Fortnite’s fifth season is about to come to an end, and it really hasn’t been the best time for the game. While content and patches kept trucking along, the game itself felt a little stagnant; we haven’t seen nearly as many in-game changes compared to the last couple of seasons.
While slowing down a little is an inevitable part of a game like Fortnite’s success, Season 5 was a sharp decline in the amount of time people spent thinking about Fortnite. Thankfully, most of the issues this season had aren’t too hard to fix; they’re just over-corrections from past seasons’ updates.
Season 6 is schedule to start on Sept. 27, and hopefully it will be more exciting than its predecessor. But, before we move on completely, let’s look at the best and worst things from Fortnite Season 5.
Worse: The meta
The SMG’s competitive rise was a critical tweak at the end of Season 4; back then, shotguns still dominated everything. But since then, SMGs went from a strong niche weapon — often replacing players’ second shotgun — to being the only gun you needed for any situation. This happened in large part thanks to constant nerfs to shotguns, buffs to SMGs and even nerfs to structure health.
With superior range and fire rate to shotguns, SMGs were better at killing buildings, and eliminating players, and it took away from the Fortnite-specific skill of weaving shotgun shots in with buildings. In other words, Epic turned Fortnite into just another shooter.
The harbinger of all of these issues was ultimately the drum gun. A gun with the range and power of an assault rifle and the speed of an SMG, the drum gun absolutely dominated Fortnite for the last several months. But, as of patch 5.40 Epic vaulted the drum gun. While it’s still a little too early to say for sure, vaulting the drum gun should pull shotguns and SMGs closer into line, by removing the constant stream of bullets the drum gun could provide. By backing away from the dominance of SMGs hopefully Epic will help Fortnite get back to what made it special in the first place.
Best: The skins
While the rest of the game may not have been up to par this season, there’s no denying just how good Epic’s skin design team has gotten. With battle pass skins like Ragnarok and event skins like Wild Card, Fortnite’s skins are better than ever. Even the shop skins this season, like the terrifying clown themed Peekaboo and Nite Nite skins, the Samurai-style Hime skin, or the ‘80s hair-metal inspired Synth Star and Stage Slayer skins are far more intricate and higher quality than anything released in previous seasons.
With the biggest holidays on the way, there’s no telling how exciting and extravagant things could get as we close out 2018. One thing’s for sure though, this year’s Halloween skins are probably going to be a lot better than the skull trooper skin was last year.
Worse: The lack of map changes
Perhaps the largest single source of Fortnite’s feeling of stagnation over the last few weeks has been thanks to the map. In Season 4, the map felt like it was constantly changing. Overall, the numbers of changes Season 5 made in it’s first day was far greater than the entire previous season combined.
On the first day of the season, there were instantly three huge new locations. But Season 4’s slower map evolution — which changed certain larger areas gradually over time — made every new patch an exciting mystery for players. While Season 5 had a bit of that, thanks to the addition of Tomato Temple suddenly in the middle of the season, the other patches largely left the map unchanged. The lack of small changes made the season feel like we spent 10 weeks running across the exact same, unyielding map.
For all of the faults of Fortnite’s fifth season, none of these are too damning, or even too difficult to change. Epic has always taken a more experimental approach toward balancing and making new content for Fortnite, and while most have been a resounding success, a few experiments are bound to fail. And that’s fine, as long as Epic corrects them.