Fortnite's Pivot to Battle Royale Has Split the Community in Two

Fortnite's Pivot to Battle Royale Has Split the Community in Two

Fortnite Battle Royale split the community in two, and it's like night and day.

The house of Fortnite is divided. A month ago a schism known as 'Battle Royale' split the Fortnite subreddit in two. Players of the Player vs. Environment (PvE) mode known as 'Save the World' stayed in the original Fortnite subreddit, while a separate subreddit was founded for Player vs. Player (PvP) players who were cast out after the release of the new free-to-play Battle Royale mode.

With Fortnite Battle Royale climbing in popularity and the scheduled 2018 free-to-play release for Fortnite's original PvE game mode approaching, 'Save the World' fans are in a state of uncertainty. As accusations that PvE is being ignored in favor of quick fixes and unfair loot practices mount, a sense of gloom has settled over the PvE community.

Fortnite's original 'Save the World' mode.

Fortnite was initially announced as a cooperative game with crafting where players would join up with one another to build forts, weapons, and fend off waves of enemy hordes. A PvP mode where players had to fight one another in a last player standing deathmatch was, PvE players felt, antithetical to Fortnite's core mission.

One player, IPostStupidThings, wrote the following on the day Battle Royale was announced:

I'm not sure how I feel about this, I bought Fortnite as a relaxing PvE game to get away from the toxicity of PvP games. I guess I'll give it a try, but I doubt this mode will be for me[.]

A later edit added,

I was right, not for me. I remember why I don't play PvP anymore.

One could make the argument that Fortnite's Battle Royale mode was a real boon for the game, which before then was in danger of slipping into obscurity. It helped that the developers of the biggest Battle Royale game this year, PlayerUnknown's Battleground's Bluehole, issued a rather defensive statement about Fortnite's Battle Royale. Inadvertently ensuring that the two games would be compared each time either company posted a new player milestone. Regardless, Fortnite's Battle Royale mode exploded, gaining 10 million players in two weeks. By comparison, it took Fortnite's early access nearly two months to reach 1 million players.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds put Battle Royale on the map in 2017.

Lost in the strange scuffle over competing Battle Royale games was the fact that there was a sizable portion of the Fortnite community who felt betrayed at what seemed like Epic's surprise pivot to the Battle Royale genre. Especially since as an Early Access game, parts of Fortnite's PvE mode needed serious attention. The announcement of PvP was initially met with worry. Some were concerned that development priority would shift away from the much needed balance changes in PvE to support the new Battle Royale mode. Epic attempted to quench those concerns, announcing that a separate development team from Epic's Unreal Tournament was heading up the Battle Royale mode, while the original Fortnite team remained working on PvE.

But frustration over the Battle Royale news accumulated and Epic developers attempted to quell the anger from the PvE community. One Epic employee tried to explain that as fans of games like PUBG and H1Z1, they were inspired to make a similar mode with Fortnite.

Redditor DeeHawk responded to their statement with the following comment:

Do you always make decision[s] based on what the team together thinks is fun? Because that would really explain a lot. I've never seen a developer having [the] attention span [of] a 6-year old like you guys. We the players have no idea where you're going with this game (you [won't] tell us), and all the main frustrations we have with the game are completely ignored... This is it for me, I'm not supporting this circus anymore. I was just starting to really like it too.

So when Fortnite Battle Royale went free-to-play after a few weeks in Early Access, the announcement was made that the original Fortnite subreddit would be split. 'Save the World' players remained in r/Fortnite while PvP players went to r/FortniteBR.

Who will save 'Save the World?'

The reasons the mods gave were pretty clear. After testing out the two game modes, there was enough difference between them that they felt like different games altogether. This was coupled with the fact that the two modes were being developed by separate teams and the mods felt that divvying up the subreddits was the right call. It would make it easier for players to see the content they wanted. It would also make it easier to let players talk to the respective developers for each game mode.

The Fortnite mods also highlighted some potential problems too, like the confusion of having two subreddits for games that shared the same IP. The mods were worried that this would make it troublesome for players to jump back and forth between the two communities; ultimately, potentially splitting the playerbase.

And that's exactly what happened. Whether intentional or not, the playerbase did end up splitting in two. Some in the PvE community are asking for further divisions, like splitting the clients and voice chats. Despite the community split, the frustrations stem more from the lack of development of Fortnite's PvE mode rather than just resentment over the popularity of PvP.

For Fortnite PvE players, it wasn't just the sudden announcement of a free-to-play Battle Royale mode that worried them. Players who bought into Fortnite's Early Access paid money for a game they've known about since it was announced nearly eight years ago in 2011. A game that would eventually be free, technically. At the time Fortnite was announced, it was described by Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney as "Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead." Now, perhaps sensing the times, the PvE subreddit remains anxious that the popularity of the Battle Royale mode will eventually kill the PvE mode even before the full game launches next year.

Fortnite fan Ur_a_gr8_trader writes of the state of the PvE community,

The reason the community is so frustrated is that the developers continue to leave us in the dark and ignore our primary concerns about the PvE gameplay. It gets harder and harder to support something, when you don't feel like you're even being noticed. Then, releasing this PvP mode that nobody really asked for, while still ignoring our concerns, is like a nail in the coffin for some people.

Other users point to similar situations happening in past games as a template for what may eventually happen to Fortnite. In a recent PvE subreddit post celebrating the return of 'Save the World' to the front of the Epic game launcher, Redditor Kenji_03 explained that any news regarding PvE was good news. When asked why the return of the front page banner was such a big deal they responded:

It's mostly a "PTSD" sort of thing for me. Firefall closed its servers this July. I sunk $200 into that in its beta. Saw them go from PvE focus to PvP focus, and then die out. I get that there are players drawn in from the PvP side, but I don't think I'll ever stop fearing that this game will go the way of H1Z1 and forgo PvE updates after a while.

There's precedent then for why some in the PvE community fear for the game mode they bought into no longer being the primary focus of its publisher. Especially considering the dramatic change in game tastes between 2011 and 2017. And the overall tenor of the PvE subreddit is focused mainly on improving the PvE mode.

Unfortunately there aren't a lot of clear answers for the PvE community until Epic Games makes some clear efforts to communicate the 'Save the World' development roadmap while it remains in Early Access. It's still too early to tell if the PvE community has anything to worry about at all. Though in cases like when an Epic developer mistakenly referred to the upcoming PvE update as a PvP update, it's a little hard not to feel for the irony.

So while the PvE subreddit is filled with requests for patches, complaints over how difficult it is to find other players for matchmaking, and other general anxieties; the r/FortniteBR is a community full of shared videos of big wins, proud replays, and funny gameplay moments. A separate community indeed.

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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