One of Epic Games' biggest additions a the start of Fortnite's Season 10 was the B.R.U.T.E. mech. The mech is a powerhouse vehicle that requires two players to operate, but can be used in Solos, Duos, or Squads. Since its introduction, the BRUTE has been heavily criticized by players as being too strong. Epic Games even felt it necessary to address concerns, saying that it's evaluating the BRUTE and considering both nerfs and fixes to existing exploits.
The criticism of Fortnite's BRUTE mechs has grown to a point where the question has to be asked: Should Epic vault the BRUTEs? The argument being that even if Epic is able to balance the mechs, even if Epic can fix the exploits, the mechs still alter Fortnite gameplay in such a significant way that removing them is the only meaningful option. Of course, the BRUTE mechs have their defenders as well. They argue that the vehicles offer a unique experience that makes Season 10 stand out.
Vaulting is an extreme response to a broken or non-fun gameplay element. Yet Epic Games has vaulted items liberally in the past. Epic putting weapons into Fortnite's vault became such an interesting idea that Epic Games built a literal vault into the map. The vault has shown up across several Fortnite seasons now, each time in a new and interesting way. It remains both a figurative and literal option for Epic should they decide something in-game no longer belongs.
For now, the BRUTE mech remains in Fortnite. But the decision as to whether it should remain available is growing all the more pressing.
What's the Issue With the BRUTE Mechs?
If we're considering vaulting the BRUTE mechs it's important to understand what they are and what the underlying issue is with them. At the start of every Fortnite match, two BRUTEs spawn from the sky, rocketing in and landing at random points on the map. After landing, the mechs can be driven by two separate players or one player swapping between the two seats. One seat controls where the mech moves, while the other controls the BRUTE's two weapons. These weapons include a rocket launcher and a shotgun, both with infinite ammo.
The most frustrating strength of the BRUTE mech, however, is its armor. The mech has 1000 vehicle health, meaning that any opponent will have to burn through that armor before having to deal with the players inside. To be fair, the "Driver" of the BRUTE is unprotected and can be killed normally and the "Gunner" has a shield that takes much less damage to destroy. Nevertheless, BRUTE users will have added defenses and offensive strength in addition to their normal abilities if they choose to eject.
But perhaps the most pressing issue related to the BRUTE is that it's a bit buggy. One major exploit is well-known, which allows the BRUTE to move extremely fast, and other issues are rumored.
Why Should the BRUTE Be Vaulted?
The reasons why the BRUTE mech should be vaulted are in many ways self-evident. It creates an escalation of the same problems that the now-vaulted Baller vehicle presented. In other words, it empowers the user in a way that gives them an unfair advantage. Only the BRUTE isn't a Baller - it's much, much stronger. The BRUTE provides a player or duo with a 1000-health exoskeleton and weapons that can erase an opponent from short and long-range.
Critics focus on one area in particular in their argument, which is that the BRUTE is anti-competitive. Fortnite is a game where any single player can win a given match, where any style of play can lead to victory, but the introduction of the BRUTE mecha changes that. Players now have two routes. They can collect the BRUTE themselves and have an advantage, or they can play the way they did before. Only now, they have a worse chance of winning a Fortnite match because opponents may have mechs. It makes any given match revolve around the BRUTE.
At this point, it becomes a question of whether the BRUTE could potentially be nerfed and so be viable or if vaulting it is the only option. The problem is that the BRUTE's strengths are inherent to its design. If Epic Games nerfed the BRUTE by either slowing its rockets or lowering its health don't solve that problem. Even if the BRUTE offered just 100 extra health and could only fire a single rocket at a time, it'd be worth using for the advantage and then discarding without penalty. There is no adequate nerf beyond redesigning the BRUTE.
Why Should the BRUTE Mech Stay in Fortnite?
While the criticism of the BRUTE is valid, there's also an argument to be made for it to stay in Fortnite. The crux of this argument is built around the idea that while BRUTEs change the game, they're worth keeping because they're also fun and cool. And that Fortnite should aspire to introduce this kind of content even if it changes things dramatically season-to-season. This argument also posits that the idea that BRUTEs are anti-competitive is just certain players refusing to try new gameplay mechanics and adapt.
Playing Fortnite with BRUTEs is simply a matter of relearning the game instead of complaining to Epic. The truth is that while playing against a BRUTE can be difficult, every player also has the opportunity to get their own BRUTE. BRUTE drops are shown on the mini-map at the start of the game. It's just a matter of perfecting your drop and winning the fight to control the BRUTE. It does change the pace of the game, but that isn't inherently a bad thing.
Even after control of the BRUTEs at the start of a match is decided, players without a BRUTE still have options for counterplay. Ignoring the BRUTEs and hoping that they just go away isn't an effective strategy. Players not in a BRUTE need to approach a game as if they're at a disadvantage, knowing that in order to win they'll have to destroy the mechs. As such, they should target long-range weapons and either position themselves for an ambush or sneak in damage when BRUTEs aren't paying attention.
Fortnite with BRUTEs is a different game than before. It may be worse, but still good and worth keeping if only for a season.
Epic's Decision to Nerf
Ultimately, neither the argument for nor the one against BRUTE mechs may matter. Epic Games may have a plan for giant mechs that extends through Season 10. Epic may know that BRUTEs are busted, but could have new rules about when and how it vaults content. Epic could even think BRUTEs are bad for the game but want to see how things work out through patches for the duration of Season 10. Epic gets the final decision and, as Fortnite players know, that decision can often be random and nonsensical.
That doesn't mean that Fortnite players shouldn't continue to constructively criticize new gameplay features like the BRUTEs. Even Fortnite players that enjoy playing with the mechs likely understand that they have balance issues. And just because Epic may be making decisions independent of player's views doesn't mean that it isn't taking criticism to heart. Today's requests for less BRUTE-type changes could become tomorrow's gameplay design choices at Epic.
Fortnite is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One, and mobile devices.