Fortnite is a perfect example of a game hopping on the bandwagon of what is most popular at the time.
You all know the immensely popular Battle Royale game, PLAYERUNKOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, the game that started the Battle Royale revolution that’s been going on for the past year. In my mind, the developers of Fortnite saw that and said, “hey, we can do that too!”.
What is Fortnite?
Fortnite started out as a zombie survival game, featuring third-person shooter combat and building mechanics, the developers, Epic, said that the game is like a cross between Left 4 Dead and Minecraft. You and up to three of your friends collect resources and build defenses on randomly generated maps to survive the zombie hoard and oncoming storm. Personally, I’ve never bothered to play that part of the game, mainly because it didn’t end up being that popular, and also it costs money.
The Battle Royale part of the game is free to play and features one map that players drop onto, and while keeping the core combat and building mechanics of the survival mode, players must be the last one standing as the storm pushes players closer to a randomly picked point on the map.
The actual game
The movement is fine, the shooting is fine, despite being exclusively in third person the game is quite enjoyable to control, despite until recently the lack of any sprint function. But beyond that, let me say this, the Battle Royale genre is fundamentally very limited. There’s only so much you can do with this concept, which makes sense why Fortnite was able to gain such a large player base with what they had. Since they didn’t start out making this game mode, they basically took what they had from their current game and translated it into a multiplayer competition.
I keep harping on the fact that Fortnite wasn’t initially a Battle Royale game, and there’s good reason for that. It’s because the mechanics that they put into the BR part of the game feel kind of shoe-horned in, and a lot of the time kind of unnecessary. Every time you get into a Battle Royale match you have that initial scramble to find a gun and some ammo, maybe a shield potion or two or some armor, and then the game sort of stagnates. You have a certain amount of time until the radius shrinks and forces you into a smaller area, so either you’re really close or already in that area, or you have to keep moving until you are in the area. When you are in the area, there’s not much to do other than to keep scavenging for weapons and ammo and try to work your way up the weapon tiers, hoping you don’t encounter someone with better weapons and aim than you.
But what about the building?
That’s the part of Fortnite that separates it from the other BR games out there, and it’s the part of the game that I just really don’t like. Yes, the building mechanics are cool when you can build ramps to get up to somewhere quickly, but beyond that building is just a chore and really inconvenient when you encounter other players. Often when I try to shoot a guy, they switch over to building mode and build a line of walls so the bullets don’t hit them. Then you build a wall when they peek out from theirs and you both just end up running away to fight another fight. Alternatively, you could shoot the walls away, but you’d just be wasting bullets and time as the other guy keeps building walls and runs away.
It seems like the idea behind the base building would be to build yourself a super-base, and then defend it from any intruders who happen across it. The only problem with that, however, is that you’re never certain where the center of the storm radius is going to end up. So wherever you build your base, you almost always have to abandon it to get into the radius. and after a few times of building your super-base, you have to start wondering what the point is. The end-goal of the game is having that final shootout with whoever’s left, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve battled against a super-base.
And if you think about it, a base building mechanic would probably be way better suited in a game like PUBG, where the feel is a lot more tactical and methodical, contrary to Fortnite’s faster-paced gameplay, leaving games to take significantly less time than a game of PUBG might. Fortnite isn’t a game you can be massively tactical in, not like you would want to. You’re playing in third person the entire time, you can’t even go prone, and you have one weapon you can look down the scope with. Fortnite is just more of an arena shooter than anything else.
The only other part of the game I can almost appreciate is the Overwatch aspect they’re taking in that they’re releasing limited special game modes like Blitz, snipers only, and 20v20 where the game is mixed up a bit. But in the end, I found no real incentive for playing those game modes, other than just to have stupid fun. But like I said before, the game isn’t really that fun, and unlike in Overwatch you don’t get loot crates with special skins, you don’t rank up, you’re just playing a different game mode on the same map.
I don’t like the cosmetics.
Like I said before, cosmetics in a game aren’t bad per se, but in Fortnite in particular, it’s really just a scheme by Epic to make money off of the free thing they gave to the world. I guess it’s the downside to a free to play game, but they’re not skins that are for the game, the skins are wacky and outlandish and don’t fit the feel of the game at all. I don’t even want to talk about the dance emote thing which has become a meme at this point, and is just perfect when you get killed from across the map and you have to watch some asshole rub it in like that.
But there’s really no reason to talk about the cosmetics, since they have no gameplay effect, and there’s no pay to win aspect or anything here, so it’s just personal preference. If you like the outlandish skins and cosmetics and emotes and all that, good for you. You’re just validating Epic in their quest to ride this bandwagon for as long as humanly possible.
So what about it?
At the end of the day, you can’t argue with the numbers. Fortnite has become wildly successful over the many months it’s been out and even through all the competition with PUBG. Really, it’s become the alternative for the more popular, tactical, Battle Royale shooter. And, I mean, It’s free, so what more do you want?
Since there’s not much that goes into a Battle Royale mode, it can be pretty easy to take that base concept and add something onto it, and since there weren’t many popular games in that genre out yet, Fortnite seized the opportunity and made a more cartoonish third-person/base building PUBG, it worked out quite well amongst the gaming community. Not to mention, the game is well developed, and pretty well optimized, counter that with PUBG where the game barely runs on a decent computer and only monster computers get that smooth 60 fps, it still feels like more of a mod than an actual game at this point.
But it’s my review, and what I say is, Fortnite is only alright for a battle royale game, it does what it needs to. But the thing that makes it “special”, ie. the building mechanic, doesn’t really fit the game mode the way it should. There’s a lot more they could do to the gameplay that they’re just putting into the cosmetics, and it’s because the game is already as good as it needs to be. I wouldn’t expect anything drastic to happen to this game in the future, other than maybe a new map. But since they recently overhauled the current one and are continuing to do so, I don’t know when that would be happening if at all.
Despite being the loud and colorful cousin of PUBG, the game feels pretty lackluster. It feels like something that’s trying to be engineered to be good, which I can’t really appreciate too much. Like I said earlier, it’s trying to be the Overwatch of the Battle Royale games, but It’s just not working out like it should. Of course, I say that and people are absolutely loving the game, but In my opinion, it just doesn’t have the charm or the replayability of a titan like Overwatch.