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Fortnite’s Zero Build mode has new strategies — but the same loot. Why?

Epic Games has been keeping loot the same across all modes

Three Fortnite characters run towards the camera, weapons at the ready, in Epic Games’ trailer for Zero Build mode Image: Epic Games via Fortnite/YouTube

Fortnite is famous for its globally interactive community events, and recently the battle royale game hosted one that placed the destiny of two items in the hands of its players. The two items — simple party balloons and a bubble shield reminiscent of Halo 3 — had been in Fortnite’s vault, but this event allowed players to vote on which one would get unvaulted. In the end, most of the votes went to the balloons, a weapon that some say is perfect for the game’s Build mode, though it’s much less optimal than the shield for Zero Build mode players. This thought, along with complaints from players stating that such votes in the future should be split between the two modes, got me thinking about why Fortnite doesn’t operate that way — or at least not yet.

Fortnite’s Zero Build and Build modes are two very different worlds. Certain weapons and strategies are more prevalent and useful in one than the other. For instance, in Zero Build, the current top-tier loadout according to many is a simple drum shotgun and striker burst rifle backed up with two heals and a movement tool like a jetpack (which is largely seen as useless in Build mode). Meanwhile, on the Build side, it’s all about grabbing a striker pump shotgun, an SMG, two heals, and either a long-range weapon or shockwave grenades.

So, why isn’t there any difference in the loot pool and voting systems of these two differing game types? Instead, Epic Games has kept the game types one-to-one with each other. This means that players who enjoy both modes get the benefit of shared progression, gold bars, quests, and all of that, allowing everyone to hop in and out between the two. But because Zero Build doesn’t have the option to build, there are added tweaks to make up for it, like the overshield. The only item disparity between the two modes concerns the armored walls and launchpad, which are used in tandem with build mechanics.

Furthermore, the current season’s voting round to unvault either the balloons or the bubble shield was the result of a global vote that included both Zero Build and Build players. There’s no breakdown of votes between players who prefer one mode or the other; splitting them up wouldn’t make sense anyway, due to how progression is maintained between modes. The format piles every vote together, allowing players to see the same percentage of votes for each item regardless of which playlist they’re playing.

This is the current system for Fortnite’s loot pools, but I believe that there is a possibility it could change in the future. The two modes’ worlds have quickly grown apart, thanks to the large number of players and the different strats that have emerged in each arena. There’s no telling if they could grow even further, including the weapons and voting systems, later on.

Correction: This article has been amended to clarify the circumstances of Epic Games’ decision to keep loot the same across Fortnite’s Zero Build and Build modes.