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The return of Fortnite's god awful drum gun has to be a prank

Fortnite's Unvaulting event presented six items previously removed from the item pool and let the entire player population vote on which would return. I was there. I chipped away at the bounce pad pillar a few times, recalling the early days of floaty trick shots, then moved to the grappler for how it forced players camping in towers to stay on their toes. Good times. 

But the swarm around the drum gun grew and grew until the glass obelisk encasing it shattered. I watched as it spun and rose and returned to the item pool, my tool of torment, my tormenter, the gun we thought was gone and dead for good. The drum gun is back and it's everywhere and I hate it so much. It's so bad that I'm pretty sure Epic is just playing with our expectations a few days before the launch of Season 9. 

Don't get tilted

Apocalyptic, yeah? I think that's the vibe Epic is going for.

It's well known among Fortnite streamers and subreddit regulars that the drum gun sucks, primarily because it compromises practiced building tactics by utterly dissolving them. It gives the average player, which might be a 12 year old that doesn't know how to build at all or me, a tool of destruction, the ability to muck up any player's day regardless of their skill level. Approximately 100 years ago, the drum gun and the SMG (pre-nerf) defined Season 4 as the Season of Spray. Bad times. 

The drum gun is even worse in competitive games, where the drum gun is the meta. You'll see players rolling with a couple drum guns in their inventory, just for the non-stop damage output. With 468 DPS for the uncommon variant and 756 DPS for the rare variant, a fast firing rate, and deep magazine, the drum gun destroys players and buildings faster than any weapon in Fortnite, and by a long shot. Compare that to the legendary pump shotty's 77 DPS, assuming you hit every shot, or the legendary compact SMG's 210 DPS. Yikes.

A lot of misses, but with that rate of fire and damage numbers, those hits hurt. 

Epic quelled panic among pros who were hours away from another week of Fortnite World Cup Qualifiers by saying the drum gun wouldn't be incorporated in competitive play that weekend, but there are still six weeks of qualifiers remaining. It's possible we'll see it in professional play next week, an infamously hated weapon in the pro scene redirecting the course of Fortnite's $40 million flagship competition overnight. 

Apocalyptic, yeah? I think that's the vibe Epic is going for.

Darkest before dawn

It has to be a prank, part of a big theatrical build-up. I'm convinced the drum gun will disappear with the start of Fortnite Season 9, and that giving players the keys to the place for a week is in line with the themes of ruination Season 8 has been building towards. I mean, the secret character is named Ruin, and his character description reads "All will fall." It's already pretty on-the-nose, and with the gun known for melting builds in play, especially so. There's more.

Fortnite's map is barely recognizable anymore. An icy mountain crashed into its northwest corner, a volcano sprouted up in the northeast, and a terribly foreboding resort town appeared in the southwest. 

RIP, Tilted Towers. 

I can't imagine Epic juggling drum gun balance changes and the on-going Fortnite World Cup with the launch of a new season.

And now, Fortnite's most iconic location has been reduced to fire and smoke and rubble. Titled Towers is gone, destroyed by debris from a volcanic explosion following the Unvaulting vote. Retail Row and Polar Peak also took big hits, with the latter almost ready to collapse into the frozen pit that was once Greasy Grove. It was one of the most devastating events in Fortnite's history, erasing its oldest icons and most popular landing spots in an instant. 

Smoke still fills the sky, casting a dour mood across the map. It's a sad, disorienting sight. Tilted regulars don't know where to go and everyone's packing drum guns that dissolve players and buildings alike, further disrupting old habits. It's on purpose. 

Epic is posing a drastic, imbalanced shift in the meta and map design against themes of ruin and devastation and a lack of control (flashback to seeing the drum gun obelisk shatter) to make players feel like the Fortnite they knew is gone. And it might stay that way, but it won't be this messy. Epic is just having some fun with a week-long mini-apocalypse that will no doubt resolve with the arrival of Season 9 this Thursday. 

Our first tease of Season 9. 

Tilted won't stay a pit for long. Fortnite needs a Tilted Towers, a gladiatorial arena for that third of the lobby that wants immediate action despite the odds. And the drum gun will say goodbye for a second time. It has to. It's annoying in the average lobby and a nightmare in competitive play. I can't imagine Epic juggling drum gun balance changes and the on-going Fortnite World Cup with the launch of a new season, which, if the scale of the live event is anything to go on, might be packing more changes than ever. Epic's developers are working hard enough, too hard, actually.

Besides, whatever new items Epic has planned for Season 9 would've been designed with a specific item pool in mind, and Epic wouldn't compromise that design by keeping such a volatile, powerful, meta-defining item in play, let alone during the lead up to its ambitious competition yet.

So let's take a breather and enjoy Fortnite's most screwed up week ever. The drum gun will be gone in a few days, and the sun will rise over a renewed island where fresh items and some overpowered vehicle or weapon will take the place of the drum gun as Fortnite's latest punching bag.

James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.