Fortnite got skill-based matchmaking in a recent patch, a system that intends to put players of similar skill in games together. Players quickly noticed that the new matchmaking queued players up across different platforms, even though this wasn’t mentioned in the patch notes. Today Epic addressed the issue and said that things are working as intended.
In a blog post titled “Matchmaking, Bots, Controls, and the Combine Update,” Epic touched on the cross-platform issue. The developer wrote:
We’ve seen a lot of discussion about potentially unfair competitive advantages from pooling players together across platforms and input devices. The new matchmaking system, however, accounts for various skill levels across different platforms and control inputs, and groups players of similar skill levels together.
Our goal with the new matchmaking system is to create fairer matches for all of our players, which includes special considerations for each platform. This means that where similar skill exists, players may be paired against opponents from ALL platforms – whether they’re using mouse + keyboard, a controller, or touch input. We are closely monitoring match analytics and your feedback, and we’ll make adjustments to ensure everyone is playing a fair match.
It’s a bit of a Pollyanna-ish response, basically telling players not to worry about facing off against opponents whose platform or input device might give them a gameplay advantage by saying that it’ll all even out somehow.
Cross-platform matchmaking introduces some tricky questions. For example, does the potential framerate difference between console and PC give PC players an advantage? As a Reddit commenter notes, “A switch player capped at an unstable 30 FPS is still going to be at a disadvantage to a pc player that can play at over 60 FPS. It doesn’t matter the skill level.” Are a mobile phone and PC player of similar 'skill' actually equally matched given their inputs? As another commenter points out, “PC has massive hardware advantages compared to Switch, phone or console. As it is I’m paired against a lot of PC players on console, and despite their lack of game sense, they still aim well due to having a mouse.” This has been an issue that’s riled up a lot of Fortnite’s player base, and Epic telling players to just trust their opaque system doesn’t seem to be helping.
Today’s post contains some additional interesting Fortnite nuggets. Chief among them is that The Combine, a new limited-time obstacle course against bots, is sticking around for the long haul. “We intend to keep The Combine as a core mode to Fortnite Battle Royale for the foreseeable future,” Epic wrote. I’ve only played through The Combine’s course a couple of times, but I’ve found it to be a great way to warm up and practice my aim, so I’m glad to see it remain in the game.
Epic also provided some answers about adding bots to the main game modes, which is set to happen in the new season that launches next week. The initial implementation of bots will be somewhat limited at first: they won’t be able to drive vehicles or perform a tricky build move called a 90, though Epic writes that “long term we’re looking to see how far we can push our Bots.” Players won’t be able to squad up with or spectate bots. Interestingly, under a section titled “Can I play a match entirely against Bots?”, Epic wrote, “We’re looking into a ‘vs. Bot’ mode as a means to sharpen your skills, explore the map, and help elevate your game to the next level.” Being able to play a whole practice match against bots à la Overwatch would be a welcome addition to Fortnite.
Season 11 starts next weekend, October 13. We’ll see how the bots pan out, as well as how the matchmaking system evolves.