Epic Games dropped a curious surprise on the Fortnite: Battle Royale community last week. Apparently, we’re getting an interesting new limited time event called “High Stakes,” complete with its own challenges, a customizable and seriously slick skin called “Wild Card” and a new limited time mode called “Getaway.” Early speculation was that Getaway was going to be some kind of take on capture the flag, and that’s neither entirely wrong nor entirely right. But we got our first look and details on the new mode during Epic’s Pax West stream last night, so let’s take a look.
Here’s how it will work, per the video. It’s a squad mode, where players will compete over four safes that will drop from the sky, each one containing a giant jewel. Players will have to fight their way to the safe, retrieve the jewel and take it to a van elsewhere on the map. The four teams that manage to extract their jewels win. It’s unclear if a player carrying a jewel will be able to build and use weapons, but otherwise, things look pretty straightforward.
It’s actually a pretty big shift for the game, and one that speaks to Epic’s desire to keep growing the basic format of “people on an island shooting at each other.” Fortnite has seen its share of limited time modes over the past year, but all of them have been tweaks small and large to the same basic formula: 100 combatants fighting to the last player, duo, squad, etc. The biggest divergence we’ve seen so far is likely last week’s “Score Royale,” which let players win with alternate activities like looting or coin-collecting.
Getaway is the first mode with genuinely different win conditions, as well as the first mode that you can credibly call something other than battle royale. It’s not quite a traditional capture the flag, but it would fall into that general category. And as in objective-based modes in other games, combat is a big part of how the game works but not, ultimately, the goal. I could actually imagine something like Getaway actually working better for esports than the standard battle royale concepts that we’ve seen in summer skirmish so far. It has a little more narrative and drama baked into it, and the limited safes can be used to force conflict much more quickly than the shrinking storm circle.
I’d expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing in the coming weeks. Battle royale has made Epic Games over a billion dollars, but no matter how much you tweak that one mode, it’s still really the same mode. Eventually, people will tire. Shaking things up and giving people a way to use the same format for genuinely different game modes has the potential to keep the game fresh a whole lot longer.