Fortnite is introducing what's likely going to be a highly controversial addition to its player-vs.-player battle royale mode: bots.
These artificial intelligence bots will "behave similarly to normal players and will help provide a better path for players to grow in skill," said Fortnite creator Epic Games in a matchmaking update Monday. "Bots will work in conjunction with the new matchmaking system, and as your skill improves, you'll face fewer bots."
These fake players will not be in the competitive game modes, just throughout the general and popular battle royale modes like solo, duos and squads. Epic's "new matchmaking system" means players will be more likely to be in games with players of similar skill. The v10.40 update will be slowly rolled out through different regions across the core battle royale modes.
Players everywhere will be looking to Epic to release more details on how "skill" in Fortnite will be measured, particularly for players who don't want to be included in AI-filled games.
The desire for fairer Fortnite matches has always been there. Despite being the world's most popular game, Fortnite is a notoriously difficult game to play. Quick trigger fingers will only get you so far. The best players must improvise architecture and skillfully navigate it under a hail of gunfire.
Last year a data-loving Reddit user created a comprehensive spreadsheet of their Fortnite sessions to see if skill-based matchmaking is at all a factor in the game (it was not).
In June 2018, Epic released a Playground game mode for players to not only build to their heart's content, but also serve as a training ground for new or novice players.
It's been a tricky balance for Epic to cater to casual players of the game (which now resembles more of a social media platform a la Instagram) and higher skill levels as Fortnite transitioned into a full-fledged esport.
The flash reactions from the Fortnite Battle Royale subreddit is currently all over the place, with some aghast that they would play against AI, and others saying that it's a "great addition." Moreover, AI bots wouldn't affect players who are skilled. It all comes down to how that's tracked, and how transparent Epic would be about that process.