Fortnite’s current season is coming to an end, at long last, on February 20. This means players only have a few weeks left to complete in-game challenges that earn them cosmetics and other rewards. I don’t want any new loot, but I can’t stop doing the challenges.
Fortnite challenges are in-game activities you do to earn specific emotes, skins, sprays, banners, and load screens. They’re grouped in vague themes called missions, which as far as I’m concerned just means they’re spread across too many menus to easily keep track of. Next to each mission is a percentage, showing you how close you are to completing it. Some challenges unlock more challenges. Some have multiple stages, and others are progressive—doing more and more damage, or earning increasing XP. While some challenges involve tasks you’d be doing anyway, like thanking the bus driver or searching chests, others involve more deliberate and sometimes unusual actions like dancing in certain areas of the map or playing specific game modes. There are new challenges pretty much every week, as well as daily challenges, which means whenever I log into Fortnite I’m greeted with more and more ways to earn some stuff.
I don’t care about any of this stuff. I don’t want or need more emotes, skins, sprays, banners, and load screens. I’ve played enough Fortnite this season to already unlock every reward in the game’s Battle Pass, so I’m already swimming in loot I’m not using. I like what I have and am attached to what I use.
I’m never taking off my dog back bling, because it’s a dog, so there’s no reason for me to grind Alter Ego mission challenges to change the style of a wearable pool ball I’m not wearing.
I’m usually too busy checking my phone or rushing back from the bathroom to really appreciate the load screens I’ve earned, so I don’t need to skydive through flaming rings to get a new one.
I’ve never used a spray and don’t think I ever will, so I don’t need to “place top 15 in Duos or Squads with a friend,” a challenge I can’t even complete without begging a friend to play Fortnite.
But I’m still doing these things. I’m trying to dive through those rings. I’m considering accepting the 30 random friend requests I have in hopes of getting a team together. Fortnite has given me a do-to list, and damned if I’m going to leave it undone.
I’m not even enjoying the challenges anymore. I’ve been playing a lot of matches of Team Rumble lately, a mode I’m pretty sure only exists to do challenges. In Team Rumble, two large teams race each other to get 100 eliminations, which gives me the lack of responsibility I need to run around the map to dance on different covered bridges. Last night I played game after game of Team Rumble so I could land in requisite areas for a challenge; after I landed I spent most of the matches fishing in an effort to catch the two more weapons I need to complete a challenge that only pays out XP I don’t need. When I get bored of Team Rumble, I’ve been switching over to the Search & Destroy limited-time mode. It’s a fun mode to play, but I’m really there so I can get weapons from in-game vending machines between rounds—only 14 out of 50 more weapons to go before I unlock the third stage of this challenge, which will probably involve using more vending machines to get more weapons, all of which will earn me yet more XP I don’t need because I’ve already completed my battle pass.
Challenges aren’t just making me obsessive; they’re also making me mean. Last night I downed an enemy and went in for the kill before remembering I had a challenge to damage a downed player by throwing them off something. Carrying enemies is new for Chapter 2, but I don’t do it much; it feels like a more family-friendly version of teabagging, and I hate when players do it to me. But I picked up that enemy and rushed around until I found a cliff high enough to hurl them off of, all to pursue a skin I already know I’ll never wear.
Plenty of players want the rewards for these challenges, but I just can’t stand knowing there’s something I’m not doing. I want to tick off those boxes and see the mission completion go up. I know this is meaningless and not worth stressing over, but I can’t help it. Sometimes, after getting a little too angry when I’m eliminated before visiting the three landmarks I need to hit for a challenge, I’ll swear off challenges and jump into a new game, just intending to have fun. But then I’ll get a pop-up that I inadvertently completed a stage in a challenge I’d forgotten about, and before I know it I’m flipping through mission menus, making lists, and consulting guides all over again. For me, the real satisfaction of completing a challenge isn’t the reward; it’s the brief release from the haunting stress of knowing there’s a task—so many tasks—I could be completing.
In a recent effort to actually appreciate some of these cosmetics I ceaselessly, senselessly grind for, I changed my skin to a woman in climbing gear. I like climbing, so I was excited to realise I’d been carting this skin around. I thought I’d earned it for completing a challenge to climb the highest peak in the game, but some digging revealed that the mountain-climbing challenge was actually for a variation on this skin, which I’d only get if I climbed the peak while wearing the climbing outfit. The variation isn’t as colourful, and I’ve already climbed the inconveniently-placed mountain, but now that I know the variation exists, earning it is my goal for my next Fortnite match. I’m not going to wear the skin—I just want to see the pop-up tell me I’ve earned it. I can’t wait for Fortnite’s next season to free me from this hell of my own design, but a new season will only bring new challenges to stress over.