Review: Fortnite: Battle Royale

So before we start this review, a few disclaimers:

  • I have only played the Battle Royale mode, not the Save the World campaign.
  • I just started playing the game right before season five started, so I can’t comment on any features before then.
  • I also haven’t played “PUBG” (since it wasn’t released on PS4), but I know the similarities of these games is a point of controversy.

   Over the past year, I heard a lot of rumblings about “Fortnite.” I had seen some friends playing it and a few YouTube videos about it, but ignored it for the most part. Shooters aren’t my thing and I’m not very good at them.

   But a few weeks ago at the suggestion of my brother I downloaded the game and decided to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised. I had heard nothing but negative thoughts on the game and knew it contained one of the worst trends in modern gaming: microtransactions (shudder).

   I was also concerned when I learned franchises like “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” were adding their own battle royale modes. It only made “Fortnite” seem like more of a fad to me.

I gotta say their booth at E3 2018 looks awesome.

   However, I can report that this game is really fun. The combination of a third person shooter, the building mechanic, a nice variety of modes and weapons and just the number of players come together nicely to make an addicting experience.

   The storm mechanic does its job well, forcing players to come together in a small portion of the map for an all-out battle. It’s a nice way to keep the game moving at a fast pace and avoid me running around aimlessly to find an enemy.

   I also enjoy the way you can jump off the Battle Bus and pick where to land. It allows for different strategies and keeps the gameplay fresh (quick thought though, why do people always land at Tilted Towers? It seems like at least a quarter of the field land there and you die very quickly).

   The biggest way “Fortnite” stands out is its building mechanic. Nearly everything in the game is breakable and can be salvaged for building materials by beating it with your pickaxe. It feels pretty satisfying to do so and leave a small town or campsite in ruins.

   In turn, this allows you to make forts, stairways to climb steep mountains, bridges to get past the water in Loot Lake without walking super slow and provides a way to block enemy fire if you’re quick enough.

   It makes the game feel like more than just the average shooter, since you can be creative and use building to save your skin at times. It’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. I do have to say it gets annoying at times when the final stand between two or three people is just a build-a-thon that never ends, but that might just be me getting frustrated because I’m not super good at it.  

   The game feels pretty fair as well, since none of the weapons seem too powerful or not powerful enough. Shotguns and assault rifles are my preferred method, but snipers are quite powerful and pistols are pretty weak, which is accurate. It creates a sense of balance and offers variety on the different strategies you can use.

   Another thing I like about this game is the art style. It’s bright, colorful and has a goofy, cartoony aspect to it. It complements the gameplay, which feels like a casual arcade shooter instead of a bland, “realistic” shooter like “Call of Duty.” But that just comes down to my personal preference.

   Even in the short month I’ve been playing the game, I can appreciate how Epic continues to add things to shake up the formula. We got a new desert section of the map, and golf carts for season five.

   The birthday challenges were fun, and new weekly objectives like the rings of fire and clay shooting stations act as nice distractions (until someone shoots you in the back). Also, new modes like Playground and Fly Explosives are incredibly fun and add to the game’s shelf life.

   The microtransactions aren’t even a huge deal to me. Everything you can buy with V-Bucks (the in-game currency you have to pay real money to get) are only cosmetic upgrades to customize your character, and you can sleep well at night not buying them, as it doesn’t give any gameplay advantages to players.

   But my goodness there are so many things you can get to customize your character, including full outfits, emotes (aka dances and taunts), backpacks and the trusty pickaxe. I can now kill someone with a balloon pickaxe, and it’s satisfying as hell.

   I did end up buying the battle pass, as $10 isn’t terrible for what you get. It gives you experience faster, and it gives me a sense of purpose to continue playing. I really want that sweet, sweet Viking dude skin.

   It’s not like “Star Wars Battlefront II” where fan-favorite characters and better weapons are blocked or most mobile games like “Clash of Clans” which slow your progress to a crawl if you refuse to pony up.

I am sad it took me so long to get into this game. I missed the short window where you could play as Thanos, which looks freaking awesome!

   I don’t have very many complaints about this game. It runs well, has a distinct look and feel that separates itself from the pack, microtransactions don’t affect the gameplay unfairly and it’s free to play.

   Granted, your mileage may vary on the gameplay. If you want a more realistic feel, this may not be for you. Also, the fact that there’s only one (albeit huge) map may bum some players out, as well as the lack of vehicles besides the shopping and golf carts.

   It’s also worth noting that the game is being reported as having troubling effects on kids. Teachers have noted that kids are spending too much time playing “Fortnite” instead of focusing on schoolwork. Apparently, parents for some reason are hiring tutors to teach their kids how to play the game? Kinda weird. I guess that makes sense though because a vast majority of the people talking in my squad always sound like they’re 10 years old. 

   But by far my favorite headline I read was one that stated kids at recess are intimidating other kids by doing some of the various dances from the game. I probably shouldn’t laugh but I do every time I think about it. Just imagine a flash mob of 20 kids dancing like goofs towards one poor child that just wants to play tag. 

   I got off track a bit but overall, “Fortnite” is a shooter that has its own unique style and mechanics that make it better than your average shooter. It’s constantly being updated and tweaked, and has forced some of the bigger industry names to latch on to the battle royal formula.

   It’s a lot of fun if you know what you’re getting in to, and hey, it’s free. I heard a lot of negative things about it and expected to not like it when I started, but it must just be backlash from “PUBG” fans and people who want to hate on something so popular in the mainstream.

   That doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s just some good, solid fun. I definitely recommend giving it a try, especially 50 vs 50 mode and Fly Explosives.

Rating: 4 kids failing math but racking up Victory Royales out of 5

Henry Wolski
Executive Editor

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