10 Absolutely Shocking or Surprising MMO Events

The video game industry isn’t all about making games; that would be so downright boring. That is why now and then we get a shocking scandal, surprise announcement or surreal occurrence. Here are 10 controversial or surprising happenings that spread like wildfire and in some way changed the industry.

Save the Whales – Lockbox Legislation Around the World

Video Game Industry Scandals Star Wars Battlefront 2 lockboxes

Do you like gambling? Great! So why aren’t you inside a casino? Oh, that’s right, most games nowadays come with some sort of gambling feature called lockboxes. The premise is simple and ingenious: you are promised amazing in-game rewards that will be all the rage. So, what should you do? Purchase more and more of these boxes to increase the odds of getting that rare piece of gear or costume. Go on, put that credit card to use, games don’t make themselves, you know?

That was sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice. Always be responsible with your spending.

The shady thing with lockboxes is that the odds of really getting something worthwhile are incredibly slim and shrouded in secrecy, not to mention that they have this tempting allure that many players aren’t able to resist. It does sound a lot like gambling, right? That is how you end up spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on randomized pieces of loot.

Oddly enough, it was China that first started looking into this matter and demanded that developers publicly revealed the odds of earning an in-game item. Crossfire was one of the first games to come to light and the ludicrous 3% proves that lockboxes are a wonderful deal… for publishers.

Other regions such as Belgium and The Netherlands started investigating lockboxes, with some games such as Overwatch stopping the sale of lockboxes in affected regions. Electronic Arts was involved in this controversy as well, with games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and FIFA 18 being mentioned as examples. Of course, other countries aren’t entirely sure about this subject. France and Ireland, for example, aren’t the biggest fans of lockboxes but see this practice as a legally grey area.

Lockboxes are a touchy subject and will surely continue to be discussed during the following years. My advice to you is: if you really like a game and want to support the development team by spending some money, which you should totally do, look at the item shop and leave lockboxes alone.

 

Riot Games Bro Culture, Testicle Flicking and Gender-Based Discrimination

Video Game Industry Scandals League of Legends Riot Games

Riot Games achieved intergalactic fame riding on the success of League of Legends, but by late 2018 it was talked about due to the worst possible reasons: an alleged culture of sexism, a “giant fraternity,” and a “bro culture” where women were not welcome. It was a place where women were discriminated against, as their career progression was stifled as positions went to less-qualified men.

Kotaku created an amazing article with several interviews that dropped like a bomb in the already fragile and scandal-ridden video game industry.

Naturally, this piece spread like wildfire and had severe repercussions, with Riot Games having to undertake some serious damage control. Riot’s COO Scott Gelb was in the spotlight by facing accusations from multiple employees about repeatedly flicking testicles, farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. Sounds like a lot of fun when you are on the receiving end, right?

To cut a long story short, several former Riot Games employees started sharing their experiences after reading the articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and the least that can be said is that it is some heavy reading. Riot Games eventually apologized, but the damage was done, and the past can’t be erased. How it has affected the studio – and League of Legends – remains a bit of a mystery, but I doubt that it did them any favors. And it’s so easy to apologize after your humiliating studio culture is revealed to the world…

 

A Bad Case of Battle Royale – PUBG Corp Sues Left and Right

Video Game Industry Scandals PUBG

Here’s a lawsuit for you! And you! Everyone gets a lawsuit!

There is no denying that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the game that kickstarted the Battle Royale craze. It remains as one of the most played games in its genre, but it is now trailing behind Epic Games’ Fortnite, and Respawn’s Apex Legends is also proving to be a worthy challenger.

However, if there is one thing that developer PUBG Corporation can’t claim is having invented the Battle Royale genre or its mechanics. That is why suing Epic Games sounded more like a desperate attempt to put a stop to the rising fame of Fortnite Battle Royale than an authentic, credible case. It felt more like a kid throwing a tantrum because someone stole his candy. His delicious, everlasting candy.

