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Feature Article

Fortnite Update 5.21 Patch Impressions: The Good And The Bad

Fortnite's latest update is a mixed bag.

The newest Fortnite patch, v5.21, launched this week on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile. For Battle Royale, it adds two limited-time modes, Soaring 50s and Sniper Shootout, while a new weapon--the wall-piercing and super-deadly Heavy Sniper--joins the arsenal. You can read the full patch notes here. We've spent some time with the new update and here are our thoughts:

Soaring 50s LTM Is A Letdown:

A variant of the standard 50v50 mode, Soaring 50s gets its name from its focus on giving you more mobility options. The biggest part of this is that you can re-deploy your glider when you're anywhere higher than 10 meters in the air. You will also find a greater-than-normal number of launch pads, bounce pads, and impulse grenades to give you more opportunities to zoom through the air.

I played a handful of Soaring 50s matches and found the experience to be mostly the same as the standard 50v50. It's the same fast, frenetic, and frame rate chugging experience you've come to know and enjoy--or not. (I was playing on Xbox One X, but your mileage may vary). The "soaring" twist doesn't add much or alter how matches play out in our experience. That being said, it is fun to be able to jump off buildings or build ramps knowing you can escape safely by gliding to the ground. However, I kept asking myself why I would want to do that. Staying alive is critical in Fortnite, and the new mobility options give you more methods to escape. But another key element of Fortnite's team-based modes is staying close to teammates who can revive you. Soaring away in the heat of battle may let you escape quickly, but it can end up isolating you from the very teammates who could save you. The greater volume of launch pads and bounce pads makes the action more fast-paced and chaotic, but not any more fun in my experience. Soaring 50s is a more chaotic version of 50s, and if that's what you're after, it delivers. But it's not up my alley.

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Sniper Shootout LTM Is Tense And Thrilling:

The other new LTM is Sniper Shootout, which only features sniper rifles. These include scoped rifles like the just-launched Heavy Sniper, as well as non-scoped long-range weapons like the Hunting Rifle. Snipers-only is a mainstay in the shooter genre, and Fortnite's version will feel immediately familiar. The anxiety-inducing crackle of sniper rifle fire is now all around you, and it's very stressful and tense. In terms of strategy, I found that taking the high ground was not always the best tactic. While it does allow you to scan far-away distances and get a jump on enemies, the top of a tower or a mountain leaves you exposed, and it's exactly where other players will expect you to be. I had the most success when I took aim from unexpected locations, like through low-level windows and behind rock structures. Positioning is important, but it all comes down to your aim and how cool you are under fire.

Sniper rifles pack a punch but won't knock you down in one shot (most of the time). So it's critically important to have health packs and shield buffs in your inventory. Thankfully, these can be found all over the map in Sniper Shootout, so there is no excuse for not healing.

If you make it to the final stages of a match, with 25 or fewer people left, you're likely to find yourself in 1v1 cat-and-mouse firefights. These are some of the most tense and thrilling battles Fortnite has to offer. It's also a great opportunity to steal a kill. If you come across two players going head-to-head, they likely won't see or hear you, and with all their efforts occupied in staving off the other player, they're very exposed. There is no shame in stealing kills this way. This is actually the second iteration of Sniper Shootout, and I'm glad Epic removed the scoped assault rifles from the previous version. This is easily one of the best Fortnite limited-time modes. In addition to just being a lot of fun, it's a great avenue to practice your sniping skills.

Heavy Sniper Packs A Punch:

The new weapon added in v5.21 is a big bruiser. The Heavy Sniper, which has Epic- and Legendary-level versions, will pop up in regular loot, chest, supply drops, and vending machines. As its name suggests, the Heavy Sniper packs a punch. It does 150+ damage per shot and 1050+ damage to structures, which makes it useful in weeding out enemies trying to hide. Also notable is that the Heavy Sniper bullets have less bullet drop than other sniper rifles. This sounds like a small change, but it makes the rifle very precise at long-range distances. This sets it apart from Fortnite's other sniper rifles, which require you to lead enemies or aim above them to account for bullet drop.

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The Heavy Sniper is deadly, but with just one bullet in the chamber at a time and one of the longer reload times of all of Fortnite's sniper rifles, it mandates that you make the most out of every shot. The weapon is available across all of Fortnite's modes, but I recommend jumping into Sniper Shootout to put it to the test right away, as its drop rate in that mode is significantly higher than anywhere else. Overall, the Heavy Sniper is a welcome addition to Fortnite's weapon lineup that makes sniping an even more useful tactic.

What do you think about Fortnite's new v5.21 update? Let us know in the comments below!

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Eddie Makuch

Bring back the Whalers.
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