Epic’s newest vehicle - introduced to replace planes - may have caused more problems than they solved.
Update: The ballers have been temporarily disabled due to fall damage glitches but will be added back as soon as the problems are fixed.
In the most-recent 8.10 update, Epic added “The Baller.” This vehicle is unlike anything that has been added to Fortnite and was unanimously loved by the community upon release. The ball allows you to grapple onto any structure (player-built or not) and pull yourself towards it. It is incredibly fun to use, as you can spiderman yourself across the map while inside (and protected from damage).
While the baller is insanely fun for the casual player, it has posed problems for competitive play. Since the ball protects from damage, players will grapple in a tree and wait out chunks of the game. If they have a viable loadout and full materials, then why not just wait till endgame?
This strategy is not ideal for viewers, as no wanted to watch Myth sit in his 1-by-1 in season 3, and no one wants to watch him hang from a tree in a ball now. Fortnite has the best mechanics of any video game right now (including the ball), but needs to find a way to create a more interesting competitive playlist, from start to finish. This problem requires a bigger solution than merely fixing the hamster ball, but that is another article for another day.
Ballers are not just used to wait until endgame starts, they are used throughout the endgame as well. In the most recent Scallywag Cup, I would estimate that 30-60% of players used a baller at some point during the moving circles. Since ballers have 300 health points, no one is willing to take the time to shoot at them as the best case scenario is they break the baller and do no damage to the player inside. This results in half of the lobby playing and the other half rolling and grappling around the final circles. This disparity among players (ones with ballers and ones without) has resulted in lots of complaining from streamers and competitive players.
While Epic may just accept that the baller is unpopular with streamers and remove it - as they did for the plane, I propose a better solution. I believe that the baller should stay in the game, as it is fun to watch and fun to play with. Epic instead should find a way to balance the baller, keeping the game more exciting but also fair.
I have thought of a few ways to fix this problem. Here they are:
1. Fewer Ballers
An easy and uninteresting fix, Epic could limit the number of ballers that spawn at the start of the match. This would help reduce the number of ballers in an endgame, but would not necessarily stop players from waiting in trees or using them endlessly to stay alive in an endgame. This might be part of the solution, but Epic needs to do more.
2. Throwables Insta-destroy Ballers
This would be an exciting addition to the dynamic of Fortnite. If players were able to destroy a ball with a single stink bomb, clinger, or dynamite, then they would be easily able to destroy them during endgame. This dynamic would also make throwables more important, an idea that many streamers have brought up in the past. Tfue even said on stream a few weeks back that throwables should have a unique spot in your inventory, similar to how traps do.
Fortnite’s throwables are more creative than any other game but are underused since they take the spot of a weapon or healing item in your inventory. If throwables destroyed ballers instantly, they would be more used and would help reduce the number of ballers in endgame. Players in ballers often group together during endgame to make it harder to target individual players. With this proposed rule change, a well-placed stink bomb or dynamite would have the ability to take out all players in a clump and would effectively spread them out as a result.
3. Driver Eliminated if Baller Explodes While Inside
This is the most extreme solution I came up with. It also happens to make the most sense. While this change would require Epic to increase the health of a baller to around 500, it would solve both issues introduced earlier; players grappling to trees and waiting for endgame and too many players using the baller during endgame.
If ballers were to eliminate the driver when broken, it would incentivize players to attempt to destroy them and earn an elimination. This incentive would also motivate players to search for players grappling in trees, as a single heavy snipe would send them back to the lobby. This potential risk would defer players from remaining still in their ballers, but would not stop them from using the balls to rotate or take high-ground, both of which are productive and add to the overall experience for the viewer and for grounded players.
This motivation to eliminate players in ballers would completely change the mindset of ballers during endgame. Players in ballers would still be able to grapple like crazy and break grounded players walls, but they would have to watch their health and positioning, as they would be forced to exit their balls and actually engage with their opponents if their baller were about to explode. This change would not render the ball obsolete, but would instead make using a ball in endgame require much more skill and attention to detail.
I am not sure how Epic plans to fix the problem the baller poses for competitive play. However, I can say with reasonable certainty that the baller is the most exciting vehicle to use and watch yet and Epic should find a way to make them more balanced rather than removing them altogether.
Thanks for reading! Make sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest esports news. Also, make sure to check out the most recent iteration of my Fortnite Power Rankings! I am currently reworking the algorithm to make the list more accurate and will soon be adding the results from the Scallywag Cup once they are fully released.