If you haven’t yet heard, Epic Games, the people behind the massive success of Fortnite: Battle Royale, had previously announced that they were looking to introduce a series of balance changes to decrease the dominance of building and shotgun use as a strategy.
One part of this goal seems pretty simple: Shotguns could be pretty easily brought in line with the balance of other weapons by just reducing their range and / or damage values to decrease their relative killing power. But it’s not that simple.
See, the issue isn’t that shotguns are that much stronger than any other weapon… in any basic encounter. In reality, shotguns do their job at being the best tool in close-quarters combat, but next to useless anywhere else. It’s not the numbers behind the blast that makes the guns too strong, it’s the playstyles encouraged by Fortnite’s biggest feature: The Build Mechanic.
By effectively taking advantage of this tool, players can quickly and effectively wall themselves off from long range attacks at any time, instantly creating massive fortresses from nothing. If one player has a shotgun and the other has a rifle, and the shotgun player is able to react to attacks from the rifle player to put up even a single wall between the two, the fight could go on for ages. Building will allow the shotgun player to either run the rifle player almost out of ammo, forcing them to chew through wave after wave of constructed barriers, or approach and break down the walls, entering the structure and tracking down the shotgun player.
But the shotgun player has a shotgun. And by forcing the rifle player into close quarters, they’ve just given themselves an advantage.
At the same time, Epic understands that a direct nerf to building would not sit well with their players. Building is what makes Fortnite stand out against other Battle Royale titles, and part of what makes its games so interesting to watch. They needed to introduce a tool that could effectively combat building without making building weaker by itself.
And if a new leaked entry onto Storm Shield One is to be believed, that tool may be the Heavy Sniper Rifle.
While the weapon’s stats are akin to what one might expect from a Fortnite Sniper (Kills in one shot to the head, or two shots to the body), the real kicker lies in the weapon’s description text:
“Sniper Rifle: Heavy. Powerful and accurate rifle with a bolt-action mechanism with an extremely slow reload. Shots pierce through the first wall it hits.”
If it’s real, this is an interesting approach to balancing the build mechanic. It’s a weapon dropped by the game’s random loot system, and with the game continuing to add more and more weapons, a person’s chances of scoring this one can be somewhat slim. However, this could possibly work in favor of the effectiveness of wall penetration: Since the weapon is uncommon, most players won’t build up double walls or keep moving behind them to account for its presence, granting those who have the rifle some easy pickings.
And while the rifle does not offer the ability to see through the wall it penetrates, experienced players can take advantage of Fortnite’s visual cues that accompany the build mechanics to determine where sneaky opponents are hiding. The most common player-built wall, the wooden wall, is a cobbled-together mess of wooden planks. Though the wall is mostly solid, there’s a few cracks between planks that can be seen though. This could allow a player to easily spot a potential target behind cover.
And – yes – it is technically possible to shoot in between these cracks with any weapon, this can prove very, very difficult in a firefight.
This weapon might be an example of how Epic will look to balance their games in the future, introducing more and more weapons with wall-breaching capabilities. However, this will be a careful balancing act, as too many of these weapons will be almost identical to the direct nerf to building they’ve feared for so long.
Perhaps future updates to the game could see additions of wall types that cannot be shot through, but cost increased resources as a trade-off.
One thing for sure is that Epic Games is definitely listening. They’ve shown themselves in the past to be very willing to engage with the community and adjust the game according to player feedback, which has tremendously aided Fortnite’s success over the years.
Look out for the Heavy Sniper Rifle to hit the Battle Royale-fields sometime in the near future.
(Or this leaked info could be totally fake. That’s also a possibility.)
Featured Image Via Flickr / Whelsko