Fortnite’s fourth season is drawing to a close and for the most part it seems to have been a resounding success.
Just like previous seasons, developer Epic Games kept the Fortnite changes coming throughout the season. And while some temporary additions to the game, like jetpacks, are probably better left in the vault forever, things like hop rocks and the original Dusty Divot are likely to be remembered fondly by most players.
Meanwhile, additions to the game like Playground Mode and a significantly improved Battle Pass have constantly given reason for players to come back. Season 4’s Battle Pass had unique challenges that helped players approach Fortnite in a totally new way, and Playground introduced a place to not only grow your skills, but to unleash some of the creativity that isn’t quite possible in the standard mode.
While we may be only a few hours away from looking ahead at all the excitement of Season 5, let’s take a moment to look back at what made this past season special.
Good: Skins and emotes got a lot better
Last season’s skins certainly didn’t disappoint. You had unlocks like John Wick, with his signature suit, or the dark and brooding Nevermore. They were solid skins that traded low on detail and mostly relied on strong concepts — the big picture touches that help the skins stand out. But compare that to this season’s extremely detailed skins like The Traveler, or the 32 country customization options of the World Cup skins or the removable armor piece and customizable colors of Omega and it becomes clear just how far Epic has come. With all the lessons the company learned from Season 4, there’s no telling what Season 5’s Battle Pass might bring.
Bad: Material changes
On it’s face, this change may not have seemed like much. After all, it’s just 33 percent fewer mats in every pile that spawns on floors and chests in the game and 33 percent fewer floor spawns in general, but that really starts to add up. While many players bemoaned the nerf to llamas that happened in the same patch, this change likely had a far bigger impact on games. After just five kills, chances are you were looking at close to 300 fewer materials than you would have had before the change. The reason this change is less than ideal is that Fortnite is at its best when two players are using building, the game’s best and most unique mechanic, to take each other on. That doesn’t mean that every game should use Blitz rules, there’s a sweet spot to how many materials you should have, but simply nerfing a large source of them didn’t add much fun to the game.
Good: Weapon balance
Fortnite’s balance has always been notorious. It’s earliest reputation in the Battle Royale community was centered around “double pumps,” and double shotguns in general have ruled most of the first four seasons. But Season 4 switched that up by taking out one-shot kills from the pump shotgun and buffing SMGs — and the new duel pistols — giving them a real place in the meta. This season’s changes allowed players to use a whole new combination of guns, and for them to be just as successful as the standard two shotguns of old. Plus, now that Epic has taken one-shot kills away from the pump shotgun, maybe it will get a buff so it can be pulled out at a regular speed again?
Bad: The level unlock grind
Playing Fortnite is fun, it’s the reason we’re all here talking about Season 4, but feeling forced to grind in Fortnite isn’t quite so enjoyable. So, when Epic locked away the final upgrade for the Omega skin behind 80 levels, it rubbed a few players the wrong way. Sure, it’s just a cosmetic, and you don’t really have to do it, but for some players the idea of skipping out on a reward was distressing, but grinding out those levels wasn’t a challenge that felt worth it. High-level unlocks that help differentiate the top players from the rest are a great idea in Fortnite, but they shouldn’t be locked behind such arbitrary limiters like levels and experience. In the future, it would be fun to see Epic give cosmetic rewards for things like wins, kills and matches played, which might help make the cosmetics themselves a little more meaningful.
Good: Map changes every week
Fortnite has always been pretty loose when it comes to “story.” Sure, you can piece one together if you want to, but it would probably have to rely mostly on loading screens. That being said, the map changes the Epic introduced in Season 4 felt pretty close to having a narrative all their own. First, Season 4 started with the comet falling to Earth and destroying parts of the map. Over the course of weeks, we watched as the debris from the crash was torn down, the special hop rocks collected and shipped away and the locations rebuilt into something new. These changes, which mostly happened around each numbered patch, gave the entire season a sense of discovery and excitement as sections of the map could be almost completely different week to week.