Fortnite, like life, is full of mysteries. Why do we build if we’re only going to destroy? Can taking countless lives to survive a bloodbath really be considered a victory or, indeed, royale? What’s the deal with this tomato guy? Why is he smiling? What does he know? Then there’s the biggest question of all: Does playing with a stretched resolution actually confer an in-game advantage? Epic, it seems, thinks so.
Today, Epic announced that stretched resolutions will no longer be allowed in Fortnite’s competitive Arena mode or in-game tournaments. Why does this matter? Well, for the past year or so, many competitive Fortnite players have taken to switching their screen resolutions from 16:9 (1920 x 1080) to wider, weirder ratios like 4:3 (1440 x 1080) and 5:3 (1600 x 1080). Even longtime holdout Tyler “Ninja” Blevins recently started practicing in stretched resolution to prepare for the April 13 kick off of the Fortnite World Cup, a multi-part tournament series that’s set to serve as the backbone of a year in which Epic plans to award a total of $100 million to esports players.
Players believe stretched resolutions help them by, among other things, giving the funhouse mirror treatment to the size of enemies’ hitboxes—essentially turning them into bigger targets. However, other players have disputed this, saying that unlike in, for example, CSGO, resolution-switching in Fortnite makes characters appear slightly smaller to fit the new resolution. But, in the process, Fortnite does increase players’ vertical field-of-view (FOV), which is especially advantageous during the game’s frantic, onward-and-upward build battles. Then there are other, less tangible benefits of squishing the resolution: Some players say the game feels more responsive when played this way, possibly due to increased frames per second or just personal comfort.
So those are the upsides. The biggest downside is that it makes people’s streams look ugly as hell. Also, it could technically be considered cheating, which has a—let us say—degradative effect on the quality of competition. That probably explains why, even though stretched resolutions will still be allowed in normal play, Epic said in today’s announcement that vertical FOV will soon be locked no matter what resolution you’re playing in.
For many streamers and pros, this is a big change. They’re gonna have to adjust, and they’re gonna have to do it in a hurry, seeing as the Fortnite World Cup qualifiers begin in just 10 days. Ninja, the blue-haired money monster of Fortnite’s own making, is among many expressing irritation about the timing.
“It is mostly about how they are executing everything,” he said on Twitter. “Allowing stretched at the last Secret Skirmish then switching a week after Arena even launches? I was practicing with it and now it’s all wasted. Same for every pro player that uses it.”
“It’s crazy,” said Fortnite pro Chap. “Time after time I am absolutely amazed with how incompetent Epic Games is at running anything ‘competitive.’”
This comes on the heels of other recent balance and pacing changes that rubbed big-name players the wrong way. These include a big increase to the time it takes to harvest materials as well as the removal of a boost to health and materials players got for scoring kills. Both slow down the pace of the game and make it more inviting for new players. Pros can still enjoy the game’s previously aggressive pace in Arena mode, but with longer queue times due to a smaller population of players.
Those changes, however, make sense, given Fortnite’s commitment to mass appeal. This latest one—or at least, the fact that it didn’t happen sooner—is a head-scratcher.
“I understand everybody playing on the same resolution… but why right now?” said streamer and pro player Nickmercs. “Such a monumental change 10 days before the qualifier. Fortnite confuses me maaan.”