With the emergence of EA’s new game Apex Legends, Fortnite looks to have a legitimate competitor for the first time in the game’s lifespan. Apex is a more close-combat, action-packed game than Fortnite, and it seems as if the 7.40 update is aimed at both speeding up the pace of the game as well as finally implementing many of the changes Epic has been toying with in pop-up cups and LTM modes. The patch is one of the most extensive and most well-received patches in recent months and features the first attempt at a ranked playlist from Epic however that will be covered more deeply in another article. The most important rule changes are listed below with an explanation of how the rule updates affect competitive play styles and strategy.
Hand Cannon & RPG Nerfed
For a while, the hand cannon and RPG combo in both competitive and casual Fortnite have given the played welding the two guns an unworldly advantage over other players. If used correctly, the rocket launcher should be fired at a player hiding in a box made of either wood or newly built brick. When the rocket is about the collide with the aforementioned structure, the player shoots the wall or ceiling with his hand cannon, destroying the wood or unformed brick only a split second before the RPG comes and blows up the inside of the now-opened box that a player was once hiding in.
In the new update, Epic has reduced the structural damage of the hand cannon for both the legendary and epic variants from 157 and 150 to 105 and 100 respectively. This is a very interesting change as it basically makes the hand cannon useless for breaking down walls any time besides immediately it has been placed. For both wood and brick, the hand cannon still does enough structural damage (105 and 100) to break any build as soon as they are placed (90-99 depending on material and structure). However, structures in Fortnite gain health as they age, with the aforementioned wood and brick structures gaining 8 hp every .0625 seconds to be exact. This means that after .0625 second of being placed, both wood and brick structures cannot be destroyed with only one shot from the hand cannon, therefore greatly reducing the effectiveness of the hand cannon & RPG combo in Fortnite.
The RPG was also nerfed in the 7.40 update. Instead of being available in chests as it has been in the past, the legendary variant of the RPG is now only available in supply drops, and the epic variant can only be found in vending machines. While the gold RPG is only available in supply drops, the percentage chance of finding them in drops has been increased from 25 to 50 percent. While this change may decrease the pure number of rocket launchers that are spawned into each competitive game of Fortnite on average, it makes them easier to find and makes supply drops more important as half of them contain the best weapon (especially after the hand cannon nerf) after the 7.40 patch. It will be interesting to see how this change affects competitive play going forward, as not many players go out of their way to search supply drops unless they are in dire need of medical items. The reload time on both variants of the RPG was also increased almost a full second to 3.42 and 3.24 seconds.
Clingers replace Grenades
Back in the days of the Summer Skirmish, Epic released the clinger and it became one of the most overpowered items in competitive Fortnite. Players would spam clingers at low-health opponents who had boxed themselves in. The players were taking advantage of the fact that when the clingers were first added to the game, an explosion of one would cause a chain reaction and every clinger that had been thrown after the first (think a player simply spamming a wall with clingers as they would with dynamite) would explode a split second after the first. This means that after the first clinger exploded, the players’ box would effectively be destroyed and, before the player being attacked could react and build new walls, the second and third clinger would have already exploded, and the player inside the box would be dead.
This problem was fixed after a few weeks, and the clingers will not be overpowered this time around. It is important to note that the clingers were not added back into the game as a response to taking grenades out. Instead, the addition of clingers is a part of the overarching challenge that Epic has been playing around with potential solutions for a few months – players boxing themselves in.
Epic has used many updates to try to create a balance that works for the competitive gaming scene when it comes to the issue of players simply boxing themselves in. Players will do this in two typical situations. The first comes when a player is low health and wants to turtle to survive. Turtling provides a player with an owned wall in all directions, meaning they can safely reload their weapons and heal and not be worried about another player editing into their structure and killing them. Along with turtling when they are low health, players will turtle in competitive games simply to kill time safely. For much of a competitive game of Fortnite, players and their teammates will stay in their self-made group of boxes until the next storm circle forces them to move to another location on their map. Teams will often plan their rotations inside of their bunkers, not opening up their fort to the rest of the lobby unless to edit their wall and fire a quick set of shots at a group of rotating players.
Both reasons for turtling affect the overall entertainment of a game of competitive Fortnite negatively, as they take time away from actual gameplay and bunch the majority of the action into the final few storm circles. This intuitively leads to increasing and annoying lag amounts that make late-game far less interesting than it should be. I believe Epic needs to create a “Competitive” game mode of Fortnite that will be used in tournaments to spread out the most interesting moments in a single game and to reduce lag, making the overall broadcast of a single game more exciting and enjoyable.
The headline news of the Valentines Day morning update was the introduction of the new “Infantry Rifle” to Fortnite. Many speculated what this gun could be, as it seemingly looks and appears to be a mix between the hunting rifle and assault rifle. It has turned out to be almost exactly that, as the newest gun in Fortnite, appearing and sounding like the M1 Garand of past shooter games like Call of Duty 5 and Counter-Strike.
The gun, statistically, is also a very jumbled mix of both the hunting rifle and assault rifle. It is available in 3 variants: common, uncommon, and rare, doing 41,43,45 damage respectively with a 2x headshot multiplier. The gun also has a measly clip size of 8 rounds and the reload speed is comparable to an assault rifle or heavy AR. The one plus side of the gun is that it has first shot accuracy as soon as you ADS, making it the fastest gun behind the hunting rifle in terms of ADS time for first shot accuracy. These stats are not particularly impressive by any measure. However, the infantry rifle does not have a damage drop-off at any range, making it more like hunting rifle/scoped AR combo than hunting rifle/AR. While impressive and somewhat novel to the game (a non-scoped weapon without damage drop-off), the infantry rifle does not look to provide any sort of competitive advantage compared to the other primary rifle options in the game.
It is important to note that these statistics do not provide an adequate explanation of how streamers/competitive players will learn to use the weapon to maximize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. It is possible that the M1 Garand will take over for the SMG as the best weapon to switch to after a shotgun, as many competitive players have shifted away from carrying an SMG altogether.
At the Secret Skirmish, It looked like very few players was picking up the infantry rifle when given the choice of another type of AR. I expect the reload time to be lowered or the clip size to be enlarged to give the gun a better chance at being viable. I understand exactly what Epic was trying to do by putting this gun in the game, but they haven’t given it enough reason to be used over an assault rifle – especially at the competitive level.
Pop-Up Cup Settings added to Default Playlist
One of the biggest adjustments Epic has been toying with over the past month or so has been the idea of giving players back health after they have killed an opponent. This looks to directly combat third partying in both casual and competitive games of Fortnite. After playing around with the exact number of health points that should be added after an elimination, Epic has decided on 50. These health points go to replenish health or shield immediately after you have killed an opponent.
Along with this change, harvest rate has been increased by 40% however a 500 material count has been placed on all materials. This looks to make the late game rotations a lot more difficult for players without movement items like rifts or launch pads. Players also drop 50 of all materials after they are eliminated. These changes show that Epic is trying to sway players away from farming and more into action.
This update contains many changes that directly affect the competitive side of Fortnite. Look for the meta of the game to shift away from hand cannon/RPG to a new combination of weapons in the coming weeks.
Also, the Secret Skirmish was played this past week, including both a solo and duo tournament featuring over $500,000 in prize money. Check back soon for an in-depth analysis of the two tournaments along with an update of our Top 55 Fortnite Rankings.