A decent part of Fortnite‘s meteoric success has been the capability for players on non-Sony platforms to play the game with friends regardless of what console, mobile phone, or PC everyone is using. One side effect of that system, though, is that it pits players using handheld controllers or imprecise touchscreen controls against those using the more precise aiming of a keyboard and mouse.
Developer Epic now says it will be taking steps to account for this potential imbalance soon. Community Manager JustMooney1 writes on Reddit that the company is “working on some matchmaking tech… that’ll pair you against folks based on your choice of peripherals,” meaning users playing with a keyboard and mouse will go against others using the same control scheme. Further down the Reddit thread, another Epic representative promises that more details will be available next week.
Currently, the PS4 is the only console that officially supports mouse-and-keyboard controls for Fortnite—that support was recently restored after being inadvertently disabled in a recent update. Xbox One players can currently use third-party adapters such as the XIM4 to get those controls working on the console, as Microsoft continues to work on long-promised official mouse-and-keyboard support.
For now, Microsoft says it offers developers API tools that can detect (and potentially segregate) players using XIM-style mouse-and-keyboard tools. That could be important, as the console versions of Fortnite are tuned to support aim assistance for players using standard controllers.
An unfair advantage?
Use of a keyboard and mouse among Fortnite‘s console fanbase isn’t without controversy. Following a “Summer Skirmish” event earlier this year, some observers accused winner Idropz_Bodies of using a keyboard and mouse on the PS4 version of the game to gain an “unfair” advantage. Epic later confirmed in a statement to Forbes that he had actually used a controller and that, “furthermore, we do not restrict input device for players on our platforms in an effort to promote accessibility for our entire audience.”
While it’s conventional wisdom that mouse-and-keyboard players generally have a distinct aiming advantage over controller users in shooters, the actual evidence can be more mixed depending on the game. For Gears of War 4, for instance, Microsoft last year introduced permanent cross-platform play after a brief test showed “Windows 10 and Xbox players had closely matched results when comparing Average KD, Score and Kills per match based on skill ratings.”
As Microsoft’s Senior Director of PC and Mobile Gaming Kevin Unangst told PC World back in 2010, “Game design choices can balance or tip the scales, much in the same way that a PC game can be built to use a gamepad or keyboard and mouse, and can implement either or both well or poorly. It’s the developer’s job to find the right balance.”
- Xbox One’s mouse-and-keyboard era will begin in “coming weeks,” Microsoft says
- Xbox One November System Update; Adds Mouse And Keyboard Support, Announces New Razer ‘Designed for Xbox’ Lineup
- Epic’s changing Fortnite matchmaking to save console players from keyboard and mouse
- Keyboard and mouse controls finally hit Xbox One this week
- Xbox One mouse-and-keyboard support could be rolling out soon