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Epic launched season 10 of Fortnite earlier this month, adding the controversial B.R.U.T.E. mech suits. These mech suits are pretty powerful and are able to make quick work of players and structures alike as well as traverse the map quite easily with a super jump. Unfortunately, this has sparked backlash among the more competitive player base. Epic stands behind their decision for the mechs' inclusion, however.
"We’ve heard the frequent discussions (#RemoveTheMech) about the B.R.U.T.E., and decided this would be a good opportunity to explain the Fortnite philosophy. The mission of Fortnite is to bring players of all skill levels together to have a fun experience where anyone can win. For example - everyone having a shot at that first elimination or Victory Royale moment and the satisfying feeling that comes with it. Right now, we know there are players out there who have never had that opportunity."
To temper the fury of gamers, Epic reduced the frequency of the mechs for competitive games and claims that their inclusion has helped struggling players pick up more eliminations. The graphs below show the average eliminations by the mechs for different game modes. The competitive Arena modes have the least amount of kills.
According to Epic, players who typically struggled to get kills have been able to succeed using the B.R.U.T.E. mechs. More experienced players have kept the same amount kills which seemingly vilifies Epic. Of course this is the Internet and people still aren't satisfied with Epic's explanation. A few professional Fortnite players expressed their displeasure on Twitter:
One person losing a game by of getting shot by B.R.U.T.E. missiles is too many.— Ballatw (@Ballatw) August 15, 2019
Dying to it is one of the least FUN things I can think of. Ever. In gaming. It is the opposite of "fun" for ALL players.
It is not a good spectacle. It is not entertaining watching people get mad.
HORRIBLE GRAPH.— FNATIC MOTOR (@FNATIC_MOTOR) August 15, 2019
Why don't you show us the % builds broken// Material wasted // Damage dealt to players when used per BRUTE?
You don’t get it, your game is not casual anymore and never will be.— LG Nicks (@Nicks) August 15, 2019
That’s why you have modes like Team Rumble for the inexperienced players to practice and get better.
You don’t just throw a overpowered robot into the game hoping bad players will get good. #removethemech
Epic is in a bit of a bind here. Fortnite currently boasts over 250 million players whose skills range considerably across the player base. The irony is that while many of the more competitive players are angry at the inclusion of an overpowered mech for less skilled players, the very nature of Fortnite was to be a more casual alternative to more technical battle royale shooters like PUBG. However, Epic has to strike a delicate balance between competitive and casual fans of Fortnite while still making the game attractive to new players (and bring revenue).
That said, as Epic positions Fortnite as a competitive esport that can pay out millions of dollars to a single winner, the company will have to find ways to balance high-level, competitive play. While Epic is reducing the drop rate of the mech suits in competitive play, that doesn't mean that official tournaments won't have them.
What's interesting here is the difference in response compared to the ill-fated Infinity Blade controversy last year. Epic removed the Infinity Blade, a homage to their popular iOS game, because it quite literally toppled the building fundamentals of Fortnite, easily destroying player structures. Not only are the B.R.U.T.E. mechs capable of the same type of destruction, the addition of ranged weaponry like shotguns and missile launchers make killing it a tough proposition.
In fairness, gamer rage can't overcome raw data. If Epic's data is telling them that newer players are succeeding because of the mechs while experienced players are still as successful as before, then Epic doesn't necessarily have a reason to take out the mechs completely. While an argument could be made that newer players may use the mechs as a crutch and never improve in skill, Epic has to make sure its game appeals to a wide audience, many of whom just want to hop on and goof off with their friends instead of simply getting kills.