Cheaters clobbered as Epic Games unleashes Battle Royale ban hammer

Although Epic Games only released its new Battle Royale mode in the free-to-play (FTP) shooter Fortnite a couple weeks ago, it’s already had to unleash a new weapon – the banhammer.

On its game site, Epic Games Community Coordinator Nathan Mooney pulled no punches with a blog post about maintaining the integrity of online matches. “Let’s be straight for a second, nobody likes playing with cheaters. Not you, not me. Nobody,” he wrote. “We’re exploring every measure to ensure these cheaters are removed and stay removed from Fortnite Battle Royale and the Epic ecosystem.”

Mooney was vague about the actual tools and methods Epic is using to identify cheaters, but he did confirm that thousands have already been booted “and we have no plans to stop!”

Fortnite Battle Royale, built using Unreal Engine 4, is a new free-for-all style multiplayer frenzy, where all 100 players begin on a massive map in a floating bus with a glider and a pickaxe. From that point on, it’s every man or woman for themselves. There are weapons to discover, traps to set, and the last one standing is declared the winner of the match.

Epic also announced that it’s rolling out Account Progression in the next few weeks, letting you earn (and presumably accumulate) items as you play. It also encouraged using its contact form to provide any info about possible cheaters, including any video or screenshot evidence.

The game has become insanely popular in just a short time, surpassing seven million players as of this writing (that figure includes all Fortnite players, not just the FTP Battle Royale mode). In addition to the emphasis on cheaters, Epic also released Duos (letting you play Battle Royale with a partner) and Supply Drops (“the best loot you can find” dropping randomly from the sky).

But wait a minute – isn’t there another very popular multiplayer game out there using Unreal that’s quite similar? Indeed there is, and there have been grumblings from PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds about that issue. In a rather rambling interview with PC Gamer, the Bluehole developers seemed to indicate that it was not the style of the Battle Royale mode they objected to, but the fact that Epic implied some sort of endorsement by PUBG in their announcement.

“It was in their promotional video that was posted on Twitter and they would openly mention that they were fans of PUBG,” said Events Manager Sammie Kang. “That kind of gave the impression that we were officially involved in this.” Bluehole also vaguely threatened some sort of “action” against Epic, but it’s not clear what that means.

Epic has announced plans to make the campaign mode of the game free-to-play at some point in 2018. Fortnite is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac.

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