Fortnite: Battle Royale

Fortnite: Battle Royale

This is probably the most uniquely difficult review I’ve ever done. For one thing, Fortnite can be seen as either three separate games or one game with three modes. Secondly, reviews are typically based on a snapshot of a game near launch, and when exactly Fortnite launched is open to interpretation, since it unceremoniously dropped its Early Access label mid-season after nearly three years of updates and story arcs. Lastly, as the explosively popular centrepiece of a generational divide, Fortnite has become a punching bag for a demographic of Real Gamers­TM to which I ostensibly belong. So after finally giving the Battle Royale component a try, I’m ambivalently surprised to find it quite enjoyable.

It was immediately apparent how late to the party I was. Launching the game bombards players with cosmetic monetization options and vestigial remnants of past events. At least I assume that’s why there’s a pointless fishing sidequest in this multiplayer shooter. And did they seriously lock additional menu music behind a paywall? But beyond that first impression, the gameplay’s appeal becomes more evident. The cartoonish appearance and famous dancing emotes have given the game a rambunctious reputation that’s totally at odds with how quiet and atmospheric it can be. The island setting is full of fascinating landmarks and hidden details that make exploration alone engaging, especially with the threat of opponents lurking out of sight. Of course, this is assuming you’re playing solo and is part of the reason I would advise players to never, ever play team matches with randoms.

The actual combat is mostly straightforward, but the building mechanic that was originally a holdover from Save the World gives it a leg up on the competition. Its controls are as intuitive as could be hoped, given that they share the space with those of a standard shooter, and the “structural weakpoint” system makes the menial task of dismantling structures slightly more interesting. Whether combat happens frequently enough is a question I’ve been grappling with, as a smaller map would be more immediately exciting, but it would also diminish the tension between encounters. Lastly, while I’m not a huge fan of the art style, it is supremely functional for gameplay purposes.

7/10
7/10

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