But before the Epic Games lawsuit, there was a previous one targeting NetEase. PUBG Corporation wasn’t pleased with Knives Out and Rules of Survival, going to the extent of detailing several game mechanics over 100 pages. Claiming copyright infringement for things such as a pre-game lobby, the air jump, character attributes and much more seems a bit of a stretch. Sure, I’ll admit that the frying pan armor may be somewhat original, but still…

PUBG is a huge success and shady copycats were bound to happen, but it will be a depressing day when a studio is granted the copyright for trite game mechanics or a completely unremarkable game idea. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that the day will never come.

 

Trust Us, This Time It’s Good – Bless Online Western Release Mess

Video Game Industry Scandals Bless Online

Bless Online is the perfect lesson in exaggerated hype and subsequent disappointment. May its legacy serve as a warning for future generations about the dangers of high expectations.

For the lucky few who aren’t aware of the whole situation, Bless Online is a Korean fantasy MMORPG that was several years in the making and had a large budget as well. A few lackluster betas led to a Rebuild project that ended up not changing that much, and the attrition between original western publisher Aeria Games and developer Neowiz was a clear sign that Bless Online wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

Ultimately, Neowiz decided to self-publish Bless Online in the west through Steam, but with a major twist – it was going to be buy-to-play! An unfinished, buggy mess of a free-to-play Korean game that the western crowd was now expected to pay for. Oddly enough, many players cheered this decision because things are always better when you pay, right? With the reality shock and negative feedback stemming from the Early Access phase – because Bless Online wasn’t in development for long enough, you know –, there was a 180º turn and Bless Online’s official launch marked a switch to the original free-to-play business model. Too little, too late?

Apparently, yes. As the original Korean servers shut down, along with the failure of the Russian and Japanese versions. The Steam release of Bless Online is now the sole focus of Neowiz. Unsurprisingly, it is bleeding players and its future is uncertain, to say the least.

But I saved the best for last! Out of the blue, Neowiz and Bandai Namco announced Bless Unleashed, further stirring up the hornet’s nest, a.k.a. Bless Online PC players claiming that resources were being shifted to this upcoming game. This Xbox One exclusive is developed in Unreal Engine 4, is free-to-play and is scheduled for a 2019 launch. How does that old saying goes? Fool me once, shame on you…?

 

Who’s the Parent – Daybreak / Columbus Nova Chaos

Video Game Industry Scandals Daybreak PlanetSide Arena

Daybreak Game Company was in the spotlight for an important part of 2018, and no, it wasn’t due to the massive layoffs (around 70 people). It was because of all the confusion surrounding Daybreak’s alleged parent company, Columbus Nova.

The makers of Z1 Battle Royale, DC Universe Online and PlanetSide Arena, among others, were involved in a tangled web of miscommunication, doubt and unexpected twists. Daybreak has officially denied any affiliation with Columbus Nova, claiming that Jason Epstein, former member of Columbus Nova, is the primary owner of the studio. This conflicts with a 2015 privacy policy which described Columbus Nova as the parent company.

This almost feels like a detective movie, involving a Russian oligarch, billions worth of frozen assets and nail-biting suspense. All that is lacks is a romantic subplot, but let’s not make it more complicated than it already is.

 

Elves on Spaceships – Pearl Abyss Purchases CCP Games

Video Game Industry Scandals Black Desert Online

What does it take for one Korean studio to acquire a hugely reputed developer with a massive hit that has been live for more than 15 years? The answer has three words: Black Desert Online.

Pearl Abyss delivered a stunning MMORPG that is almost unrivaled when it comes to graphics and action combat. It is also incredibly deep and complex – so much so that it’s awfully grindy and requires a hefty dose of patience, and usually money, to become a powerful player. There are reports of players having spent over $5,000 USD on Black Desert Online, and I’m betting that is the tip of the iceberg.

With such revenue numbers, it’s clear that Pearl Abyss had a bit of pocket money. They decided to use it on the acquisition of CCP Games, makers of the intergalactic epic EVE Online. Apart from the upcoming release of EVE Online in Korea, we don’t know what other plans Pearl Abyss has for the Icelandic studio. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t involve spaceships landing in Black Desert Online.

