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Fortnite: Exploring The Meta - Esportsranks
Fortnite: Exploring The Meta


Fortnite recently celebrated its one year birthday. In that time the game blew up to become the biggest in the world. 125 million unique players and counting. This success hasn’t been without its problems though, most notably within the competitive scene. The question has been how exactly do you make a Battle Royale game fair and esports ready? Epic has been striving for the answers with at times, drastic changes of the Fortnite meta.

As the Fortnite Competitive scene matures and we thought it was time to explore the Fornite meta. Why it is, what it is, and where it might go from here.

History of the Meta

It feels so long ago but there was a time in Fortnite’s history where not everyone built structures as detailed as anything by Michalenago and as quickly as a ghost town in China. It was a simple time. A time of natural cover because who needs to build? 1×1 and ramping were god tier plays and bushes were a valid way to see yourself into the end game. Not like now where they are a 3d punchline, with the set up being “Where is the last guy?”

The meta has gradually changed throughout the year since launch so to understand where it is now we must, of course, look back. So let’s look at the history of the meta, with examples by some of the best players in the game.

Double Pump Meta

Fortnite Double Barrell.

For many, the double barrel is a pale imitation of the double pump meta.

As Fortnite blew up one gun quickly cemented itself as the best in the game and not only that it was one of the most common. It was, of course, the pump shotgun. Savvy players quickly realised you could skip the reload animation by changing to a second shotgun and all hell broke loose. These monsters could hit 250 on a headshot and before you knew it people were running load out’s that consisted of nothing about the gun.

Building was different back then too with wood having the strongest starting HP and it much easier to collect than it is now. This meant getting as close and as quickly as possible to the enemy was the go strat. Build battles would ensue as both players blocked paths and attempted to gain high ground looking for that one or two devastating hits with the shotty.  This meta spread fast popularized by TSM Daequan. This guy would tear through entire lobbies with grey pumps screaming “COME HERE BOI!” Soon everyone was at it and it grew frustrating for those unwilling or unable to learn the technique of quickly switching your gun.

Cries of “OP” were heard throughout the Fortnite community. Epic attempted a number of things to curb the double pump meta. Some that are still in effect today. Shotguns were given reduced damage against structures, and then against players including a reduction in the headshot multiplier. The top damage of a green pump(now blue) went from 250-195. No longer with the capacity to one shot, players began changing it up. Epic had other ideas and after toying with a number of ways to slow down the changing of weapons without success, they decided to hardcode delay when changing any shotgun to another. That’s what the little timer is when you change back to a shotgun you just shot with is. It’s not pretty but with that the Double Pump meta was dead.

A man, his shotguns, and his wood were the first meta of the game and in fairness, it was op af. For anyone there, this was the start of a love affair with the game and it’s stilled pined after to this day and it might just be coming back… after the recent SMG and drum gun additions the forced delay in changing shotguns seems redundant and its been rumoured that it will be taken out. As Daequan would say, “COME HERE BOI!”

C4 + Explode Meta

Fortnite Meta Explodes

The changes to explodes have been some of the more controversial.

The meta of the game began shifting as Fortnite became the undisputed number one game in the world. As players began clamoring to see and participate in competitive matches Epic began testing how these would work in reality. It started with giving a small amount of custom match lobby keys to pro European players and the problems this threw up were numerous.

The servers couldn’t handle the increased strain from the number of players alive and crucially the amount of building they did, especially in the final circles.

This prompted Epic to shake up the meta. The materials across the world were reduced, and explodes went insane. Two C4 could bring down Trump tower in Titled Towers, and Grenade launchers became like Katyusha’s. This meant that players were loath to get into build battles as it didn’t take much to bring the structures down and you falling to your death.

This was a frustrating time for veteran players – “When spend months learning to build properly when you can bring it down with one C4?” Epic’s meddling was seen as an attempt to lower the skill gap when in fact it was an attempt to make a game, that was never supposed to be game, esports ready.

The worst was yet to come.

Watch Dakotaz terrorizing players with the c4.

SMG Spam Meta

Fortnite Drum gun

The 50 round drum gun made Fortnite unplayable for many.

