A few days ago, the Lever Action Shotgun was added to Fortnite, giving many players their first taste of the new western-inspired shotgun.
This new gun was so well received by the Fortnite playerbase that it was added to competitive playlists ahead of schedule. With these results in mind, it’s worth looking at why the Lever Action Shotgun ended up being such a good fit for Fortnite.
Weapons are a tool in Fortnite
When thinking about weapons in Fortnite, or any game really, it’s best to think of them as a tool. Like all tools, they have specific uses where they excel, and areas where they are not so great.
In Fortnite, there are three main factors to consider when deciding how useful a weapon is: its capacity to eliminate players, how well it can destroy builds, and how effectively it can control space.
The best weapons in Fortnite always do one of these three things well. Sniper rifles are great for controlling space and forcing opponents to approach more carefully.
Explosives, and to some extent SMGs, are excellent for taking down builds and preventing someone from hiding. Shotguns have had the best ability to outright eliminate players. Assault rifles are capable of doing all of that, though not as efficiently as more niche weapons.
This means shotguns are the workhorse gun of Fortnite, they don’t bother trying to be fancy or overly specialized. They are only concerned with trying to eliminate the opposition as quickly as possible.
This makes them really easy to compare and judge, the only thing that matters is how effective they are at scoring eliminations.
Why the Lever Action Shotgun was so easy to incorporate
Prior to the Lever Action Shotgun’s introduction to Fortnite, the state of shotguns was pretty poor. The Tactical Shotgun, a mainstay of the series, had been nerfed from its previous incarnations.
It fires quickly and has a large ammo pool before it needs to be reloaded, but it’s also weak, even up close. It can also take as many as three max-damage hits to bring down opponents.
The Charge Shotgun offers players a longer range and harder hitting blast at the cost of needing to be built up. While some players enjoy this, it’s usually too clunky and unwieldy for most players to easily adopt. Additionally, the added range is rarely useful as shotgun fights tend to get close range very quickly.
This meant that Fortnite had an open niche for a shotgun that could deal high damage up close without requiring a ton of build up to work around. This is exactly what the Lever Action Shotgun is.
The Lever Action Shotgun isn’t just good, it’s balanced
One of the major issues with shotguns in Fortnite is that the good ones, in the hands of a skilled player, can boil fights down to a single shot. When players can get eliminated in one headshot, regardless of their total health, it changes the meta and makes Fortnite much less fun or accessible for new players.
This was the issue with the Pump Action Shotgun. Many players loved playing with it, but being able to score 200 damage headshots meant that a single misplay could spell the end of a fight.
Worse, it meant that fights almost always boiled down to aggressive build strategies. Space control became less important because it didn’t matter if you scored hits on an approaching opponent if they could deal 200 damage in a single shot.
The Lever Action Shotgun manages to be strong without having this meta-warping quality, however. Two key factors prevent it from being too strong, it has a wide spread and low headshot multiplier.
As a result, the Lever Action Shotgun can never one-shot a 200 health opponent. This means players will always have time to react and respond to someone attacking them with one.
However, the Lever Action Shotgun still puts out incredibly high damage for a single shot. This gives players the tool they always needed, something that can hit hard up close and help them end fights quickly.
Now that Fortnite has a strong shotgun again, fights will likely emphasize close range engagements and tactical building again. Though, it won't to the point where players need to worry about losing in a single blast.