 

A Handful of Nothing – Wargaming Seattle Closes Without a Single Release

Video Game Industry Scandals World of Tanks

Gas Powered Games is a name that brings back some pleasant memories. It takes me to a time when I enjoyed playing the Diablo-like Dungeon Siege, or the complex real-time strategy series Supreme Commander. However, in 2013 the studio was suffering from severe financial issues and ended up being purchased by World of Tanks publisher Wargaming.

Thus, Wargaming Seattle was born, along with hopes of a new “big free-to-play MMO” that never saw the light of day. Five years later, not a single piece of info or a measly screenshot was released to the public, and Wargaming decided to cut its losses. The studio was closed, affecting a 150-strong team and leaving the gaming community oblivious to what kind of project was in development.

However, this isn’t stopping Wargaming’s ambitions. The Belarusian company acquired Edge Case Games in November 2018 and has several partnerships with various developers, one of the latest being Ukrainian studio Frag Lab, which is working on a next-gen free-to-play MMO first-person shooter.

 

Not So Heroic – Marvel Heroes Downfall

Video Game Industry Scandals Marvel Heroes Gazillion

There was once a time when Marvel Heroes merged the best of two worlds: Diablo-like gameplay and super heroes. Sure, it didn’t have the greatest start, but just as it happened with other online games – League of Legends is the perfect example –, it eventually got better as development progressed, gameplay was finetuned and new heroes joined the fray.

After a few years of live service, some worrying news came to light, and not all of them involving the game. A sexual harassment scandal concerning Gazillion’s CEO Dave Dohrmann is a major problem, and Disney’s (owner of Marvel) intention to cut ties with Gazillion was a death sentence. It all ended with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2018, meaning that the studio wasn’t paying its creditors and was forced into bankruptcy by the same entities.

Gazillion workers ended up without any kind of PTO or severance, making the entire situation even more dramatic.

 

Worlds Divided – Gamigo Buys Trion Worlds

Video Game Industry Scandals Trove

Trion Worlds was once one of the most prolific free-to-play games publishers and developers. Trove, Rift, Defiance and Atlas Reactor are all their own doing, and you certainly have heard about ArcheAge as well.

While some of these games were moderate successes, they weren’t enough to keep the company afloat. In October 2018, German publisher Gamigo acquired Trion, along with the full rights to the aforementioned games. They even managed to get a few Gazillion assets (makers of Marvel Heroes) in the deal as well.

Gamigo was undoubtedly one of the top players in the free-to-play market when the genre was on the rise. Recently, however, its catalog is more discreet, with the decent shooter Ironsight being one of the latest releases.

 

Guild Lost – ArenaNet Layoffs and a Grim Future

Video Game Industry Scandals ArenaNet Guild Wars 2

For some reason, ArenaNet felt to me like one of those studios that couldn’t do any wrong. Sure, it’s not like they have done much besides Guild Wars and its sequel, but both MMORPGs were critically and commercially acclaimed, thus my appreciation and admiration for their spotless track record.

Nonetheless, there are very few studios that manage to keep going for years without the occasional new release. Founded in 2000, ArenaNet was allegedly working on two new projects, but delayed development and a shift of staff from Guild Wars 2 to these unannounced games ended up being an unsuccessful move.

Reports mention over 100 layoffs at ArenaNet following a restructuring decision by the studio’s owner NCSoft. The future of ArenaNet is now uncertain, and if there aren’t any new games in an advanced stage of development, there is only so much that new Guild Wars 2 expansions can do. I fear that we will end up seeing the talented staff being engulfed and separated by NCSoft in a not-so-distant future.

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Rapper Plans to Sue Fortnite over Dance Emote

If the moves used in some of the Fortnite Battle Royale dance emotes look familiar, you’re not alone. One such person who has taken notice is actually a rapper who plans to bring Epic Games to court over the matter.

fortnite battle royale dance emotes

Rap artist 2 Milly has announced his intent to take Epic Games to court over the matter of the Swipe It dance emote, which looks move-for-move like 2 Milly’s Milly Rock. Where the rapper takes difference with Epic is the fact that his moves are being sold for money without his consent.