Epic was struggling to find a way to get people to stop building. The next waft of changes was a nadir in the meta of the game. Through a number of patches, Epic increased the amount and viability of the SMG class. First, the tactical SMG was buffed and then removed, then the MP-5 was added and finally the P90. Both of these were vast improvements from the SMG’s of the past, with bigger clips and increased ranges. They also added a Drum gun in the assault rifle class, a gun which had a 50 round mag and could tear down any structure faster than you could put one up. It instantly became the best gun in the game.

This coupled with a material’s health nerf gave rise to what many considered the spam meta. Building was a death trap, a needless distraction from the guy who had his gun out and could lazer you from across the map. So powerful were the SMG’s that many ditched the shotguns. The MP5 silenced had such range, as to work effectively as an assault rifle.

These changes marked a huge turning point for the community. Where before Epic had done well to relay information about why and what they were changing this was the first time that people questioned Epic’s ambitions for the game.

“Why do they want to destroy what made the game so great?” was the cry on the forums and no one quite knew the answer.

You can watch the community collectively freak out here.

Where We Are At Now


Fortnite Meta Movement

Epic has added an increasing number of ways to get around the map.

As the game has progressed movement has been experimented with in a number of ways. From the first version of the jump pad to hoprocks, Epic has given players a variety of options to get around the map. These mechanics don’t just help us get around the map faster but also give players creative ways to reposition during fights and push enemies.

A number of things have been added and not all have been kept. Gone are the OP Jetpacks and Hoprocks. Currently, there are launchpads, jump pads, rifts and the vehicles.

Launchpads and jump pads are vital items and mastery of these is a necessity for top-level play. In the end game, they can be used to reposition quickly in relation to the storm and their ability to get you high above your opponent is unmatched. For an example of this in action check here.

Jump pads are also great during a build fight to quickly retake high ground and after the fight when you can use them to come off a high build, whilst also taking no fall damage.

Otherwise, items like the rifts and ATV’s act to reduce the size of the map making it viable to land on the outskirts and fight your way in.

Next week’s patch will contain a one use rift. So expect this to change the way players approach the late game.


Fortnite Heal

The campfire is stackable and don’t take up a weapon slot.

It’s hard to imagine now but there was a time there was simply 3 healing items. Medkits which took you HP to 100, Bandages which could be used to heal up to 75hp and Pot shields which would give you 50 shield.

Since then Epic have added mini’s, slurp juice, campfires and the “pickable” items like apples and mushrooms which give you 5hp in either health or shield. Depending on how you approach the game people will always take one form of heal and some will drop an explodes or sniper weapon for a 2nd healing item.

Mini’s are arguably the best form of heals – stackable to 10 and giving you 25 armour up to 50. This means they you can carry 250hp of armour which is the highest of any the heals.

Before the buff to slurps, people would consider carrying mini’s, full pots, chug jug, med kit, slurp, bandages in that order. But the recent patch has meant slurps will now heal 75hp in both HP and armour where previously they only healed 50hp! You can stack two giving you 150hp that will top up both your health bars. We are seeing more and more players taking this as a first choice depending on the situation.


Fortnite Materials

Materials have had drastic changes recently.

The materials are an aspect of the game that Epic can’t stop meddling with. An attempt to keep the turtling to a minimum has meant materials got their most drastic change in the last two patches.

If you don’t know, each material has a starting HP and also a build rate to a maximum HP. Previously wood had the highest starting HP, the fastest build time but the lowest maximum HP. Easily farmable, this meant it was great for pushing enemies and engaging in build fights. Brick had the 2nd highest starting HP, the 2nd fastest build time and just behind metal in the maximum HP. This made brick great for a sturdy base when you were going to camp out in the final circles.

Metal, on the other hand, had the lowest starting, slowest building but the highest maximum HP. It was hard to farm a lot of it and so was basically redundant. Noone stayed in their bases long enough and with the increase in splode damage, the high maximum HP didn’t bestow any advantage.

So Epic changed everything. It came in the SMG Spam meta just 4 weeks ago. The starting HP of all materials was reduced. Wood became like paper and pushing any enemy became a dangerous proposition, one blast of an SMG would have you landing square on your face. Thankfully Epic heard the community and increased the starting HP of all the mats but take note as the effectiveness of the materials has essentially swapped.


