Fortnite players have expressed their frustration at the inclusion of the B.R.U.T.E. Mech introduced in Season X, and Epic Games has responded in a way that is sure to further frustrate the community of professional competitors. For the unfamiliar, the Mech can be acquired and piloted by a player to devastating effect and requires little skill to operate.
In a competitive game that only recently saw the conclusion of its first ever World Cup with a prize pool of $30 million, it comes as no surprise that competitors are feeling disrespected. Epic has stated that, “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.”
The blog continues, stating, “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.” The statement certainly feels contradictory following the completion of the World Cup, where all the competitors were of the highest skill levels and worked hard to secure a spot in the finals.
Moreover, what Epic fails to state is that those players acquiring victories with the B.R.U.T.E do so at the expense of other players who are not encased in a literal suit of armor. The explanation is hollow and problematic for the development of the game as an esport in the long term.
Instead, this is all likely part of a larger marketing strategy for Epic towards its casual player base. With the conclusion of the World Cup, awareness of the game is probably at a high point relative to the rest of the year. If newer players are diving into the game for the first time, the B.R.U.T.E. might be a great way to give them a sense of power and victory, which could turn them into long-term consumers within the game who will later refine their skills.
With this in mind, the B.R.U.T.E. should hopefully be vaulted before the next big tournaments roll around. At that point, the game should return to skill-based competition. In the meantime, however, it can feel like a complete waste of time for players who are looking to improve their skills, only to be destroyed by an overpowered mechanic.
Although Epic also provided statistics indicating the B.R.U.T.E. does not often acquire many eliminations per match, that is not the point. It simply feels terrible to play a game well, with strategy and skill, only to lose in an instant. The initial thought of a player on the receiving end of a B.R.U.T.E. is not, and will never be, “Wow, I sure do feel great knowing that my quick destruction made that player feel good!”