Everything you need to start your rocket riding taxi service ! pic.twitter.com/ZVlsfNdfha
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) March 28, 2018
Fortnite Battle Royale is back up after a spell as developer Epic Games implemented v3.4 which, judging by the extended downtime, could have a broad impact server performance. As is tradition, the developer released patch notes as soon as the servers went down, and there’s a lot to look at here, both with more obvious things and more subtle tweaks.
As far as big, user-facing stuff goes v3.4 is pretty straightforward, though this is Fortnite and that’s a relative statement. The big new addition comes in the form of Guided Missiles: powerful rockets that allow the players to pilot them towards their intended targets. Billed as fort destroyers, the rockets are a little slower than their non-guided counterparts. The real vulnerability comes with piloting it, which leaves you completely vulnerable until you pull out of the controls and start controlling your character again. I’ll expect this to get a lot more play in Squad Mode, where you can have up to three players watching your back while you steer.
We’re also seeing the return of Sniper Shootout, but with a few changes this time around. Magnums are gone and replaced by Hunting Rifles and Crossbows, making this an almost exclusively long range limited time mode. This iteration of Sniper Shootout also removes the downed state, so if you’re out, you’re out.
As expected, it’s looking like the bulk of v3.4 is taking place on the backend, where we’re seeing a lot of technical improvements for both networking and performance.
From a visual perspective, Epic has made “significant” improvements to graphics on consoles, including resolution, texture sharpness and framerate improvements. As a result, the developer has disabled 30 FPS mode on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, saying that the optimization means that there’s little reason to use it anymore.
We’re also getting “major netcode optimizations” designed to reduce lag, including the ability for the server to update all 100 players every frame, where previously it would only update 50. That comes along with an array of tweaks and UI changes on all platforms but focused on iOS, which only launched in a pilot program a few weeks ago. Most notably, we’re getting a zoom feature on the map, which should allow for a little more granular communication/treasure hunting.
Aside from that, it’s bug fixes and animation tweaks. I’m especially interested by the promise of a bigger effect from Sniper Rifle bullets hitting the world around you, which should be on full display in Sniper Shootout. Bullet trails for rifles and pistols are now more detailed to allow players to better determine which direction fire is coming from using visual cues. For the full patch notes, read here.
As a last note, Epic says that its fixed an issue that caused a player’s headgear to float over their heads. Which is interesting! Not so much for the bug fix but because of the implications for headgear being treated as a distinct part of the skin. Does this mean helmets will someday become their own loot category? Time will tell.