Wood – Has the lowest starting HP. Effective for getting around the map. And pushing enemies you know aren’t that good.

Brick – 2nd highest starting HP. Good in build fights as it will withstand and SMG or drumgun bullets.

Metal – Highest starting HP. Long-term bases and turtling are best done with metal. Can withstand some explodes. Hard to farm a lot of so try and use it sparingly.

These changes make building fights viable again, but nowhere near the preseason 5 meta. So pick your fights carefully.

A Rebalancing

Fortnite v.5 Barrett

The newest addition to the game – The .50cal Barrett.

The 2nd patch of season 5 brought changes and a couple of rollbacks to make building viable again. And many consider the current meta to be an in fairly good place.

SMG and splodes were given nerfs. The 50 round magazine of the P90 and the Drum were reduced to 40. The range of all the SMG was nerfed making traditional assault rifles viable again. This alongside the material starting HP buff meant build fights came back. We are seeing a lot of players land in the quieter areas in an attempt to get as close to full mats as possible.

Splodes are in a better place after the C4 Nerf. Clingers have found their place in the meta. Throw a couple of these on a turtled enemy while your teammate shoots their wall and they will blow up. Instantly killing the occupants. It seems a little OP at the moment and the pro players are talking out about it so this could easily change in the future. You can currently stack 9 of these so like the C4 you can expect to see these capped at 6 soon

For a look at their potential in the endgame check Poach and 72 – Two of the best players lament their very existence here.

The new .50 Barret sniper was recently added with the ability to take down any wall with one bullet. It has its uses. A well-oiled team can use this to gain an opening to inflict some damages. However, the long reload time(3s) might put off the top tier players.

Fortnite Terminology:

1×1 or One by Ones – A structure made of any material that is a cube. one long and one wide, usually with stairs inside. The first thing you learn to build and infinity useful. Cost’s 50 mats.

3rd Partying – Jumping into an already established fight between two opponents. Often when they might be weak or healing.

Barrel Stuffing – An old COD term that referred to no-scoping someone from a close distance in Fortnite can mean spamming someone’s structures with an SMG/Drum gun until your inside and killing your opponent.

Build fight – Unique to Fortnite in many ways, a build fight is when opponents run into each other and find themselves trying to attain high ground on the other. A build fight ensues often leading to a huge tower in the sky.

Damage tick – The damage taken by the storm. You will often hear it’s “1 tick” or “2 tick,” “3 tick” and so on. This is damage per second. The smaller the circle the higher the tick in the late game this can be as high as 10.

Heal Off – When “turtling” in the end game rather than fight the opposition, players would often find themselves dying to the storm and attempting to outheal their opponent.

Pencil pusher – Someone who over-relies on building and is always in “building” mode.

Pub Scrims – A public scrimmage. Usually arranged on a discord channel, players queue at the same time to get into the same lobby. The overall skill level in these lobbies will be higher than the average.

Pro Scrims – Similar to pub scrims but usually harder to access. High-level pro’s and streamers have access to these discords. The highest level of competitive play outside the official sanctioned Epic tournaments. Has got a lot of attention recently as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has been screaming hard.

Ramping – When pushing an opponent most players will ramp in an attempt to get high ground. Ramping has progressed for a singular stair piece to 2,3 or even 4 mat pushes. The more mats used the harder it is to bring down and the greater the chance of success. Two players ramping each other often results in a build fight.

Rotation – Another term for movement around the map. You will often hear of “good” rotations and “bad” rotations. What this means can change with the point scoring system. For example, if the aim of the game was to kill as many people as possible a good rotation would be moving into areas where opponents are.

The low game – A counter to the build fight meta. This is a player comfortable with conceding the high ground and not building high. Someone playing this way will rely on his superior aim and destroying a player’s build to win the fight.

Turtle – This can refer to both the act of turtling and the meta of the game. Turtling is when you use the build mechanic to create an impenetrable fortress often when under attack. The “turtle” meta can refer to the end game in competitive play when everyone builds to stay alive.

What do you think was the best meta in Fortnite’s history? Is it in a good place now? Let us know in the comment section below!

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