Epic Games introduced the Guided Launcher to Fortnite Battle Royale two weeks ago. The impact it’s had on the game since then has been significant, to say the least. After a backlash, Epic nerfed the weapon with their latest update, reducing the speed and manoeuvrability of missiles. But, while the changes are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough.
The Guided Missile is, essentially, a Rocket Launcher that lets you steer the projectile for up to 18 seconds after it’s fired. Being able to control a Guided Missile means you don’t need to have direct line of sight on your opponent in order to hit them. You can dish out damage from around corners or behind hills, and all without opening yourself up to waiting snipers.
The initial problem with Guided Missiles is that they can do a little too much damage, but it goes further than that – they’re also an unparalleled scouting tool. It’s very easy to steer a missile straight into the sky to get a bird’s-eye view of your surroundings. That’s not particularly advantageous in the early game. But when it comes down to the final few players, knowing where your enemies are is an enormous advantage, and the ammo required for a few reconnaissance shots is a small price to pay.
If you’re on the receiving end of a Guided Missile then your options are pretty limited. You can build walls to protect yourself, of course, but that is often a losing battle – a rocket will blow a small structure apart pretty quickly, wasting valuable materials. Their slow movement speed means you /can/ shoot missiles down, but if you reach the point where that’s your best bet for survival, you can be sure that another will be coming straight for you, and will likely be your undoing. Even running away is not really an option, as the increased turning circle of the new missile isn’t likely to limit the impact of its splash damage.
The Guided Missile is a must-have item if you want to contend for a Victory Royale, then. It’s a low-risk and high-reward weapon, which is bad enough, but it’s also multi-purpose. The changes to speed and steering that Epic have made help to take away some of the innate threat from the weapon, but they also need to target its utility.
The most obvious fix, and most likely the easiest to implement, is to make the Guided Missile more expensive. That could be a matter of rarity – making the weapon drop less often or cost more to buy from Vending Machines – but it could also apply to ammo. If a Guided Missile were to use up two rockets rather than just one, not only would players be less likely to use them as speculative scouting tools, they would also be less able to pepper enemy forts until they found a way in. Alternatively, Epic could reduce the amount of time a Rocket is in the air, requiring players to know exactly what they want to hit, rather than firing first and hoping to find a target later.
Another possibility is to make the rockets larger. It’s a change that’s less likely to help you if you’re already a target, but it might stop players hiding themselves away and firing never-ending missiles out of a tiny gap in the side of a house. The issue with that, however, is that making a projectile so large it can’t be fired out of a window would probably make it more comical than even Fortnite’s cartoon visuals can cope with.
The changes rolled out in patch v3.5 could solve many of the issues players have been having with Guided Missiles. As far as I can tell, however, the issue isn’t with the weapon’s accuracy or damage – I’ve long been sceptical of Fortnite’s explosive weapons, but no-one’s calling for the removal of the Rocket or Grenade Launcher. The problem lies within how much more of the battlegrounds you can see when controlling the Guided Missiles. Still, I guess we can enjoy the irony of the problem being related to recon, while Epic seem to have failed to both foresee that and address it when spotted by their players. they’ll remain essential unless Epic target that particular strength.