Feature Article

Fortnite's Charge SMG Is Secretly Great -- And It Just Got Even Better

The most maligned gun of Season 3 is one of its best.

When Epic added the new Charge SMG to the Fortnite loot pool this season, pretty much everybody reacted the same way: "What the hell is this, and why would I bother with it?" The very sight of the thing, which required players to hold the trigger to charge up a long, impossibly fast burst of bullets, was met with revulsion.

The folks I play with wouldn't even touch the thing, and that seems to still be the prevailing wisdom on Reddit and other places where folks discuss Fortnite amongst themselves. It has its defenders, of course--nothing is ever truly universally disliked--but they're usually drowned out by the haters.

Despite all the rhetoric, I had some success with the thing, getting a few winning kills with it not long after the gun was added to the game in July. But then I stopped using it, some combination of the general disdain and the weirdness of the gun poisoning my mind against it. And I became like everybody else, audibly scoffing every time a Charge SMG popped out of a loot chest.

But no more of that. I recently got back on the Charge SMG train, and I don't want to get off. And though I may feel alone in my enjoyment of this thing, I actually do have some good company on my side: both Loserfruit and Ninja have produced videos where they were pleasantly surprised by the thing.

While I wouldn't be surprised if Epic vaulted this thing at the end of the season because of all the complaints, I hope it keeps it around a little while longer so I can keep enjoying this absolute haymaker of a gun.

Let's get into the technical details for a second. The way the Charge works is that you hold the trigger to build up a burst of fire--the longer you hold it, the more bullets are included in the burst, up to a full clip of 30 shots. It takes just under 2.5 seconds to charge and about 1.5 seconds to fire the burst (that's extremely fast). A quick trigger pull will fire a three-round burst. The quality of the gun does NOT affect the charge speed or rate of fire, though better qualities will reload faster and have improved stability, as with all guns in Fortnite. A blue-quality Charge SMG will kill a fully shielded and overshielded target in 15 shots--half a clip.

And it just got a buff with the 21.40 update--Epic "greatly" reduced its recoil. After a little testing, I feel like that might be an understatement, because it's more like they almost entirely eliminated its vertical recoil. It still comes out in a spray, so not extremely accurate at range, but firing it isn't so much like riding a bull at the rodeo anymore.

Ariana Grande wields the fearsome Charge SMG
Ariana Grande wields the fearsome Charge SMG

I think the hatred for the Charge SMG is mostly a mental block. The gun is different, and it's not immediately obvious what the point of it is because it seems hard to use. Sure, Fortnite has had a Charge Shotgun before, but the two don't feel similar because the shotgun just charges up a single powerful shot instead of a burst of fire that you have to maintain your aim throughout--not the easiest task with a moving target. And frankly, this thing doesn't neatly fit into most playstyles because it's a counterintuitive gun.

But, fortunately for me, it fits perfectly with mine as a controller player who prefers close- and mid-range fights where I do a lot of sliding and climbing on stuff. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a DMR if my life depended on it, so I let my friends draw the enemy's attention with potshots while I sneak around the side or the back. I get up close and unload before people know I'm there. And for that, there is nothing that even remotely matches the Charge SMG's ability to delete people.

Yes, folks can hear the whine of the gun when you're holding the charge, but it's easy to miss it when they're being shot at since there's no accompanying visual ping for those who have the visual audio setting enabled. And, anecdotally, I've faced other players using a Charge so rarely that I'm not sure most players really appreciate its threat. It could be that folks hate it so much that they don't respect it, which leaves a big opening for those who are handy with this thing.

I think there's a little bit of conventional Fortnite wisdom that also gets in the way: that for short-range battles, you should open with a shotgun blast and then swap to an SMG for the quick finish. The Charge SMG isn't great if that's how you want to operate, but I've always done the opposite--empty an SMG clip and then clean up with, ideally, a single blast from the shotgun. I've been shockingly effective using a Charge SMG in that configuration the last few weeks.

I believe that the Charge SMG doesn't have to be doomed to live in ignominy in Fortnite's gun dustbin. I think the rest of y'all can have just as much fun as I've had with this thing. But I'll be honest--if you all want to keep ignoring and underestimating this absolute unit of a weapon, that works just fine for me, too.

But, please, Epic, at least keep it around for next season too. Don't let the haters win.

Phil Owen on Google+

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