Fortnite added a big new feature and pro players won’t have much opportunity to adjust to it.
The third update to version 9.30 has arrived and though the list of changes is short, it includes the devastating new Air Strike weapon. The addition of a new weapon may not be surprising, but the fact it comes just two weeks ahead of the Fortnite World Cup raises an eyebrow.
The Air Strike functions largely as one would expect. Players find a glowing red grenade which they throw at the area they are hoping to clear out. Once it lands, a missile launched from outside the map flies overhead and explodes, raining down 20 bombs randomly in the area around the grenade.
These bombs do 75 damage per hit to players and 200 damage to structures. This makes them an effective way of flushing out camping players and abruptly ending any high-flying building battles between players.
The Air Strike could deliver some serious changes to the Fortnite esports meta. The Fortnite World Cup qualifiers largely revolved around slow-paced, methodical build editing. Players would quickly move between defensible locations and largely avoid conflict until the play zone was narrowed considerably. This made for slow-paced games which many viewers panned as boring.
That isn’t unfair given the prolonged stretches that had minimal action and changes were expected, but not until after the Fortnite World Cup.
The upcoming tournament has dominated the Fortnite esports scene for months now, with pro players investing all their time and effort into qualifying and earning a slice of the $30 million prize pool.
It seemed as though the qualifier meta would endure into the World Cup but instead, players have just two weeks to adjust to an item that is specifically designed to counter all of the established defensive strategies.
Response from pro Fortnite players has been mixed, with many shrugging their shoulders and others cracking wise about it. That said, precedent suggests that players will soon find themselves ranting about Air Strikes on Twitter.
Outside the addition of Air Strikes, new tools were added for Creative mode and a new batch of items and missions were added to Save the World. The full patch notes can be found on the official Fortnite website.