, learning how to outplay this other player. We even were having a friendly chat with him while playing and he admitted he was running a sound enhancing mod.
I enjoyed the match because I wasn’t kicked out whenever I got killed and had to go through the waiting + loading again before I could play and die again.
UPDATE: checking some things for this post has pulled me back in. But frustration is always present, so I stop playing before it gets too intense. 50 vs 50 was casual fun. When the mode was gone, a couple of rounds and annoyances in solo and squads lowered my enthusiasm again …
50 vs 50 mode v2
One of the reasons I revisited Fortnite BR as a solo player, was the 50 vs 50 limited time mode. In the trailer, they portray the game as 2 large teams going head to head in 2 large forts.
Of course I knew this was all just marketing fluff and wanted to see what actually happened.
First off, forts are almost nowhere to be seen. Ramps, boxes and sometimes connections between them, but no tactical builds to speak off other than the regular single man towers.
Allies are huge DICKS.
They don’t revive downed players. I have this switch in my head to always try to help a downed ally. Here, no-one cares. You may be perfectly safe to be revived, in front of them. Maybe 5% of all the players will actually revive you.
While I was reviving one of our downed players, he suddenly moved away from me to get revived by another team member. Probably because it was his friend and that friend cares about his stats? I was just a second away from reviving him …
While I was scouting with a sniper from a mountain top, my team mate pushed me over the edge with a pulse grenade. So I fell to my death. This happened again in another match, but other people revived me. Got a soft revenge on the culprit by destroying a piece in front of him while he was moving up on a ramp. He fell off, but didn’t die.
At the start of the game, I landed on top of a tower. A team member apparently thought it would be fun to destroy the foundations of said tower, making it collapse and letting me fall to my death. When I was in the state to get revived, he did the revive action for about 1 sec. Then stopped and started dancing while I was bleeding out. Lucky for him, he wasn’t near me in real life Because I would actually bitch slapped him for that action!
When building a tower for myself, other team members edit my builds behind my back, rendering my defenses useless. Or build structures in front of me, preventing me from shooting. Or even placing parts around me, locking me up. And worst of all: they might edit a piece of floor so you’ll fall through with a good chance of dying.
Another team member stood right behind me, preventing me to be able to walk back from enemy fire.
Apparently allies think it is funny to start shooting at their team mates. You can’t shoot team mates, but it makes it sometimes impossible to figure out where the enemy is located when there is a big firefight.
This is a team game. Co-operate as a team …
Tying in with the learn, adapt portion of this post: we had a situation where there were about 20 people of my team left and only one of the other team. Every couple of seconds, one of our team members died. I looked at the map (as you can see team members in need of revival) and figured out where he would be located. I eventually lost because he was able to sneak up on me, but I was satisfied to know I was able to figure out his position.
What did the other team members do? Nothing. They were just fucking around.