Epic commented on the state of the Fortnite meta in a short blog post today, addressing the anxiety in the community over recent nerfs to harvesting and shotguns. With shotgun damage and resources from harvesting down, the intent was to diversify winning strategies that don't boil down to endlessly build-battle and double-pump. (I'm referring to those massive, incomprehensible towers some players make in 1v1s and the ability to switch quickly between shotguns for fast damage, for those out of the loop.)
"It’s important to support a variety of late game strategies, that don’t boil down to 'just build lol'. We strongly believe that the evolution of Fortnite supports a wide range of play styles and counterplay." the post reads. "Currently, the superiority of shotguns, rockets, and uncapped building are such a dominant play style in the final circle that most other strategies are being drowned out."
A diversity of playstyles isn't anything to be alarmed about, but Epic's comments on the building meta might send some more advanced players into a fit. "We are exploring changes to weapon balance and resource economy, like e.g. resource caps."
Currently, all resource caps sit at 999 units. In tandem with harvesting nerfs that reduce how much of a given resource you obtain from finding them in the world or smashing them to bits with a pick axe, a lower resource cap would discourage a strict dependence on massive build fights for the endgame (or an excess of showy bouts between skilled players). With harvesting slowed and capped, you'll really want to limit splurging during encounters.
"You should be able to find Victory Royales through multiple strategies. Shotguns should be strong, but other weapons have room to grow. Not every encounter should have to end in a build-off. We want to empower you to showcase your skill, strategy, and tactics in all variety of ways."
A recent buff to the reach and structure damage of C4 reflects this ethos. With multiple players dancing around on structures in the sky, a few well-placed explosives will send the whole thing tumbling down. Stink bombs, added in the v4.4 content update, are area denial tools, intended to prevent players from camping in fortresses for too long.
Increased reload time and reduced ammunition reserves for rocket launchers seem intended to push players toward these tools as well, and while it's been nice from a moderately skilled player like myself to feel more capable against the best builders, some players, understandably, aren't too pleased.
Reddit user Amathyx sees uncapped building as the variable that separates skilled players from the rest: "I'm not even a particularly good builder, but that's one of the main things that makes me want to strive to improve myself as a player." They continue, "Minimize the skillful gameplay that has evolved from building and I lose a major motivation to play, it's the most unique aspect about the game and adds more to varying playstyles, not less."
It's the endtimes for Flluxor: "The most important aspect of what makes this game unique and original has been considered a problem by the developer themselves. GG boys, it was fun while it lasted."
Reddit user Plexicle is a minority in the thread, willing to see Epic's ideas through: "I'm optimistic. I know building is the unique feature of the game, but I agree sometimes it's excessive. I had a game earlier today where I had like 6 or 7 1v1 build-offs in a row just because people are getting better at the game. I'm not complaining that it wasn't fun or anything, but honestly it felt like a bit of a drag by the end of the game."
Personally, I fall in Plexcile's camp. I don't take a vague blog post as proof that building is going away or will factor less in separating skilled players from the rest. However, I do think that variety is Fortnite's greatest strength. Returning week after week to find jetpacks or bounce pads or shotguns nerfed is always exciting before it's an issue—changes, however irreverent, force creativity. When I see another player across the way, I'm thrilled by the methods of ruination available to me. But I always appreciate those options as an augment to building above all else.
Building is Fortnite's identity, its primary verb, and to place it on equal ground with every tactic feels like a mistake. There should be creative methods for countering inhuman building skills, and inhuman builders shouldn't be allowed to build into infinity. I don't think that means build-offs are going anywhere, just that they won't be a one-size-fits-all solution to every encounter. Epic isn't naive enough to reduce Fortnite into a cartoonish PUBG. For now, I have faith the Fortnite team knows what people like about Fortnite. They just want you to like more things about it. With Fortnite Season 5 and a $100 million prizepool for the first year of formal competition, you'd better bet they don't want to reinvent Fortnite now.
Comments edited for style.