‘Fortnite’ Chapter 2: If You’re Suddenly Getting Victory Royale, It Might Be Bots

Forbes 1 month ago
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So, I don’t think I’ve become a Fortnite god overnight. In my first few matches here in Fortnite Chapter 2 I’ve been absolutely dominating, racking up 5+ eliminations in my matches, lasting all the way until the end and just generally performing a whole lot better than I have in a very long time. Never mind that my sniper headshots seem to be on totally stationary targets: it still feels good to make them. Here’s the thing, however: I’m seeing a whole lot of people reporting the same thing. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is probably because of bots.

If you look at #firstdrop on social media, you’ll see a lot of Victory Royales. Not only a lot of Victory Royales, but a lot of people saying that this is their first Victory Royale in a long time, to the point where you get the feeling that this is way more than 1 Victory Royale per 100 players. It seems like this is because there are a ton of computer-controlled opponents in people’s first matches, as well as the matches after that. This is a trick that Fortnite has recently pulled from competitor PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and it seems to do the job: it pumps us up and gets us excited to keep playing. Gradually the game removes the bots until we’re up against humans again, and things get a whole lot harder.

At first I thought this was just skill-based matchmaking at work. I’ve been playing a challenge-focused game over the past week or so, which means I spend a lot of time doing things that aren’t fighting, and inevitably getting hosed when I enter into fights with basically no weapons. But it’s clear that no amount of skill could account for the utterly pathetic opponents I’ve been killing: I’ve gotten several pickaxe kills against opponents armed with shotguns, for example, and you’d have to be truly, exceptionally bad to let me do this. You can see me absolutely hosing what I’m pretty sure is a bot at the top of this article.

We’ve known for a while that Fortnite was planning on deploying bots, even we weren’t quite sure how they were being implemented. For a while there was a rumor that bots would come with a special skin to identify them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. The purpose of the bots is to make you feel like you’ve eliminated a human player, and it’s doing its job well.

Even if you’re the sort of high-skill player that frowns on this sort of thing, it’s hard to deny its effectiveness. Fortnite has seen a slow bleed of casual players for a long time, and it means that everyone who remains is a whole lot better. It becomes a vicious cycle: casual players get increasingly stomped by higher-skill players, and they’re more likely to just stop playing if they can’t have fun. The bots are intended to be a confidence boost, followed by skill-based matchmaking to give low-skill players a fighting chance.

Oddly enough, I still haven’t gotten a Victory Royale. I’ve been #2 a couple of times, but it always seems to come down to me and someone much more capable than me, possibly one of a handful of human players in a match. Oh well: it’s been a fun first day, and I hope to get that umbrella soon.


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