Fortnite developer Epic Games announced a new update that will add bots to the game's skill-based matchmaking, with an aim to improve the play experience for casual fans without impacting higher-tier levels of competitive play. Fortnite has continued to prioritize adding more casual-friendly elements to its online play experience, with the most recent attempt resulting in one of the most imbalanced and unpleasant additions to the game in its entire history - the B.R.U.T.E. mech, which was so poorly received it had to be nerfed multiple times.
That doesn't necessarily mean the intent behind the addition was flawed, however. Fortnite paying attention to casual fans is likely a huge reason why the game has remained as popular as it has over the years, and with long-term players gradually getting better, introducing new elements that make online play more friendly to those who aren't well-equipped to compete online yet but want a taste is a wise decision. Not everyone is a Fortnite pro to start, but with the Fortnite World Cup receiving so much coverage for turning esports players into instant millionaires, it's likely more new players are interested in making the leap to competitive play.
Fortnite's next update will provide yet another boon to casual players, but this one seems well-positioned to make a big difference without negatively impacting it's higher levels of play. Developer Epic Games announced in a new blog post that skill-based matchmaking is being introduced, and will help players compete against those of similar skill to them. Once Fortnite season 11 begins, Epic will also introduce bots to the lower ranks of the matchmaking, suggesting that the company is actively seeking more broad solutions to its skill gap problem. Here's what Epic said regarding the change and how it envisions it playing out:
"They [bots] will behave similarly to normal players and will help provide a better path for players to grow in skill. Bots will work in conjunction with the new matchmaking system, and as your skill improves, you'll face fewer Bots."
Obviously, there are a lot of questions coming out of the community regarding how the bots will function. Players are worried that the tiers in matchmaking will have them playing bots too often, something that many want to avoid. That's likely based on the perception that, no matter how good, the bots will behave in ways that don't accurately mimic how players would approach a situation. With that said, it's impossible to know how effective the bots will be - either at playing at a high enough level to even be relevant, or playing at a low enough level to be fair to low-skill players - until they're implemented.
That won't stop the Fortnite community from freaking out about it in the interim, but it seems like a good change overall. If the implementation is good, it achieves what Epic wanted without brutally imbalancing the metagame at higher levels like it did with the B.R.U.T.E. mechs. Giving casual players a means to improve their skill without getting demolished online by way more experienced veterans is a recipe for creating even more long-term engagement in Fortnite, a priority that Epic Games likely has now that it's proven to be more than just a battle royale craze.
Source: Epic Games