TL;DR – After years of frustration with this game, the no-build mode finally coalesces the game for me.
Disclosure – This is a Free-to-Play with microtransactions, and I paid for the Battle Pass.
Fortnite Review –
Back in 2017, there was this odd game that exploded onto the video game scene, it was not the first Battle Royale style game on the market, but its free-to-play model and big marketing push made it the example all others wanted to copy. I tried the game when it first came out, and my biggest feeling at the time was that ‘this was not for me’. I just did not have the time in my life to learn how to work the building side of things. However, with the announcement that there would be a build-free mode, I decided to give the game another look and discovered just what people have been talking about for all these years.
So to set the scene, Fortnite is a Third-Person Shooter Battle Royale game. This means that it is a shooter where the perspective is positioned from behind the character, over the shoulder, rather than as if you were peering out of their eyes. As well as this, there is a barrier slowly shrinking the map to a central point forcing all the players together. What this means is at the start of the game, all 100 players jump out of a flying bus landing across the map and have to scavenge weapons and ammo, all trying to be the last one standing while some dude in a banana costume snipes you … banana costumes … raises a fist to the clouds.
Back in 2017, when Fortnite was released, I didn’t have much interest in its weird wave mode/tower defence/zombie hodgepodge. But then we got one of the biggest and quickest pivots in Video Game history as Epic Studios [controversially] turned the game into a free-to-play Battle Royale. There have been several pivotal moments in the Video Games industry in the last ten years, like GTA releasing its online mode, and this shift might have been the most lucrative and impactful for the industry. Well, never one to look an opportunity in the face and not dive into something interesting, I gave it a go back in those early years. Back then, I thought Fortnite was a game with some serviceable shooting mechanics, an engaging visual style, [at the time] a fresh twist on a genre, and an almost impenetrable building system. There was only so much time in the game, and that last point because a sticking point in me progressing any further with the game.
One of the things that you just accept when you get older is that your reflexes are just not going to be as good as they once were and that the young ones with more time on their hands to practice with all the weapons will have the edge over you. That is something you can process and plan for in a game. However, you add that along with a building mechanic that works on the same twitch-deploy level, which meant that even if you made it to the endgame, some opponent could make a skyscraper while you blinked. Look, it was just not fun. So, I dipped out of the game back then, being okay with this one passing me by, like the previous MOBA fad. However, a juggernaut has to be a juggernaut, and much like the weird battles in Eve Online, Fortnite always made its way back into the news cycle.
Since 2017, it feels like nearly every possible pop-culture element has made an appearance. With Superman, Tron, Deadpool, and more all running around with shotguns in some prototype Ready Player One situation. You could not help but be intrigued by these odd pop-culture mash-ups, where members of the DCEU and the MCU coexisted or tried to kill each other in a bizarre world reminiscent of one of those Capcom Vs games. Then there were the performances that blended the medium even more as artists like Travis Scott performed concerts in the game. Which was a fascinating idea when it worked but a frustrating mess when it didn’t … *cough* The Rise of Skywalker *cough*. As well as this, unlike many games that feel the need to remain static, which I understand given the tantrums that studios have to endure every time some patch notes get released. Unlike this, the Fortnite map was constantly changing, for better or worse, but that constant change was interesting.
All of these factors made the game interesting, but they also created a massive barrier for me getting back into the game. With the feeling that too much time had passed and that at this point, there would be too high a mountain of mechanics to climb to get back into the game. I mean, there is now a fishing mini-game as well. The first step in countering this came from supporting some of my friends on their Twitch channels. They had not bounced off the game and would dip their toes back in the game every now and again. This meant that I could get a grasp on most of the mechanics before I jumped back into the game. Or at least have osmosis about the game, like you have to thank the bus driver before jumping.
The second factor was the announcement of a new possible temporary game mode, ‘zero build’, coming to the game. With that announcement and the mechanics I had picked up, it finally gave me the confidence to jump back into the game. At this point, I need to thank the Fortnite Fridays crew [Lis, Snail, Jshie & Syntax] for helping me in those first few matches and letting me weigh the team down while I was learning. And I should probably take this moment to apologise for that one time I accidently drove us into the storm for a long time because I miss-heard where you wanted to go and then abandoned you when the truck ran out of fuel, even if it meant we ended up winning the round.
For me, the zero-build mode improved the game in almost every way. To begin with, the game had to think about how players could traverse the map and plan for it. This meant more ziplines being put in to reach places, small trails leading up to the tops of mountain peaks, and being able to mantle up walls. By increasing the flow of the movement, the game didn’t bog down in places as you stopped to mine resources so you could get to where you wanted to go. The free-flowing movement also allowed for more exciting interactions with players as the terrain became more involved in the minute-by-minute gameplay. The next bonus was that the maps felt less cluttered and, well, less messy. There were none of these ugly half-built structures of wood permeating the countryside.
Getting back into the game in this new mode has allowed me to enjoy all the small parts of the game that I would have been missing otherwise. Such as how the map shifts and changes throughout each season and between seasons. The ruins of one season become the artworks for the next. Then there is a different feel in how playing a Solo Game works to playing a Squad Game. Going in by yourself is a much more methodical experience, as you have Daily, Weekly, and Season goals that you can tick off to get more experience. You only have one life, and when you are gone, well, cool, time to start a new game. While in Squad games, it is a much more fluid situation as your tactics now have to scale up to other people. You need to coordinate guns and ammo, and even death might not be the end if a teammate can Reboot you. All while the game keeps throwing you curve balls like ‘kill Darth Vader’ or ‘hey, here is Naruto’s town’.
In the end, have I enjoyed my time jumping back into Fortnite? Yes, yes I do. I should say that this is tempered with the fact that I would never jump into a team with randoms. You only have to do that once by accident to know that it is a bad idea. Also, it is VERY easy to spend money here as the game shop is constantly updating and V-Bucks are not cheap. However, those issues aside, it has been fun to get back into this game and see the world change around you as a season progresses. To have fun with friends in a match where shenanigans can happen at every turn and the chance of winning it all is just potentially one more game away.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you played Fortnite?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the staff of Fortnite
Game Direction – Donald Mustard
Developer – Epic Games
Publisher – Epic Games