Loot-spilling cube monsters (yeah, the cube was zombies) arrived with the Fortnitemares update earlier this week, and hoo-boy, a lot of players are mad. The hungry NPCs infinitely spawn near cube monoliths, which themselves crowd the map with greater frequency as a match progresses. Players can't farm materials without worry anymore, and late game positioning has become a complicated affair with so many braindead grunts beelining for the nearest player's head.
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Dissenting players argue that cube monsters, glider redeployment, and faster late-game storm circles have changed the meta completely, erasing comfortable, practiced strategies. They are bewildering, upsetting changes—the cube monsters in particular—but even more upsetting is that the monsters are getting shelved for the Fall Skirmish Grand Finals this weekend at Twitchcon. The cube monsters abscence is tragic because they represent the exact kind of constant, bewildering change that makes battle royale such an interesting genre to play and the only reason it's fun to watch.
Epic may have removed cube monsters due to issues in technical testing (opens in new tab), but it's still shouldering a lot of blame here. Game development isn't easy, especially with Fortnite's near weekly updates, but with two seasonal skirmish series almost up, the time for Epic to implement sufficient technical testing into their release schedule is long overdue. Remember this low-gravity field fiasco from the Summer Skirmish?
Here's the gist on what won't be in play during the grand finals: no cube monsters, no port-a-forts or fortresses, and no shockwave grenades. The latter additions have been causing some lag issues in the late game, so their removal isn't surprising, but the cube monsters' removal, no matter how necessary, will vindicate the loudest monster naysayers out there, the most dogged get-off-my-lawners of Fortnite. My former excitement for the finals has since totally deflated.
Look to traditional sports or esports and it's easy to agree with them. Footballers don't have to worry about streakers becoming fair play or about the floor turning into lava. But football isn't battle royale. CS:GO isn't battle royale. Call of Duty isn't batt—OK, scratch that one. Point is, battle royale should celebrate and reward adaptative, resourceful play. It's a game of wits first, and a game of skillfully pointing and clicking on heads second. On-the-spot ingenuity is what players are tested on, and the resulting surprise plays are what make it so interesting to watch.
As it stands, Fortnite's competitive matches are as predictable and boring as they come. Players spend the early game largely avoiding conflict unless kills are heavily incentivized, then quietly farm materials for the bulk of the mid-game. Once the storm forces everyone to say hello, players will build snaking tunnels to continue avoiding conflict, trying to pick off opponents via fast window edits. It's a massive, indecipherable game of peek-a-boo.
Above: Pro games get crowded near the end.
You'll typically see 50 or more players still alive when the circle reaches the size of a football field (no wonder late-game lag has been an issue). Pull up someone who knows games but doesn't know Fortnite and they'll ask why the ability to sit in small rooms is worth so much money. Cube monsters may not have been the solution to the turtling epidemic, but they'd certainly change the dreadfully boring endgame and make mid-game more than a tree-hating competition.
Based on watching pros play on their Twitch streams, cube monsters distract from focused material farming and make it much easier to track other players early on. Monsters spawn more frequently as matches progress, pulling players away from bashing trees and rocks and cars, forcing them either to relocate or fight back. In both instances they're likely to run into other players, either by encroaching on their territory or making their position known by shooting the grumpy purple fools.
My educated guess: less farming and more conflict in mid-game could lead to a less crowded endgame with fewer materials to turtle with. Players might want to be more conservative with fewer materials, but with cube monsters spawning in, sitting in one spot would be very difficult. And hell, the chaos just makes for a more exciting viewing experience. I'm relieved that glider redeployment and faster final circles are staying in—at the very least we'll see a quicker, more mobile endgame.
But I still don't understand why longtime Fortnite players, pro or not, are so afraid of change. Embrace the cube monsters, you cowards. Embrace them, because once Epic takes care of late-game lag issues (please do that), you might get left behind.