Ranked matchmaking, new healing items added in latest Fortnite update

Steven R. March 27, 2019

The latest Fortnite update has dropped, bringing with it a series of long-awaited additions to the game.

The 8.20 patch has officially launched, introducing ranked matchmaking alongside new items and some surprising balance tweaks.

The centerpiece for the 8.20 update is the new Arena Mode, which serves as a competitive version of Fortnite Battle Royale. The game itself is no different from a standard Battle Royale game, but gives players the opportunity to grind their way to the top of a ranked ladder.

Similar to games like Starcraft and Overwatch, the Fortnite ranking system groups players into tiers. Instead of players trying to work their way from Bronze to Platinum, serious players will be looking to ascend from the Open League to the Contender League, and eventually all the way up to the Champion League.

Reaching the Champion League is the first step to competing in the $30 million Fortnite World Cup event in July, with players on the top tier having the opportunity to compete in Online Open qualifiers. As such, expect popular Fortnite streamers to be grinding in Arena Mode over the coming days.

Casual players will note three key changes in the 8.20 patch, however.

The highlighted addition to the game is the new Poison Dart Trap, a new trap item that functions similar to the Damage Trap but instead fires poison darts across three to four tiles. Players that are hit by the darts take damage over time for seven seconds for a total of 80 damage. This damage applies directly to health, ignoring any shields the target may have.

Three new foragable healing items have been added to the game, with bananas, coconuts, and peppers joining apples and mushrooms. Bananas function identically to apples, granting five points of health for each use. Coconuts grant five points of effective health which can be applied to health or shields similar to the Slurp Juice. Finally, Peppers heal five points of health on use but also grant a 20% boost to movement speed for 10 seconds.

The biggest change for pro players is a hefty nerf to the Baller vehicle. A source of frustration to Fortnite pros since its introduction, the Baller has been changed so that it no longer deals damage to players on impact. Though it can still send enemies flying when hit, the vehicle now has limited value outside its high mobility.

A limited time game mode called The Floor is Lava has been added to Battle Royale. The mode challenges players to race their way upwards while avoiding a rising floor of lava.

Various balance tweaks have been made to weapons. The much-maligned infantry rifle is now a hitscan weapon like the assault rifle, rather than a sniping projectile weapon. The cannon has been changed to allow for easier access and has had its area of effect increased while its impulse and launching effects are reduced.

Alongside these additions to the game are multiple changes to Creative and PVE modes, as well as bug fixes and UI tweaks. The full 8.20 patch notes can be found on the official Fortnite website.