When it comes to Fortnite’s progression issues, I like to compare it to vanilla Destiny for a couple of reasons. Both games required an excessive amount of resources to upgrade things, purple and gold drops were far and few between, a couple of elements were outright awful and it pissed the community off. But the turning point for Destiny was The Dark Below. While The Dark Below didn’t fix anything or lead to the major changes fans were looking for, it was a step in the right direction and showed Bungie wanted to find a balance between what they and the community wanted, something that can be seen in the Survive the Storm event.
Since there has been a lot of negativity in regards to Fortnite, let’s start by talking about what the event does right.
Survive the Storm is essentially what I thought Fortnite would be like. Players need to defend up to seven objectives at the same time, by using traps, guns, blades and well crafted bases. Even though all these things require a lot of resources, every day players successfully defend the base results in a reward of resources to build new bases, traps and what have you. It makes for a good system, since very little time needs to be spent farming and players can focus on what did and did not work.
Those who emerge successful receive a number of rewards. While successfully completing a three-day mission gives a couple of uncommon schematics and some storm tickets, which can be used to get a Storm Llama, the real goal is finishing the full 14-days. Rewards for that include a handful of schematics, many more storm tickets, the chance to get a legendary transformation key, plus additional prizes for each difficulty, up to and including unique banner icons.
The aforementioned storm tickets can be used to purchase a Storm Llama. This llama is different from the Founder’s Llama for a couple of reasons. Not only does it reward more loot and generally better quality loot, it guarantees one of the new heroes or weapons from the Survive the Storm update, along with other neat things. Said heroes and weapons can also appear in legendary form, giving players something to look forward to, even if most are epic.
That being said, the Hydraulic weapons are good, but I don’t know if I’d consider them great. They’re certainly comparable to similar weapons, in some ways better, but I don’t know if any of them will be considered top tier weapons. Maybe in certain situations, like the sniper has a lot of knockback, but stats like DPS are much lower. The real highlight is actually the heroes.
While the commonly held belief about the new heroes is true, they’re essentially reskins, they offer one distinct advantage, a much smaller pool to get a desired squad bonus. This is not an issue for Base and Centurion, though still helpful if you want them, but is a massive advantage for Trailblaster and Deadly Blade. Both of these classes are unique to epic or better, so the odds of getting them is much lower than the Storm Llama or guaranteed by finishing the 14-day storm at level 70. Sure, it isn’t quite the ability to work towards the character or class you want, but it is a step in the right direction.
Even though this update does a lot of good things, Fortnite is still rough around the edges. First and foremost, Survive the Storm is far from accessible to the average player. The issue isn’t level, though enemies increase throughout the mission, meaning you actually need the power to kill 50+ enemies if you do the 40 and reports indicate the 70 mission goes into the 90s, but time.
A day in Fortnite is about 16 to 18 minutes, meaning a three-day mission takes about an hour, with seven-days being closer to two-hours, which obviously puts 14-days at a four-hour time investment. Even this would be manageable if there was a break or way to pause the game, but there isn’t. Once started, players constantly shift between day segments, where you repair, build, create and gather resources and nightly attacks. During the day you can complete things like going to the bathroom, letting a pet out or just getting a snack, but anything that is longer than eight or so minutes can result in missing combat, not building enough, getting kicked and potentially cost your team the win.
To make matters worse, quests are limited to the difficulty stated. This means it isn’t enough to do the four-hour 40 mission and get the Hydra assault rifle key, both icons and the mythic lead, you need to do each one at each difficulty, meaning anyone looking to get all three needs to invest roughly 12 hours into it. This can be frustrating for anyone well beyond those levels, as a level 40 or higher player will get next to nothing for that four-hour investment. Sure, the Hydra is cool, though reports indicate it isn’t that great, but these are some very basic elements that can make an otherwise fun event, lackluster.
In addition to Survive the Storm, there are new mutant storm missions. These have modifiers, additional loot and offer a nice change of pace. How much of a difference depends on what you do and what level it is, but it’s a nice change all the same.
Where the Survive the Storm update falls short isn’t just some of the design choices, but balance. Some quality of life changes are welcome, like it now only takes 25 people to make a rare survivor, which can be used to get a manual for evolution, they still cost a lot. The same goes for evolution requiring a bunch an arguably excessive amount of materials, though these can change at any time. Right now the issue just the cost of progression, but what role ninjas and melee play in Canny Valley and later.
As someone who mains a ninja, the throwing star nerf hit harder than the stars ever did. I wouldn’t say it destroys the class, just that the choice seems odd. Prior to the patch Ninjas were regarded as an underperforming class, due energy restrictions, danger bees and other AoE attacks present, along with distance between targets. It’s a problem that, even at level 40 doing Survive the Storm at level 40, boosted to something like 47, melee and ninja skills simply aren’t viable.
As important as nerfs can be, they need more of a give and take. It’s fine to decrease the effectiveness of throwing stars and other changes that prevent this or that from being too powerful, but this is a problem when even with the overpowered element the community things they’re underpowered. No update should make the weaker damage class even weaker, as it just pushes players to ignore ninjas in favor of soldier.
While Survive the Storm doesn’t correct all the problems and in some cases creates new ones, it shows the developers are listening to complaints and trying to resolve concerns. Progression is certainly easier following the patch, with transformation keys being viable, resulting in a more enjoyable experience. Given the negativity in regards to the 14-day storms they’ll likely be toned down, but only time will tell. It’s a shame that some of the best chances came with some unwelcomed nerfs, but if they find a way to make Ninjas viable in late game, lower some of the evolution costs and make the new mode more accessible, Fortnite could eventually become the game many players were hoping for.