“They actually sell that particular move. It’s for purchase. That’s when I really was like… oh nah, this can’t go on too long,” said 2 Milly. “I don’t even want to bash them for all the millions. I just feel like I have to protect what’s mine.”

2 Milly’s legal complaint holds no legal precedent, which could make any action he takes a challenging proposition. Regardless, the artist is reportedly willing to try.

The rapper’s complaint is not unique, as other rap artists like Chance the Rapper and BlocBoy JB have brought up their aggravation over their dance moves being used in Fortnite without due credit. Even actor Donald Faison of the sitcom Scrubs has had his moves stolen, with one dance routine performed in the show once more copied move-for-move without compensation.

“That’s what y’all are thinking, right? Somebody got paid? No. No. I did not,” said Faison. “Somebody stole that s**t, and it’s not mine any more.”

Epic Games was contacted for comment by the source of this story, but there has been no response at the time of this writing.

Our Thoughts

There’s certainly a line between “inspired by” and “wholesale ripping off of”, and these emotes certainly do look a lot like carbon copies. Ideally, anyone involved in legal scuffles between themselves and Epic Games can come to a conclusion without things getting publicly ugly…but we agree that some compensation to these artists appears to be due.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Fortnite Adds Tournaments Mode and a Structure-Killing Quad

Fortnite Battle Royale v6.10 has brought a couple of noteworthy additions to the proceedings of the online multiplayer shooter. Chief among them are a new quad bike built to blow through structures and a new Events option for the more competitive-minded players.

fortnite battle royale v6.10

The appropriately named Quadcrasher vehicle is a two-seater that lets players tear across the map at high speeds and ram into structures presumably at will thanks to its plow blade mounted on the front and a bit of boost.

As for those online tournaments, those can be accessed via a new Events option in-game. Tournaments run on a set series of scheduled dates and times. Squads compete over several hours, earning points for surviving the longest or eliminating the most opponents, and squads will be matched against other teams with similar point totals.

Bear in mind, however, that these point totals don’t carry over from event to event, as each tourney starts with a clean slate. Additionally, those interested in joining in to these events will have to agree to cross-play matches, meaning you’ll likely face a keyboard and mouse player if you’re on console.

There are also a number of changes such as the disabling of the Port-A-Fortress and a number of other fixes. The full patch notes can be read here.

Our Thoughts

We suspect it won’t be long before people begin to complain that console players should not be matched with KB+M players in competitive, so we do hope there will be an option to break those segments up. Regardless, these additions do sound fun. Particularly that Quadcrasher.

Source: official site

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Fortnite PS4 is Getting Cross-Play with Xbox, Switch and More

At long last, the nonsense excuses that have kept PlayStation 4 cross-play from happening are crumbling like the house of cards they are. Sony Interactive Entertainment is ready to begin opening up its cross-platform options starting today with Fortnite.

playstation 4 cross-play

The news comes by way of a blog post from Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera, who announces that the company “has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content” after what it calls a “comprehensive evaluation process.”

The first of these select third-party games will be Fortnite, which will be the focus of an open beta starting today. According to the post, the test will monitor the “technical and social” experience along with ensuring that “cross-platform play is best on PlayStation.” Whatever that means.

This beta allows Fortnite to be one of the first games to allow cross-platform play across PS4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Mac.

“For 24 years, we have strived to deliver the best gaming experience to our fans by providing a uniquely PlayStation perspective,” writes Kodera. “Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”

Our Thoughts

FINALLY. If this opens up the floodgates for other multiplayer and MMO games to be played cross-platform, then this is a red-letter day indeed. Here’s to SIE knocking off its hand-wringing and letting people play together!

Source: PlayStation Blog

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The Fortnite Glyph Cube has Reached its Destination

So that intriguing Fortnite Glyph Cube? The one that’s been slowly rumbling its way across the battle royale map? It apparently has finally met its ultimate fate, arriving to its destination in what might be considered unremarkable fashion given other events that have occurred.

fortnite glyph cube

After making its way through Tilted Towers, where it squashed an ever-unfortunate shop that was just rebuilt after its destruction in the comet strike, the Cube dropped itself into Loot Lake where it began to dissolve and fill the water with its weird, purple glyph-ness. Loot Lake is now completely transformed, turning into a pool of gelatin that people can bounce on like a trampoline.

