The notorious v8.20 update removed the fan-favorite ‘siphoning’ from all core game modes. Epic didn’t initially release a statement as to why, but have now issued a long blog post on the subject.

Epic’s decision to cut away the siphoning from casual modes was not well received as both competitive and casual players loved the mechanic.

In a new blog post, Epic Games seeks to clarify their reasoning for the removal. In addition, they address other important changes that have occurred in the past month including Stretched Resolution, FOV sliders, and more.

Statement on Siphon Changes

The original siphon mechanic was introduced in the Infinity Gauntlet LTM

The blog post begins with a lengthy bit about the siphon changes implemented in v8.20. For fans of the Siphon (which seemingly includes most of the Twitter, Reddit, and FortniteINTEL communities), the post will anger you without a doubt.

Siphon / Material Change

‘Let’s start with the Siphon and building material changes.

Under the pressure of intense broadcast competition, play styles differ significantly from regular play, with less aggression in the early game resulting in a crowded end-game overabundant in turtling. We introduced Siphon during the Pop-up Cup tournaments to provide incentives for aggression that more closely resembles how the regular modes are played, and to increase entertainment value and spectacle.

Everybody enjoyed receiving health and shields for eliminations after we introduced the changes to the core modes, but there was an unexpected consequence: players at large grew more frustrated with Fortnite play, feeling they had less of a chance due to encounters with high-skill players with full health and shields. Ultimately, Siphon increased engagement for the highest-skilled 10%, while the remaining 90% were more frustrated and played less. 

Over time, players began to disengage in the core modes, stating that the game had gotten too intense to be enjoyable. The reduction in viable play styles in combination with this feedback was the basis of us removing the Siphon mechanic and the material changes from the core modes.

For players that prefer the sharper experience of Siphon, we do offer an always-available Arena mode that includes these Siphon and materials cap changes.’

From our perspective at FortniteINTEL, we cannot agree with Epic’s decisions and conclusions in this matter. The massive support for the siphon ability does not back up the stats that Epic has claimed to have studied above.

It seems Epic Games is completely adamant and unwilling to change their direction on the issue of the Siphon. The above ‘90%’ stat simply seems to be hand-picked from among thousands of factors to justify a bad decision.

Statement on Stretched Res & FOV Slider

Example of stretched resolution being used by Tfue

The next segment of the blog post focuses on the disabling of the Stretched Resolution ‘exploit’ and the possibility of a FOV slider for players that are dealing with motion sickness.

Stretched Resolution and Field of View (FOV)

‘Many competitive players have asked for an FOV slider to improve visibility in vertical end-game build battles. There has also been ire over our removal of stretched resolution (a relic of supporting old 4:3 TVs which results in a distorted screen aspect ratio).

When a game introduces a feature that provides a gameplay advantage, players gravitate towards turning it on to maximize their chances of success, even if this makes the game look and/or feel worse. The stretched characters and distorted views detract from Fortnite as an entertainment experience for all.

Fundamentally, we seek to avoid optional settings which provide players with a significant gameplay advantage.

The current default FOV of 80 is a tradeoff to accommodate:

  • Varied engagement ranges, favoring a low FOV and thus a closer view of enemies.
  • Minimizing potential motion-sickness in players further away from their screen. The further a player’s head moves from the center of the in-game field of view, the more negative the reaction.
  • Minimizing jarring transitions when aiming down sights.
  • Visual fidelity.
  • Performance.’

The above information makes sense to our ears, but still falls flat in terms of what the community wants as a whole.

Competitive players did initially want the return of the stretched resolutions, but many realized that Epic was correct in how it made the game’s viewing experience sup-optimal.

The easist solution to players that are now dealing with motion sickness from the camera’s FOV would be the introduction of a FOV slider to allow between 80 to 100 FOV viewing angles.

Epic Games’ explanation as to why this will not happen makes sense when speaking about performance, but the motion sickness claims are unfounded from Epic. The current 80 FOV has a much higher chance of causing motion sickness for players and an option between 80 and 100 would be preferable for everyone.

Statement on ‘Game Evolution’ & Constant Updates

The pace of updates makes competitive Fortnite a farce – via Epic Games

Epic Game’s blog continues with a statement on the constant changes that mix up the meta of the game. Competitive players have long complained and threatened to quit Fortnite due to the impossibility of practicing with so many constant changes.

Game Evolution

‘We have many goals we want to accomplish for players, and sometimes there is tension between these goals. Special events bring change and freshness to the game, but also affect some of the stable elements that competitive players have trained for.

Weekends are the ideal time for the largest number of players to be able to experience special one-time moments, compete in tournaments, and watch them. 

Fortnite is an ever evolving game. Keeping the gameplay and the tournaments fresh is a key aspect to growing a player and viewership base that enables a large number of high-stakes tournaments for competitors and everyone who enjoys watching them.

We aim to reasonably stabilize gameplay in advance of the Fortnite World Cup Finals. We had hoped to stabilize for all Online Qualifiers, however the new weekly online tournament cadence means we will be doing this for some, but not all.’

Some of Epic’s above statements ring true. The game is ever-evolving, but that is the doing of Epic themselves. Other games like Rainbow Six Siege have grown massively despite slower update schedules.

It is good to see that Epic is seeking to ‘stabilize’ the update cycles in the future to allow the game to find its footing again. The constant updates lead to dangerous territory when a snowball effect of bad decisions (v8.20) destroys community trust.

Statement on Bugs

Fortnite still contains major bugs that haven’t been addressed

Epic Games finished off the post by shedding some light on the process of bug fixing and their current efforts to mitigate future bugs.

Bugs

‘There are a series of bugs most commonly experienced during higher end play we have been inconsistent about acknowledging and addressing.

Here’s a few we’ve recently added to our Trello that were recently resolved or we are actively tracking:

  • Fortnite World Cup Online Opens points tracked incorrectly in client (visual only).
  • Ghost shots: player clearly shoots another player, but no damage is done.
  • Trap can sometimes be placed halfway through a tile  – Fixed in v8.50.
  • The Baller is destroyed if the driver exits the vehicle in a confined space (e.g. 1×1) – Fixed in v8.40.

A lot of them require your help as they are hard for us to reproduce internally and we are utilizing recurring small scale feedback sessions with the competitive community to narrow down on fixes. 

We’re committed to doing a better job monitoring bug reports through Reddit, social channels, and in-game reports. Please help us by posting detailed bug reports including video clips.’

Epic also put a small statement about how they want to improve their communication with competitive players in the future to avoid animosity.

Future Topics

‘Re-evaluating how we communicate with our competitive players includes touching on topics you care about in places you’re having discussions. Going forward, we will be more present in online forums to chat about the evolution of Arena and competition formats as we progress along the competitive season.’

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A life-long Call of Duty player, Bachelor of Game Design, and a lover of all things eSports. Born in Finland, living in the States. To me, video games aren't a part of life. Rather, life's just another part of video games.