The latest Fortnite "State of Development" update is a big one, covering upcoming control changes (including input-based matchmaking), changes to building materials, performance improvements (with a particular focus on 50v50 gameplay), and more. But probably the most significant part of it is word that new competitive features are on the way, and should start to roll out in the fall.
"In recent weeks we began using a version of Live Spectating functionality similar to what was featured in the E3 Pro-Am but this time operating on live gameplay servers. Improvements have been made to allow for Gameplay POV cameras to more closely mirror the action when following a specific player," Epic wrote. "This will allow us to provide more high-quality coverage of the action along with map overheads, scoreboards, and drone cameras. We will be making extensive improvements to these features over the coming weeks and look forward to highlighting the performances of our competitors."
This is particularly important for Epic because competitive play is the one area where Fortnite really lags. It's a zillion-dollar game, but the first official tournament, held last month, was "a train wreck." Lag and disconnects were an issue, as was a natural tendency toward caution that big-money play encourages, but lack of dedicated camera controls was a big problem too. As James said in his post-tourney analysis, the E3 Pro-Am cameras weren't perfect but they did make it much easier for spectators to follow the action. Without them, "the action was almost impossible to follow," which is not what you want when you're trying to build an audience.
"We are aware of a strong desire from competitive players for more opportunities to compete directly against one another within the same match. Development recently began for a robust competition system which will allow for all players to compete with one another and be recognized for their accomplishments. The first version of this feature is expected later this Fall."
The update also dives into the state of player support, which Epic acknowledged isn't where it needs to be. It wasn't prepared for the overwhelming influx of players who jumped into Fortnite when it launched, and while the "Player Support Team" has grown dramatically since then, response times "in some areas" are still too long, and so the team will be expanded again by the end of the year.
Customizable gamepad setups are in the works and will hopefully arrive by the end of the year, and that "input-based matchmaking" will provide a more balanced field of play by squaring players off against others based on their controllers, rather than platform—so, for instance, if you're using a mouse and keyboard on a console, you'll be matched up with players using the same devices.
Pump shotgun ready time is being reduced and other shotties will be looked at in the future, and building types are also begin adjusted to be more distinct—metal stronger than brick, and brick stronger than wood—"with the goal of creating more opportunities for tactical decision making," Epic said.
More karts and jumps are coming to the Playground, and there's talk about account security as well, including ruminations on how your account could be hacked, a promise to improve the account recovery process, and a reminder to enable two-factor authentication, which will not only make your account more secure but will also net you a free Boogie Down emote.
It's a lot to take in, as I said, so you'll probably want to read the whole thing at epicgames.com. And in other don't-miss-it Fortnite Friday news, a massive, bouncy cube appeared in the game today, and the tale of a toxic turd at Gamescom turned out to be untrue.