Fortnite is having an identity crisis with building

Epic Games
Epic Games /

Building is one of the few mechanics that sets Fortnite apart from the competition, but is Epic working to make it obsolete?

Fortnite has evolved quite a bit since the battle royale game launched in September 2017.

Over the years, Epic has introduced new gameplay elements, such as vehicles, reboot vans, etc. Some of these mechanics have been borrowed from competition, which spawned in the wake of Fortnite‘s success. But despite all of the changes and all of the battle royale clones, there is one mechanic that has kept Fortnite unique: building.

Building has been both a blessing and a curse for Fortnite. While building is a big part of what separates Fortnite from other battle royale games, the fact is not everyone enjoys the mechanic. This is especially true for those who aren’t particularly good at it. You could be the best FPS player in the world, but if you can’t build, you’re as good as dead when it comes to the top 10.

What Epic also noticed, especially as it relates to competitive play, is that building resulted in boring competition – especially late game. In earlier seasons, Fortnite‘s late game would turn into a “just build” strategy. This was boring to watch and really didn’t offer any sort of competitive balance for those who may be better at other elements of the game, like shooting.

In recent seasons, Epic has attempted to address the controversial mechanic. They’ve added weapons and items to counter pro-builders, they’ve made the late-game storms move so you can’t turtle, and they’ve even implemented caps on the number of materials someone can carry. Although, the material cap now only applies to Arena modes.

The point is, Epic has tried multiple times to address – and even nerf – the very core mechanic that makes Fortnite different. Building is a controversial mechanic that isn’t very fun if you aren’t good at it. And it seems the community is split on it.

The pros and streamers like it, obviously; but, that’s because they’re good at it. Casuals, like myself, who don’t have that “build first” mentality, wouldn’t mind seeing less emphasis on the mechanic – especially late game. I want the person with the best shooting skills to win, not building. I want building to be used as a tool in combat, not be the primary focus. Of course, people who excel at building probably feel the opposite.

Herein lies the problem for Epic. What do they do?

Obviously, they want Fortnite to be as popular and accessible as possible. An emphasis on building prevents that from happening because not everyone is good at it. And if you aren’t good at something and get trounced early on by someone with much better building skills, the easiest thing to do is quit and play a different game. That’s not what Epic wants, but it seems even the developer is struggling with a solution to the mechanic. This struggle has never been more evident than with Season 10.

Fortnite’s 10th season launched last week and introduced the B.R.U.T.E., a giant, powerful mech that destroys everything and anything in sight. The controversial vehicle, which seats two players (a driver and a gunner), is able to dash, super jump and stomp nearby enemies and structures – flattening buildings with ease. In doing so, B.R.U.T.E. has effectively neutralized building.

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You can be the best, fastest builder in the game, but one stomp by the B.R.U.T.E. will send your lovely creation crumbling down. As someone who sucks at building, I absolutely love it. As you can probably guess, the pros and streamers hate it.

I’ll be the first to admit, the B.R.U.T.E. is incredibly overpowered, and there’s not enough weapons in the game currently to counter him. So yes, if you aren’t in a B.R.U.T.E. come end-game, you’re probably dead. Its overpowered-ness is fun, provided you are the one sitting in its cockpit. If you’re on the outside, you’re probably cursing Epic for introducing such a broken, overpowered vehicle.

The B.R.U.T.E. has completely altered the meta of Fortnite, and not everyone is convinced it’s for the better. I love the fact that it has rendered builders useless if I’m sitting in one, but even I’ll admit its stupid strong. And even potentially ruining the game.

But the B.R.U.T.E. was only the first step in what now seemingly feels like is Epic’s mission to curb building. Season 10’s first content update introduced Fortnite‘s first no-build zone. Neo Tilted (formerly Tilted Towers) is now Tilted Town, an old western settlement that prohibits harvesting or building.

It effectively serves as a counter to the B.R.U.T.E. as well as pro-builders. It is truly the wild west where only the best gunslingers will excel. I love it, but it’s another divisive implementation. Builders hate it.

Right now Tilted Town is just one no-build zone. But more importantly, it’s addition is clearly a sign that Fortnite is having an identity crisis. Is Epic really working towards limiting a mechanic that is one of the few truly separating it from other battle royale games? More importantly, is this what the community wants? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.