“Fortnite Battle Royale” has ridden the battle royale trend started by “H1Z1” and “PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS” (PUBG) to the forefront of mainstream gaming popularity. The genre is generally defined by players spawning down into a wide open world to explore, loot and secure kills to position themselves as the last player standing. In “Fortnite Battle Royale” this occurs all while a deadly storm slowly encloses the map and pushes players together. How it managed to race to the top alongside PUBG in such a short span of time is unclear, but some factors are apparent; unlike its alternatives, it provided a free way to enjoy the blossoming battle royale genre while also being less graphically intensive and well optimized even for systems with less processing and graphical power.
That’s not to mention frequent gameplay updates from the development team. New items and mechanics are introduced on an almost weekly basis, and they generally spice up the game in new and interesting ways, such as a grenade that makes its victims dance uncontrollably or a launch pad which allows players to redeploy their glider after they’ve already landed. Though the team generally trickles in items little by little, the constant updates keep the game fresh and interesting.
The game’s building mechanic is also a highlight. Players are able to harvest four different materials- wood, stone, brick and metal -around the world that all have different properties, and use those materials to construct walls, slopes and other structures to fortify and settle down for a given period of time. Players can also loot traps to secure their bases and kill other unsuspecting players. This lends a bigger sense of creativity into how players can approach the game and can keep match after match from getting stale. Bored of the run-and-gun gameplay? Loot some decent weapons, find an optimal location and build an impenetrable fortress to take on the other players.
In general “Fortnite” boasts a pretty substantial level of polish, maybe even that of a Triple-A title. It controls well, its art style is appealing, there’s multiple options depending on if one is playing solo, in a pair or as a group, the map (which was recently updated) is well-designed and the sparse microtransactions that exist don’t affect gameplay or give players any advantages.
But while the game does a lot right, there’s still room for improvement. Weapon and item balancing is of course difficult, and the game struggles from having specific subsets of weapons (snipers) dominating others that tend to be almost dead drops (submachine guns). Yet seeing as snipers generally have a high learning curve and are rarer drops, this can be seen as a justified method to reward skill.
Another issue is player density: some games can be a complete drag, with little to no interaction with other players as one scours the map looting, while others can be unrelentingly chaotic. That’s just the nature of the genre, so it can’t be fully docked for that, but there are some mechanics that can help ease the issue, such as including more ways to traverse the huge map, like vehicles (which already exist in the game but are not usable).
“Fortnite Battle Royale” is a fun time overall. It’s no masterpiece of the industry, but it’s a great game to pop on with some friends and play a couple matches of (though that can spiral out of control fast). And really, what more does a game need to be?
- Well-optimized and relatively bug-free
- Building mechanics are unique and intuitive
- High level of polish
- Fair share of balance issues
- Level of fun can vary game to game
Photo courtesy of Epic Games