Fortnite: Battle Royale’s v9.21 update today was small, but it’s brought back two items that we felt like were no longer in the game.
Shield Potions, both standard and small, will now appear more often from chests while the same is happening to Shotguns on floor loot. Shields and Shotguns were both hard to find after the last update, and both are key items to both casual and competitive Fortnite matches. Players were having such a hard time finding them that sometimes it felt like Epic vaulted them, which has never happened.
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Epic explained in the v9.21 patch notes that “with items being added and removed, we’ve noticed that Shield Potions and Small Shields have been less available in Chests.” For the increase in availability of Shotguns, the company wrote that it listened to the community feedback and “we’ve increased the Shotgun availability from Floor Loot to make finding them in the early phases of the game easier.”
High availability of shield potions is key for Fortnite’s balance since it increases a player’s total health up to double the standard. If only a few players find these potions every match, those who do will have a huge advantage over those who don’t since they’re most likely to survive gunfights. This is a critical lack of balance for competitive play, especially in big events such as the Fortnite World Cup Qualifiers.
Shotguns are less essential than shield potions, but they’re strong in the current Fortnite meta. The logic is the same for them: if only a few players can have them, they’ll have a big advantage in close-range combats against players who don’t.
While the randomness of a battle royale game is all about you having what your opponents don’t, there must be a match-wide balance that makes sure a small group of players isn’t at a huge advantage. A match can be completely different if 30 players instead of 20 can find a Shotgun, or if 60 can find shields instead of 50.
We have yet to see how these changes in item availability will affect Fortnite matches from now on.