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Fortnite’s new ranked mode is great, unless you’re a Zero Build fan

After what feels like years of players asking for a ranked mode in Fortnite, Epic AGmes finally delivered. Ranked play is now available in the battle royale game, but there is currently one issue putting a dark cloud over what should be an exciting update — especially if you happen to be a Zero Build mode player.

Fortnite Ranked Launches for Battle Royale and Zero Build!

The issue is that Zero Build fans are only allowed to play ranked mode in the duos playlist. That means there’s no option to play alone, with a trio, or a squad of four. That’s creating some problems that go beyond players getting a lack of choice to which they’re typically accustomed.

Like any game, ranked mode tracks progress throughout matches in Fortnite. Players rank up and down the leaderboard, constantly competing against others across the globe. While the leaderboards for the game are split between Zero Build and the build-inclusive Battle Royale modes, they aren’t split between the choice to play solos, duos, trios, or squad playlists. Not that it matters if you’re playing Zero Build.

Zero choice

Zero Build mode sees the removal of Fortnite‘s build mechanic, which is what originally set the battle royale game apart from titles like PUBG. It’s been a popular mode since its launch, expanding the shooter’s audience. However, the mode isn’t ideally looped into the game’s new Ranked mode as matches are limited to two-player teams only.

Fortnite ranking chart
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s possible that this is a test to see if the extra server space for the additional solo, trios, and squads playlists is worth it, as Build Mode has typically always been more popular than its younger sibling. It makes sense on paper, but it feels self-sabotaging in practice.

It creates a lack of choice that Fortnite players aren’t used, one that could stand to drive newer players who were brought in by Zero Build away. Being paired with a random partner in this game usually spells trouble when it comes to communication and game planning, which can be disastrous in a mode where matches are more high-stakes. For those who only play alone, there’s no choice in the matter, and for others, players will get left out.

That does seem to be having an impact on the player base already. Live concurrent player counts within Fortnite show a major gulf between ranked play. At the time of writing, ranked battle royale mode has 304,000 players, while Zero Build has around 83,000. With less options available for teams of different sizes, Zero Build is currently operating more as a niche mode.

What worries me most is the unavoidable imbalance created by the current implementation.  Fortnite is one of the most competitive games on the planet — and not everyone who plays is on the same skill level. The shooter’s audience ranges from high-level content creators to young children goofing around. Competitive players who might want to jump into a Zero Build ranked match are rolling the dice when trying to match up with a partner currently. They’ll find themselves at a major disadvantage if they’re not matched up with someone on their level.

Fortnite character grinding on rail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Imagine if Lebron James was partnered up with a random basketball team of high school players against any NBA team. Those kinds of impossible odds are going to be the norm for Fortnite players that typically play solos, but want to get a piece of the ranked pie.

Fortnite is a game that is known for giving players tons of choices in how they want to play. Whether it’s playlists, playstyle, or player numbers, it’s not usual for the game to limit players so much, especially after the big Zero Build addition.

I’m hoping this won’t last long. Epic is known for player-pleasing updates, and I imagine that will be the case for the new Zero Build ranked update in the future. If not, I hope you can find a good partner.

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DeAngelo Epps
De'Angelo Epps is a gaming writer passionate about the culture, communities, and industry surrounding gaming. His work ranges…
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