Epic Games released Fortnite patch 5.20 today, and the update brings significant performance improvements to the Nintendo Switch as well as a new Double Barrel Shotgun and a new Limited Time Mode (LTM) called Steady Storm that offers no respite from the storm's inexorable crawl.
Many of Fortnite's most ardent fans hoped this patch would shake up the meta, which has quickly turned into spamming a Drum Gun or explosives until your enemy's building materials have all been depleted. Critics have complained that recent changes to Fortnite have made shotguns obsolete, rendered assault rifles all but useless, and trivialized building to a point where it's often better to shoot than to build.
This update seems unlikely to address many of those concerns--Epic didn't nerf SMGs or improve building--but the Double Barrel Shotgun might address one complaint. As its name implies, the new shotgun holds two high-damage shots at a time, placing it somewhere between the Pump Shotgun and Tactical Shotgun in terms of fire rate. (At least based on the precious few seconds we spent with the gun before someone killed us.)
The Double Barrel Shotgun is basically Epic's way of allowing the practice of running two Pump Shotguns without reverting several changes meant to prevent the strategy from working. It's too early to tell if that will be enough to please those who want shotguns to return to the meta, but at least it's clear that Epic hasn't spent all its time working on new SMGs to encourage people to spray and pray whenever they see a foe.
Patch 5.20 does address some concerns that console players had, though, and that revolves around performance. Several prominent console players have recently complained about Fortnite suffering lag spikes, frame rate drops, and other technical issues after the last few updates. Epic said the patch offered "significant GPU optimization on Switch" by moving to a new "high-end forward renderer" to offer improved performance.
That doesn't mean a whole lot for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players, but it does show that Epic isn't merely focused on adding content to the game or improving the experience for those Fortnite players with a gaming PC. Fortnite is supposed to be a truly multi-platform game where anyone can play with anyone else and even console players have the chance to compete with their PC counterparts in official tournaments.
The other big change introduced with this patch is an LTM called Steady Storm. Fortnite's deadly storm typically closes in on the safe zone at a sluggish pace with periods of complete inactivity. This allows people to farm up, loot houses, and fight each other without having to constantly worry about dying to the storm. Steady Storm changes that by having the storm constantly--one might say "steadily"--close in on its center.
LTMs are often used as fun little distractions from the main Fortnite experience, but Epic also uses them to experiment with changes before they go live. With a reported 125 million players, drastic changes are likely to be controversial, so it makes sense to have opt-in tests rather than make wholesale changes with no warning. That's unlikely to happen with Steady Storm, but who knows what Epic will learn from the game mode?
Patch 5.20 also includes other changes to the Battle Royale mode, such as the frequency of and cost of using vending machines, as well as some additions to the single-player Save the World mode. You can find a full list of changes Epic made with this update by checking out the patch notes.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.