Fortnite: Battle Royale’ Could Be Getting A Competitive Mode Soon, And That Might Mean Esports
Fair warning: datamined files are sometimes reliable indicators of what’s coming in a game, like when we get to see the Fortnite challenges a few days earlier or when the skins make it into the game week or so before they actually hit the shop. If there’s a full-on skin in the game, for example, you can bet it’s actually coming. Sometimes datamined files are less reliable, and we’re talking about the latter right now. Recent sleuthing has uncovered a new folder attached to the limited time modes with “comp” in the title, and many are taking this to mean that Fortnite: Battle Royale is getting a competitive mode. It’s not the craziest idea.
Let’s think about why Fortnite could use a competitive mode, to start with. For one thing, it has a ridiculously high skill cap — that means that the best of the best players can wipe the floor with people like myself. That’s mostly due to the fact that high-level players are able to seamlessly juggle the building and shooting mechanics into a new type of level-editing shooter that really has never been seen before. Lower-skilled players are mostly playing a normal shooter with the ability to build ramps. Right now Fortnite has no skill-based matchmaking, which is part of the fun: that John Wick on the horizon might be a fool with too much free time and/or disposable income, or it might be the most dangerous player you’ve ever met.
A competitive mode could give those hardcore players a place to show off in a setting where they’ll only be up against tougher players. Any kind of ranking system would also give a little bit more of an incentive for those players to stick around: someone who’s mastered the game might just move on to greener pastures if there isn’t a new structure in which to prove themselves.
It could also start laying the groundwork for genuine Fortnite esports. esports with Battle Royale games are a tricky beast because random action can make things unpredictable, and sports thrive when they’re predictable contests that let player skill carry the day. Fortnite is a better candidate than PUBG, at least, because the resource demands of the building system encourage conflict and discourage camping, and camping is no fun to watch. Fortnite is the biggest game in the world, but it’s far from the biggest game in esports — it’s hard to imagine that Epic isn’t thinking about how to build in that direction.
We’ll see: Epic is hosting a pro-am tournament at E3, which could be an ideal venue to unveil both more serious esports plans as well as a competitive mode to introduce players to that concept of play.