Cars could have a dangerous impact on the competitive Fortnite meta
We’ve come a long way since Epic Games’ Lead Systems Designer said, “but we don’t have a need to add vehicles to get around the map because our travel times allow you to get mostly wherever you want to go.” Back then, Epic Games had no intention of adding vehicles to Fortnite.
In the time since, Planes, Driftboards, Golf Carts and much more have been introduced into the game. These different vehicles have had various levels of impact on the core gameplay. Some such as Shopping Carts have been insignificant. Others, like Planes and Ballers, completely changed the way the game was played at a competitive level.
In a few weeks, drivable Cars will make their way into the Fortnite universe. Based on what we know so far, these new vehicles will certainly reshape the competitive meta. The impact Cars will have on the meta depends on a couple of different factors.
Before we dive into the meta shift, let’s discuss what we currently know about these new vehicles.
Everything We Know About Cars
First of all, there will be three categories of cars; small, medium and large. Within these three categories, there will be at least 4 types of cars. Basic Sedan, Sports Car, Pickup Truck and Semi Truck have all been confirmed. Additionally, small cars will have 800 health points (HP), medium 1,000 HP and large will have a max of 1,200 HP.
Cars will run on fuel. Once depleted, the car will become immovable. The fuel usage statistics for each category of car is as follows:
-Small: 0.375/sec (100 max cap, 4min & 45s)
-Med: 0.5/sec (100 max cap, 3min & 30s)
-Large: 0.75/sec (150 max cap, 3min & 30s)
Cars can be refuelled at Gas Stations and via Petrol Jerrycans.
Cars will feature a plethora of brand-new, unique mechanics. Cars will have a handbrake, allowing players to perform tire and brake skids. Players can eject from within a car. Hitting enemy players will launch them like an Impulse Grenade. Running over things in the environment will grant materials, similar to the Brute. Cars will explode when their HP reaches zero. This will cause the car to explode, dealing 800 environmental damage and 50-200 damage to players depending on the proximity to the explosion.
With the car facts out of the way, let’s talk about how these new vehicles might affect the competitive meta. Cars will have a guaranteed presence when it comes to rotations.
Though Chapter 2 - Season 3 is better than the last two seasons, there still really aren’t too many ways to get around. Chapter 1 had Impulse and Shockwave Grenades, Rifts and Rift-To-Go’s, Glider Redeploy, Quadcrashers, Driftboards and much more. Season 3 added Whirlpools, Sharks and the Shockwave Launcher/Glider Gun, but these are still no match to the mobility options of the past.
The mobility provided by Sharks, Boats and swimming will all but disappear as the water levels around the map rise. There’s only one Shockwave Launcher and Glider Gun available per game. These two Mythic items cannot be considered reliable mobility options. Helicopters suffer the same fate. This vehicle is nice to have, but it’s also limited and heavily contested. Finally, Launch Pads are an option. However, players will need RNG on their side to acquire one.
All in all, mobility is just not in a great spot right now. Players that choose to land around the edges of the map leave their fate to the Storm gods. A bad Storm pull can completely ruin a competitor's tournament or Cash Cup. The lack of reliable mobility options to rotate with leaves players outside the circle at a huge disadvantage.
The addition of Cars will change that. Based on what we know, Cars will be extremely prevalent. Epic Games has already removed every non-drivable car and truck from the game in preparation. We can expect to see most of these replaced with the new Cars. with all the different categories and types, there will likely be more Cars around the map than any other vehicle in Fortnite history.
This will do wonders for rotations. Cars will allow full squads to rotate to circle with ease. This readily available movement tool is something the current game is lacking. Also, other movement options leave the user vulnerable. The massive health pools available to cars will make this the safest and quickest option for rotating. Though, it may have other implications that we’ll discuss later.
Vehicle Meta 2.0
Adding drivable Cars risks the return of the vehicle meta that plagued prior Fortnite seasons. Everyone remembers when Ballers and Planes completely took over the competitive Fortnite scene.
If you need a refresher, every time Fortnite releases a new armoured vehicle, it becomes the meta. We saw it with Planes, Ballers and even recently with Helicopters. These vehicles were so powerful upon release, that the entire game revolved around acquiring one.
There have been incidents where players qualified for high-tier Fortnite tournaments without firing a single shot in their qualifying matches. Manoeuvring and hiding in a Baller or Plane all game earned enough placement points to make it worth doing.
One may ask, “why doesn’t anyone shoot the Plane down or destroy the Baller?” The answer is that it just usually isn’t worth it. Ballers had 300 HP and Planes had 800 HP. On top of that, players were essentially invincible while inside. These vehicles would be destroyed and a player would just hop out with full health ready to fight. Imagine dealing 800 damage to a Plane and next thing you know, the pilot is flying down on your head.
The risk was also not worth the reward. Targeting these vehicles puts a bullseye on your back. Shooting a vehicle will attract attention and get you third-partied quickly. With all of this put together, it just isn’t worth it to focus on players in vehicles.
How Will Epic Games Balance Cars?
With this in mind, it does appear that Epic Games is aware of this issue and taking measures to prevent another vehicle meta arising in the future.
With Helicopters, there is no glider redeploy option like there was with Planes. Jumping out without landing first leads to death for those not above water and without Crash Pads. And thankfully the Helicopter does not have turrets attached like the Planes did. This didn’t stop a Helicopter meta from evolving, but at least it was less abusable.
With Cars, the need to refuel may be the mechanic that saves us from an overpowered vehicle meta. Cars will only be able to travel so far before they need to be refuelled. This can only be done at Gas Stations and with the relatively rare Jerrycans. Because of this, Cars will not be able to drive in circles all game, immune to risk. The drivers will need to exit the vehicle and expose themselves during refuelling. And if the car explodes in this time, the players inside and around it will be eliminated. This adds a much-needed risk vs. reward mechanic to using Cars.
Cars should be used for quick, protected rotations. They shouldn’t be an impenetrable fortress that is also capable of damaging and ruining other players with no counterplay.
Will Cars Still Be Overpowered?
Despite all of this, the playerbase is apprehensive. It is hard to trust Epic given their track record with vehicles. The drawbacks and preventive measures sound good, but there is still room for exploitation.
Large Cars will have 1,200 health, with the small ones still hoisting as much as a Plane. That is A LOT of damage Cars can withstand. Even a full squad will have trouble destroying one of these things. These massive health pools provide more than enough time for the Car's occupants to escape to safety and gain an advantageous position.
Even more concerning is players using Cars as a weapon. If a player gets ran over, they will be sent flying. We don’t know yet if this will deal damage, but it will place the victim in trouble nonetheless. If these Cars can smash through builds and damage enemies, they become even more powerful. Picture yourself in an intense fight, and out of nowhere a Car comes and sends you flying to your death. Players around for the Plane meta know this feeling all too well.
In the end, it will be the Fortnite community that decides this meta. If Cars are too dominant out of the gate, the playerbase will abuse them. The Fortnite community is known for its ingenuity and for getting the most out of each item. The Cars will be no different. These new vehicles will be pushed to their limits, and if there is room for exploitation, a meta will evolve. We can only hope that Epic Games has taken the proper precautions. Ideally, Cars will be an exciting new feature; fun to use, but not infuriating to play against like the vehicles of the past.
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Images via Epic Games