Epic is showing no signs of plans to remove the controversial, mech-like B.R.U.T.E. from , saying the powerful new combat option helps in the studio’s mission “to bring players of all skill levels together to have a fun experience where anyone can win.”
The launch of the B.R.U.T.E.
earlier this month has been one of the biggest changes in the game’s short history, letting two players team up in an armored automaton to hurl a barrage of missiles at relatively tiny, mech-less opponents. Angry players have been flooding online forums and social media with clips showing overpowered mechs destroying other players, claiming the addition is ruining the competitive balance of the game.
Epic has already tweaked the B.R.U.T.E. a bit in response to the complaints, adding a targeting laser to warn otherwise unsuspecting players of an incoming barrage. But in a new update posted yesterday, the Fortnite Team suggested the B.R.U.T.E. has actually been beneficial to their view of how the game should be balanced.
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 philosophy. The mission of 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.
Another part of the mission is to provide spectacle and entertainment when playing . Bringing these moments to the game every week means there is always a new way to enjoy and experience the game.
The B.R.U.T.E. was added at the start of Season X with this mission in mind. Since then, we have seen players who had previously struggled with getting eliminations acquiring more, while the number of eliminations earned by more experienced players remained steady.
In its post, Epic also shared a couple of graphs showing that the B.R.U.T.E. has not completely dominated more traditional gameplay. The mechs average only six or seven of the 99 total eliminations per match in most modes, and only one or two eliminations in the more competitive Arena modes. The latter statistic could be because, as Epic points out, “specifically for Arena we made the change to spawn rate in order to reduce late-game encounters. This is due to a higher number of players surviving to those circles compared to non-Arena modes.”
The anger remains
Statistics aside, these numbers don’t really capture the frustration many players say they feel when facing down a powerful mech-equipped opponent or the disappointment they might feel at no longer having a more traditional mech-free gameplay mode. “Personally the mechs are not so much of a fun experience when your whole squad gets wiped by one and you had the best loot,” writes one characteristic Twitter poster using the #RemoveTheMech hashtag on Twitter (which trended briefly last weekend).
The “anyone can win,” all-skill-levels-welcome ethos Epic is espousing here could also rankle long-time players, who have spent months building up their skills only to see Epic seemingly catering more to “newbies.” Popular pro Tfue epitomized that viewpoint in a recent stream, saying bluntly “I fucking hate everything about these fucking mechs, they can go fuck themselves. If Epic Games is watching my stream, go fuck yourself until you take these out of the game because they don’t fucking do anything positive. They’re all negative. Fuck yourself.”
That kind of backlash is at least a little ironic, since ‘s Battle Royale mode was initially widely seen as a more welcoming and accessible alternative to the more technical gameplay in games like . But it also highlights a split that’s long been developing among ‘s massive player base between highly competitive players solely looking for kills and the (perhaps larger?) community of players more interested in building stuff and goofing around.
In any case, Epic seems content to weather the backlash and stick with the B.R.U.T.E.s for the time being. The company will have an easy opportunity to change course and introduce more new gameplay tweaks with the start of ‘s next season, expected sometime in October.