In a game where rockets break the space-time continuum and Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet show up, this can perhaps seem tame. That said, the game’s next season is expected at some point next week, so we anticipate there will be more weirdness to come out of Loot Lake before then. Perhaps by this weekend.

Our Thoughts

This is going to sound a bit like a broken record, but we really do have to repeat that we’d love to see Epic Games take its environmental storytelling into a proper MMO. For now, though, we’ll just have to be content with watching the brow-furrowing strangeness play out in a battle royale shooter.

Source: Eurogamer

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Fortnite News: v5.41 Update, Switch Bundle, Ninja on ESPN Magazine

This is just one of those days where Fortnite Battle Royale is just dropping update after update. So, once more, we’re going to condense the most recent information into one Fortnite news update just for the sake of ease. In this news dump: the Port-a-Fortress goes live; a Nintendo Switch bundle; and streamer Ninja makes it onto the ESPN Magazine cover.

fortnite news update

Let’s address the actual game-related stuff first. v5.41’s latest update has brought the Port-a-Fortress item to Battle Royale, and as the latest video shows it’s a pretty impressive consumable. The update has also brought a consumable Spiky Stadium to Playground that lets players erect a football-like stadium at the toss of an item for mini-game fun, along with the Week 7 Horde Challenge and a new weapon to Save the World.

For those who are eager for Fortnite’s arrival to Nintendo Switch but don’t yet own the system, Nintendo has you covered. A new bundle will pack in the system with red and blue JoyCons along with 1,000 V-Bucks and the Double Helix cosmetics set. The bundle will set you back $300, which is par for the Switch console bundle course. The bundle will be available on October 5th.

Finally, popular Twitch streamer and Fortnite personality Ninja has definitely broken new ground with his arrival to ESPN Magazine. In addition to his appearance on the mag, there will also be coverage during ESPN’s sporting wrap-up show SportsCenter with a profile on the streamer. Fans can tune into that tomorrow in the 7am EST hour.

Our Thoughts

So, line by line: we’re curious to know if more quick-deploying structures will mean the end of on-demand building; that Switch bundle is pretty interesting, but also very likely geared to the Fortnite superfan; congrats to Ninja for the major acknowledgement. There, think that’s everything.

Sources: official site, Engadget, Twitter

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Fortnite is Getting a Port-A-Fortress and Free Online Play for Nintendo Switch

There are some days when you’re romping about the battlefield of Fortnite Battle Royale and you can’t be bothered to click the two or three buttons needed to provide some cover. That’s where the handy Fortnite Port-a-Fortress item will come in handy, giving players of the shooter some ready-made cover with the toss of a grenade.

fortnite port-a-fortress

The Port-a-Fortress, as its name suggests, is a beefed-up version of the Port-a-Fort item that’s in the game now. This new item will be offering a way for players to “take defense to new heights” according to the in-game blurb announcing the item.

The prevailing assumption is that this new item will be Legendary level and will arrive with the next update to Fortnite in a couple weeks’ time. This update also happens to line up with the start of season six and (presumably) answers on where that cube is going.

In other Fortnite news, a blurb on the Nintendo Online FAQ page has confirmed that Fortnite on the Switch will not require membership to the system’s Nintendo Online service to play the game:

“Beginning September 18, 2018, a Nintendo Switch Online membership is required to participate in co-op and competitive online features for many first- and third-party Nintendo Switch games. Some games, such as Fortnite, can be played online without a Nintendo Switch membership.”

This information bodes well for other free-to-play titles on the system such as Paladins and Warframe, though we were unable to find any information confirming as much for either game at the time of this writing.

Our Thoughts

We suspect that Port-a-Fortress will come in handy if a team or a player is under duress, but we also wonder just how sturdy it will end up being. As for the Nintendo Switch online play for the game, this definitely is good news for fans of both the shooter and the system. Hopefully we’ll learn more about other such free-to-play titles very soon.

