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Epic says no to FOV slider in Fortnite, explains Siphon removal

In a blog post addressing the growing ire among professional Fortnite players in the weeks of qualifiers leading to the Fortnite World Cup, Epic explains why the beloved Siphon mechanic (rewarding health for kills) was removed, whether or not an FOV slider will ever happen, plans for squashing bugs, and how it'll communicate big changes going forward. 

Let's dig in. 

On the removal of Siphon

Ultimately, Siphon increased engagement for the highest-skilled 10%, while the remaining 90% were more frustrated and played less.

Epic Games

Epic says Siphon isn't gone for good, it's just going to live where it's needed. According to Epic, Siphon was implemented specifically to address competitive Fortnite's turtling problem. 

Under high stress, players tend to be much more conservative than they would in a public server, so a health reward per kill was added as a risk-reward mechanic to push players into conflict and out of their safe, snaking material tunnels.

Turns out Siphon didn't make a big dent in competitive player habits. 

"Ultimately, Siphon increased engagement for the highest-skilled 10%, while the remaining 90% were more frustrated and played less."

Siphon or not, competitive Fortnite's endgame is a mess. 

Epic has to please its base, because its base is still millions upon millions large. Players started hanging out in limited time modes while the try-hards stuck it out in Battle Royale. 

"Over time, players began to disengage in the core modes, stating that the game had gotten too intense to be enjoyable."

And so Siphon was removed. I wish I could see the data myself. I'm no professional analyst, I just wonder how much of that shift towards LTMs from the base can actually be attributed to Siphon rather than a steadily growing bubble of skilled players crowding casual players out. 

Even before Siphon came and went, I've a steadily increasing populations of god-tier players capable of building a skyscraper on top of me before I can say hello. Victory Royales are just difficult to come by these days. 

Siphon is still present in the ranked arena modes, which is probably where the most aggressive players live anyway. 

On stretched resolutions and FOV

Since the dawn of Fortnite, some competitive players have been using custom resolutions meant for 4:3 monitors on widescreen monitors to stretch the image and get a slightly taller vertical FOV. By default, Fortnite locks the horizontal FOV based on your resolution and expands the vertical FOV to compensate. It's weird and I don't know why that's how it works, but that's how it works. 

So you get a taller FOV, as demonstrated above, but then pros will squish that image down to fit a 16:9-ish monitor. 

Weeks before the Fortnite World Cup Qualifiers kicked off, Epic said stretched resolutions were out for competitive play and that to qualify players would be forced to use 16:9 resolutions, and pros got pissed

Epic's planting a flag in an FOV of 80 and standing its ground, citing the following for the decision: 

  • Varied engagement ranges, favoring a low FOV and thus a closer view of enemies.
  • Minimizing potential motion-sickness in players further away from their screen. The further a player’s head moves from the center of the in-game field of view, the more negative the reaction.
  • Minimizing jarring transitions when aiming down sights.
  • Visual fidelity.
  • Performance.

"Fundamentally, we seek to avoid optional settings which provide players with a significant gameplay advantage," it reads. 

That's gonna be a hard no from Epic. And I get it. Every inch of advantage matters in battle royale games, and if that means capping the FOV for the sanctity of fair play, then I'm for it. It won't please the pros or the ams or evens some of the yous, but it feels necessary in such a cut throat genre. 

I hadn't even considered the game design implications, how a lower FOV influences the distance at which fights occur. Fortnite's snipers are already infuriating enough, and we don't need to treat them to a higher FOV. Give the no-skins a break. 

Maybe Fortnite shouldn't be a massive esport.

Epic puts its problem bluntly when it says "Fortnite competitive play relies on a unique balancing act: maintaining a solid and balanced experience for competitive players, while being essentially the same Fortnite played by hundreds of millions of players."

Pros are the 'face' of the game, amplifying their specific feedback through audiences of thousands and thousands of players of all skill levels. But Epic's made it clear that it doesn't think what's good for pro players is good for public play. It now has legions of average players in tacit agreement with whatever the pros say, amplifying dissent that ignores Epic's game design ethos and the millions of other players oblivious to Reddit that are perfectly happy with the state of the game. It's difficult to imagine a perfect solution here. Maybe Fortnite shouldn't be a massive esport.

Polygon's report on the endless crunch plaguing Fortnite devs clearly depicts a team already doing everything it can, and more than it should. Communication could be better, and Epic says it plans on being more present in popular forums of discussion, while doing a better job monitoring bug reports through those same channels and via in-game reports. It's just going to take some time.

I'm happy to wait, let's just maybe get to this point before the $100 million tournament kicks off next time. 

What do the pros think?

James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.