Huge changes are coming to Fortnite, and that’s okay


Fortnite iOS 14
Everyone should welcome skill-based matchmaking.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Forget everything you know about how to win in Fortnite Battle Royale.

Epic Games has confirmed that it plans to make huge changes to the game that could completely change the way you play. Master builders will suffer most, while new players will have a greater chance of winning matches.

Victory won’t be so dependent on shotgun skill and building the biggest bases. And that’s okay.

Building is everything in Fortnite. It’s what differentiates the Epic smash hit from other battle royale games, and it will never disappear entirely. But for as long as building is the main focus, Fortnite will never be an enjoyable experience for new players.

No matter how good you are at other battle royale games. No matter how long you’ve been perfecting your aim. You won’t win in Fortnite if you can’t build quickly and effectively.

Epic wants to change that.

Fortnite will ‘evolve’ to allow for more play styles

“We are going to continue to make changes to evolve the game to give players multiple ways to counter each other in combat, and create more strategies to win the game,” Epic revealed in a blog post this week.

Epic — and a large number of Fortnite players — feel that shotguns, rocket launchers, and uncapped building are too dominant towards the end of Battle Royale matches. Every other play style is “being drowned out.”

You will rarely finish a game in first place if you don’t find a rocket launcher, and you can’t rush your opponents by building above them in an instant. And it’s not just inexperienced players who are suffering.

You might have been playing Fortnite for a while now. You might feel like you’ve gotten good at the game, and that you know how to build and fight effectively. But you can be eliminated in a second by one lucky shotgun hit, or a carefully placed rocket.

It can be incredibly frustrating.

What’s going to happen?

“We strongly believe that the evolution of Fortnite supports a wide range of play styles and counterplay,” Epic continues.

“We have made a few changes recently — and will continue to make more — to give you options to counter other players in combat, especially later in the game.”

These changes might include adjusted weapon balancing, and caps on building resources. Shotguns should remain strong, Epic says, but other weapons should be able to counter them. And not every encounter should end in a “built-off.”

“You should be able to find Victory Royales through multiple strategies.”

A taster of things to come

You’ll be able to get a taster of what’s to come before Epic makes any big changes to the core Battle Royale experience. We’ve already seen evidence of two brand new game modes that were created with all of this in mind.

“Tactics Showdown” and “Ground Game,” uncovered in game files earlier this week, both take the focus away from building and force players to use natural cover throughout the environment by capping resources.

I mentioned when I wrote about these modes earlier that they might be a way for Epic to test future building adjustments before they’re eventually integrated into the main game, and it seems that theory was accurate.

“We’ll be exploring these changes over the next few weeks,” Epic continues. “We’re excited to hear your thoughts and encourage you to participate in the discussions on our various social channels.”

Why is Fortnite changing?

These changes might sound worrying for long-time Fortnite players who have spent months learning how to dominate the game. And they will have a massive impact on the way Battle Royale is played. But it’s easy to see why they’re necessary.

If you consider yourself a Fortnite pro, go back and watch one of your earliest matches. Notice how building wasn’t your primary focus, and how gunfights were fair because everyone was on the same playing field.

This is no longer the case, and new players are being alienated because they’re being eliminated quickly every time they encounter another player. They don’t have a chance to get good.

You might argue that this is the way it should be. Better and more experienced players, who have invested a lot of time in the game, should have a big advantage over more casual players. They’ve earned it, right? But it can’t be that way.

Epic needs new players

Fortnite is a free-to-play game. Epic makes money by selling in-game cosmetics, but you don’t have to buy them. The experience is the same whether or not you purchase an outfit or forever use the default character skins. The more you play, and the more fun you have, the more likely you are to customize your character.

If you die minutes into every match, you’re not going to care what you look like doing it, and you’re going to give up pretty quickly. And why buy the Battle Pass if you don’t survive long enough to rank up and unlock the goodies that come with it?

The end result is that only experienced players keep returning to the game and spend money. The player base will shrink eventually, and Epic’s revenues from Fortnite will slide quickly.

Don’t panic

Despite all this, it’s important to remember that Epic is a developer that listens to its fans. When it makes a mistake, or it changes something that the vast majority of players don’t like, it is quick to fix it.

Changes to the Battle Royale experience will no doubt happen gradually, then; we will probably see them tested in limited-time game modes before they are integrated into the core experience. And those that don’t work will almost certainly be dropped or reversed soon enough.

Epic might want to make Fortnite more fun for new players, but it won’t want to push out faithful fans in the meantime, or lose the things that made its game so popular in the first place. There is no need for us to panic.