Sources: Eurogamer, Nintendo website

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PS4’s Better User Experience Cited as Reason for Fortnite Cross-Play Block

In what will likely go down as Sony’s silliest statement yet regarding the Fortnite cross-play block, the company’s CEO has gone on record as saying that the popular battle royale shooter is not widening its cross-platform reach because the PlayStation 4 provides a better user experience. Whatever that means.

fortnite cross-play block

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida addressed the matter during the IFA Technology Show in Germany, explaining that the company believes the PlayStation 4 is an overall better platform for games such as Fortnite.

“Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief. On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. But actually, we already opened some games as cross-platform with PC and some others, so we decide based on what is the best user experience.”

As one would expect, the explanation has not drawn a lot of favorable reaction. Chief among those raising their voices against Sony’s line of thinking is Microsoft’s corporate vice president Mike Ybarra, who took to Twitter with his own take.

“All games should be cross play and progression with the right input flexibility and gamer options,” tweeted Ybarra. “Gaming is diverse, if you only serve to bring joy to part of an audience then you are behind in many, many ways.”

Our Thoughts

Seriously, this is a very confounding explanation. What, specifically, about the Sony/PS4 user experience makes it superior to other platforms? We suspect the answer is vaporous as the company is very likely pulling excuses out of a hat full of PR word salad.

Source: GamesIndustry

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A Cube is Slowly Rolling Across the Fortnite Battle Royale Map

Weird stuff is going down in Fortnite Battle Royale, and in a game where there’s missile surfing, sky cracks and Thanos occasionally rampaging, that’s saying something. The latest bit of odd: a Fortnite cube that is rolling along the battlefield completely under its own power.

fortnite cube

The giant, purple, grumbling cube just appeared on the map without any warning and now is beginning to lumber its way to an unknown destination. According to the sourced report, it appeared to be making a straight run to Salty Springs but has since turned a bit, heading in the general direction of Dusty Divot.

Initially, the cube was presumed to be rumbling along one time a day, but it has since sped up making its way along every hour and 43 minutes. Presumably, it will get to wherever it’s going by the time the shooter’s next season kicks off.

In other Fortnite BR news, an August state of development post has outlined a number of tweaks including weapon balance, building adjustments, performance and a whole lot more. The complete breakdown can be read here and a short video showing the cube in motion is below.

Our Thoughts

…what…the…heck? We can’t even begin to guess just what sort of things this grumbling purple cube portends. All we can really think of is how awesome it’d be if Epic Games applied these same random events in an proper MMORPG. Imagine logging in to see a cube just…sitting there in the game world.

Sources: Forbes, official site

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Fortnite Battle Royale v5.21 Adds Sniper and Gliding LTMs

It’s another update for the Fortnite Battle Royale faithful with a new weapon and a couple of limited time modes. Fortnite v5.21 is adding a shiny new sniper rifle along with an LTM to take advantage of it, as well as another LTM for those who really like using their Gliders.

fortnite v5.21

Pictured above is the new Heavy Sniper Rifle, which does a thunderous chunk of damage to players and structures – 150/157 and 1050/1100 respectively, depending on which variant you find. The weapon also features less bullet falloff than other sniper rifles, but the tradeoff is a long reload time.

In honor of weapons that let people get blown away before being able to do anything about it, a new Sniper Shootout LTM is live with this update as well. As the name suggests, this mode only has sniper rifles on offer as weapons along with a 50% reduction in floor loot spawns.

If battling others with sniper rifles sounds like a lot of not-fun, there’s another LTM called Soaring 50s. In this 50v50 mode, players can deploy their Gliders while falling from large heights and the map has been littered with extra Impulse Grenades, Bounce Pads and Launch Pads.

For Save the World players, you get a new hero and a Bullet Proof Husks weekly challenge.

All of the update’s patch notes can be read here.

Our Thoughts

We wholly expect the complaints about this new sniper rifle to come fast and thick, if they’re not already. Generally, we avoid reading replies to the Fortnite Twitter feed. That’s some free digital life advice for you, friends.

Source: official site

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