Fortnite: Battle Royale is publisher Epic Games’ brand new entry into the competitive multiplayer Hunger Games style of survival games that have steadily been picking up steam since the days of the ARMA 2 mod DayZ or even the custom Minecraft maps that started off the genre. They recently shot their way to the top of the must-play list with the massive popularity of PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds.
I can’t help but wonder if the devs at People Can Fly saw this as a good way to cash in on the success of a burgeoning genre when they essentially had all the assets and gameplay ready with their namesake and flagship game, Fortnite, currently in early access and set to release some time in 2018, it was certainly a canny move.
Frankly I had forgotten Fortnite had existed, it made a small splash back in 2014 when open world survival experiences peppered with zombies were still in vogue, so I suppose this is as good a way as any to inject a little life into a fading brand, what also helps is that they released F:BR as essentially a free “game mode” for Fortnite and I bet they are frantically trying to tie the two games together, while churning out cosmetics to offer as micro transactions.
The game follows the format of all the “Battle Royale” type games, in that you are dropped into the map (Via weird sci-fi “Battlebus”, which I’m sure makes sense in Fortnite lore), after which you zoom into a little chunk of the map and proceed to scavenge around for loot and weapons to help you kill the other 99 players that are currently doing the same, after a pre-determined time, a circle of death draws in, forcing you to either head to the smaller circle’s boundaries or die, it’s last person standing wins, all good fun.
One area where Fortnite departs from most other offerings is in it’s quite jolly and cartoonish artsyle, everything is neon purple and green with exaggerated explosion effects and items that pop in and out of existence, this makes a refreshing and noticeable change from the almost gritty, military-sim style of other, similar games.
It must be noted however that the appearance of the game does not detract from the experience, I found the gun-play to be crisp and satisfying, there is also plenty of ways in the world to sneak about if that’s your thing.
Perhaps the most drastic difference is a feature ported over from vanilla Fortnite: the building system, which allows players to construct little fortifications by scavenging materials from the destructible environment, I thought this to be the most unique and distinct features of the game and really sets it apart, being that this system is fully featured and feels quite intuitive, even though the format of the “Battle Royale” game mode doesn’t really lend itself to having players stay in one place for too long, since the “safe” area of the map shifts every couple of minutes.
Overall I have really enjoyed my time playing the game, it’s a real time-sink that while not being particularly fleshed out comparatively; with there being few unlockables, no team-based mode or vehicles, it is a thrill to construct a castle and enact a valiant last-stand while being beset by RPGs and machinegun fire.
Yet again another free game worthy of your time if you’re sick of, can’t afford or just don’t like what’s on offer with games like PUBG and H1Z1: KOTK.