In the wake of widespread outcry over yesterday’s changes to building, Fortnite developer Epic Games has done a 180 on its decision.
A lot of Fortnite’s success comes from its building mechanic. Apex Legends and PUBG might also strand competitors in an inescapable death arena with tens of other people, but only Fortnite lets players draw feats of absurdist architecture from the ground.
Earlier this week, developer Epic Games nerfed Fortnite’s “turbo building” feature, which allows players to place structures by holding down a button instead of clicking every time they build. Specifically, the developer tweaked turbo building so that there’s more of a delay between automatic builds. Previously, the delay was 0.05 seconds, then it was 0.15. Now, it’s back to 0.05 seconds, per a blog from Epic that comes after a furious 24 hours of rage, hashtags, and protest streams.
In the grand scheme of time as we humans understand it, this time differential doesn’t seem like much at all. However, some players felt the initial change had a severe impact on certain strategies—for example, pulling off “90s,” where players build ramps upward in one direction, then rotate 90 degrees and continue building to gain a positional advantage on an enemy. Popular streamer and Fortnite pro Ali “Myth” Kabbani demonstrated how yesterday’s changes altered in a video and came to the conclusion that turbo building was less efficient (and more likely to make you fall off your structure) than manually spamming clicks.
Turbo 90's vs Clicking 90's
IM CRACKED. pic.twitter.com/3cgUxtsKvJ
— Myth (@TSM_Myth) August 27, 2019
Generally, players thought the new turbo building felt slow and clunky, which impacted both high-level strategies and the overall tactility of the game.
In a post on Fortnite’s website announcing the initial changes, Epic said it did not intend to “dramatically” impact people’s ability to execute 90s or other strategies like “waterfalls,” where players build floors as support pieces while falling down.
Rather, Epic wanted to target strategies that disproportionately favoured people with low ping, such as racing to build walls before another player and continually rebuilding a wall that’s taking damage. Epic at first concluded that it was too easy to spam structures in Fortnite. “We want building to be a bit more deliberate,” the company wrote.
This did not placate players, who started the popular #RevertTurboBuilding hashtag on Twitter. Much of the response was full-on ire, but even relatively understanding players weren’t sure changing turbo building was Epic’s best bet.
“It’s good Epic is finally trying to address the ping issue in Fortnite, but this does not seem like the correct fix,” said Team Liquid’s Jake “Poach” Brumleve on Twitter. “Revert and try something else.”
Many players threatened to swap over to Minecraft until Epic reverted the change. This included Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who made good on his threat — which I imagine Mixer owner and Minecraft publisher Microsoft didn’t mind — today. As of writing, he was slowly but surely learning the ropes of the game whose popularity Fortnite’s building mechanics probably wouldn’t exist without.
In a previous stream, Blevins went so far as to suggest that all popular Fortnite streamers join together in a widespread protest. “It’d be an interesting test,” he said. “We’d have to legitimately form a union, in a way... Realistically, if we all banded together — every single top Fortnite streamer, anyone who gets 2,000 viewers or more, competitive gets in a group DM and says, ‘We’re not gonna play this game for two weeks. We’re not gonna play in the Cash Cups. We’re not gonna try and compete. Anything.’”
Popular streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys, largely a Fortnite streamer when she isn’t out and about or chatting with fans, has also been spending her video game time with Minecraft lately. “Crazy how everyone expected Fortnite to fix their game, but instead they did the opposite,” she said on Twitter yesterday. “Back to Minecraft we go.”
Fortnite has had a rough handful of weeks, with a disappointing season 10 exemplified by controversial mechs that players felt were far too powerful. Epic nerfed mechs last week, but now, less than a week later, the community’s still-smoking anger fires were re-stoked.
It is, on one hand, admirable that the company is so willing to regularly make risky changes to its cash cow, but streamers who absolutely benefit from this constant novelty in the long run are regularly outraged by it in the short term.
Epic listened to players’ reactions faster with turbo building than it did with the mech, but it seems like some of Fortnite’s biggest names are getting tired of the rollercoaster and looking for calmer scenes. Minecraft is the big alternative, but Fortnite regulars like Ben “DrLupo” Lupo and Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar have also dabbled in Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft in recent days.
Now Epic has reverted the changes, which should abate some of the outrage. However, that doesn’t mean it’s done trying to alleviate the ping problem. “Now when a structure is destroyed, there will be a delay of 0.15 seconds before another structure can be placed in the same location,” the company wrote.
“If two or more players attempt to build a structure in the same location at the same time right after a piece has been destroyed, a random roll will now determine which player’s structure is placed. With this, we aim to reduce the impact that ping has on ‘taking a wall’ as well as mitigate situations where spamming walls in the same location prevents all incoming damage to the defender.”
Will players and streamers be on board with this new, more conservative approach? Time will tell. As for Minecraft, it recently added bees. People have already modded them to be rideable. It’s preposterously chill. Come to think of it, maybe a relaxing Minecraft vacation was exactly what all these irate, stressed out Fortnite streamers needed all along.