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Why the Spy Within Fortnite LTM isn’t good and what can be done to fix it

(Image Credit: Epic Games)
(Image Credit: Epic Games)
Izaak
ANALYST
Modified 23 Dec 2020, 00:22 IST
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The Spy Within was Fortnite's answer to the popularity of Among Us, but it has some significant problems which make the game mode dysfunctional as a social deduction game.

The Spy Within game mode is the Fortnite version of Among Us, which separates a group of 10 players into two teams of hidden roles. While this game mode has the basics required to be a social deduction game, Fortnite hasn't done enough to make the game actually function smoothly, and it often feels more limiting and chance-based than other social deduction games.

Problems with the Fortnite Spy Within LTM

One significant downside with the Spy Within LTM is the difference in the player culture. Among Us used its game design to encourage players to play the game with some freedom, and provided ample discussion time for the group to share information. 

The perspective and map design in Among Us also allows players to go about their tasks while still keeping an eye on their fellow crewmates; something which is vital for making things difficult for the imposters.

With the Fortnite version, the Spy Within maintains Fortnite’s aggressively pacing by giving only 70 seconds to discuss and share information. Given the player base, most of these discussions amount to a single player stating a name, which is followed by everyone voting without much thought.

The Spy Within LTM also forces players into a first-person perspective, which naturally limits what they can see. This limiting factor means that players often don’t even have the chance to witness what the other players are doing, giving the crew little to no information to base their decisions on.

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Finally, although the game mode assigns players a color to identify them by, the high degree of personal customization in Fortnite means that color identification isn’t generally possible, let alone useful. The colors only manifest themselves as a faint glow around the player models, something that is only marginally noticeable at best. This becomes a bigger problem in maps with multiple shared characters.

What could Fortnite do to fix the Spy Within LTM

The problems with the Spy Within game mode seem to stem from Fortnite simply not doing enough to adapt the social deduction genre into its game engine. It seems like the game mode was brought to a minimally playable state before it was shipped out, rather than being suitably tested and adjusted to fit its unique design.

For example, putting the game in first-person was a deliberate choice, given that Fortnite defaults to third person but it doesn’t seem like they really thought through that decision. For the game to function in first-person, they would need to create ways for players to have increased situational awareness, or have it done in such a way that the reduction in situational awareness wasn’t so punishing.

Had they, instead, simply kept it in third-person and made the tasks larger and easier to click on; players could at least keep an eye on their surroundings, and killers would need to be more careful around groups of players.

Similarly, significant changes to their lighting system could help make the game feel like it encourages players to gather information, rather than simply wander around aimlessly hoping not to be eliminated.

If the map was brighter and more well lit, and the color of each player was more identifiable, then players could confidently share information about player movement during the discussion phase.

This would make the discussions generally more useful, as players could begin to actually deduce the spies from the crew. This would necessitate extending the amount of time for discussion. To further encourage discussion, it might make sense to either limit the game mode to those with a working microphone, or implement a better text chat system.

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Why Fortnite created its own answer to Among Us

Among Us has effectively taken over online gaming, easily reaching a number of players that has managed to dwarf even Fortnite. In an odd turn of events, Fortnite has found itself in a position to chase a trend set by something else, which it has done by introducing this game mode.

While it initially began as a simple one-off creative mode adopted by the game’s official LTM cycle, the fact that Fortnite has chosen to continue adding maps shows that they are more invested in the series than was initially assumed.

The new map puts players on board a ship with a unique layout, which changes how players are encouraged to approach the game. On this map, corridors are tight and main rooms are huge, which encourages players to avoid traveling and spend time in quiet observation in the larger areas.

Published 23 Dec 2020, 00:22 IST
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