I enjoy the Battle Royale genre, but occasionally I need a change of pace. That's why I'm glad that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) is experimenting with new event gameplay modes. It's also why I'm happy to see Epic Games bring back Fortnite Battle Royale's 50v50 mode.
50v50 is still a last man standing mode, but it refocuses Fortnite Battle Royale from an "every person for themselves" affair, to something resembling a war. Two sides fighting tooth and nail over a specific warfront. People dying in front of you; some you can save, some you can't. And eventually either your side triumphs, or you have that slow sinking feeling that you're going to lose against overwhelming force.
This is the second version of 50v50 in Fortnite Battle Royale. The first merely grouped up squads into large teams of 50. Otherwise, it worked a lot like base game mode: drop into the map, loot for resources, and hope someone doesn't kill you. The storm circle shrinks to focus the fight, but you could die immediately because there was nothing dividing each side. It wasn't very fun and actually killed the tension of battle royale. Since every other player wasn't actually hostile, it muted the fear. Battle royale trades heavily on the tension of every door slam and gunshot being scary because you never know if that threat is coming in your direction.
So Epic Games went back to the drawing board and created the new 50v50. Let's explain how the mode works in its current form. First, the Red and Blue teams now now each have their own buses to deploy from and the map is roughly divided into halves already. The buses float across the far end of each team's half of the map, meaning it's easier to drop into your own territory. You can drop into the enemy's side of the map, but you're more likely to meet the opposing team alone.
Epic Games realized that the previous loot distribution wasn't prepared for large groups of players to drop in a single region, so it's been increased for 50v50. Resources gained from farming have been increased by 75 percent, floor loot is up 15 percent, and ammo has been doubled overall.
Another major change is the final storm circle is visible on the map from the beginning. This means everyone knows where the final warfront will be. 50v50 also gives players Supply Drops in batches of 3-6 every two minutes, but only in the circle defined by the final storm circle. Timing is fairly rigid in the new 50v50. You have 10 minutes to drop and loot the map for resources, then the storm begins to shrink towards the final storm circle. Then you get 5 minutes to fight within the final circle, and then in the last 5 minutes the storm circle just keeps shrinking.
In the 50v50 matches I played, players generally dropped on their own sides as intended. I'm sure that you could go guerilla in enemy territory, but I'm not that guy. Enemy players can easily tell that you're not on their team because you lack an arrow above your head, so I think only the best-of-the-best could survive it. (Random thought: Fortnite Battle Royale needs a Rambo skin.)
The 50v50 version of dropping in Tilted Towers—which is a hotspot on the basic battle royale map—is dropping into the final storm circle. It's a strong risk-reward play: you have the chance to build your team's bulkhead early on and you can grab all those delicious supply drops, but the most aggressive players on the opposite team are doing the same. There's always fighting in that storm circle.
What many players do instead is drop elsewhere on the map and loot in relative peace. It's calm and relaxing as you hope the random number god smiles in your direction. You're in a larger team of 50, but you're also in a squad, meaning for communication purposes it's good to stay together. Then, as time drops lower, you start sprinting towards the final warfront. And this is where things get fun.
It's the weird endgame of Fortnite Battle Royale writ large, but it really feels like a war. Two teams of 40 or so players building huge structures for cover and height advantage. It's a chaotic mess, but you can feel an overall goal driving it. Sniper bullets, rockets, grenades, and assault rifle fire are flying in every direction. You might be hiding behind cover and you see someone on your team go down. Do you leave them be, or do you break cover to revive them? If you break cover, do you make a naked dash or build walls to hide behind, knowing that the other team will use rockets and minigun fire to shred any new walls or ramps it sees going up?
As your team members fall to enemy fire, or enemies die on your side, you'll find you weapon situation changing drastically. I saw a teammate nearby get killed, and I looted their body for a sweet sniper rifle and a Golden minigun. (I felt no guilt or shame!) Another death a few minutes later hooked me up with a First Aid pack. Their loss was my win.
In one match, I went down to a crossbow shot, and I crawled my way back behind our team's barricades. There, one player on my team revived me, while another player threw out some bandages so I could heal myself up. All without talking. There's a feeling of camaraderie in 50v50; we were all in this together and the strongest team is usually the one with the most players.
50v50 in its first incarnation didn't work. It was just a mishmash of chaos with two larger teams killing each other before the real war could start. The new 50v50 is a damned good mode through. It adds something new to Fortnite.
50v50 is something that PUBG (or Radical Heights) doesn't have, meaning it allows Fortnite to differentiate itself, but it's also closer to the large scale conflict modes in AAA shooters like Battlefield 1 or Call of Duty: WW2. Assuming Epic Games keeps 50v50 around, this mode is something that could keep the 2018 iterations of both titles from being as enticing. Especially since Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is skipping a single-player campaign and adding a battle royale mode this time year. If I were PUBG Corp, I would think about copying this mode sooner rather than later. Turnabout is fair play.
50v50 is a limited time mode for Fortnite Battle Royale, but hopefully Epic Games keeps it around as a long-term player option for the game. Like I said, I need a change of pace once in a while, and 50v50 is an absolute blast.