August 16, 2022
One of the most popular and action-intensive battle royales of the past decade is still making rounds. But, how long can it keep going?
Alright, I'll say it: Fortnite sucks! Ok, I'm mildly kidding, but if you know what Fortnite is, then I've probably garnered your attention already with such clickbait.
Truth is, I suck at this game in more ways than I can begin to relate. The funny thing is that I have won my fair share of PUBG matches (and on mobile, of all places) but, for all the times I've tried, I could never get myself thoroughly invested in Fortnite: Battle Royale. I can recall the few times I've been able to win, and they were almost always in cooperative mode.
Some people would claim that the game's popularity made it more demanding due to the increased competitiveness. This could be partly true, but I would also blame other factors (which I'll get to in a bit).
Fortnite was not the first battle royale game ever, by any stretch. That honor falls upon PlayerUnknown Battleground (PUBG in short) but you may still find some earlier examples (mostly mods of other games).
Fortnite was not even planned to be a battle royale from the start. Development for this game began way before PUBG and it was supposed to be solely a cooperative tower defense game with an apocalyptic storyline and a darker art style. During development, the art style turned more cartoonish and the gameplay itself began to have a deeper emphasis on role-playing. The developers were pushing to create a unique genre that blended third-person shooting with construction features like those found in Terraria or Minecraft.
Fortnite: Save the World was presumed to be the main project, whereas the "spinoffs", namely, Fortnite: Battle Royale and Fortnite Creative, were tacked onto the blueprint later on. As it turned out, by an ironic twist of fate, the Save the World mode would be the last one to be released (although it was on paid early access since July of 2017).
Save the World doesn't hold much depth, and the mode has been maligned for basically scrapping many of the features that made the Battle Royale mode so successful. Battle Royale, on the flip side, pulled the right strings and became the equivalent of the quintessential Fortnite experience, generating the bulk of the revenue for Epic Games.
In terms of graphics, Fortnite might not have the most amazing visuals ever, but they're very workable and, best of all, optimized. This game is meant to be played at a framerate of 60 fps minimum, and few devices and gadgets would go below that, Better yet, the developers added a plethora of graphics options to cater to those with low-end devices.
Lastly, and before detailing the gameplay aspects, I like to reflect on the hype generated by this game and, for this purpose, I'd like to get back at my initial statement: "Fortnite sucks". Again, this is not because I genuinely believe that the game is bad, but because of the way hype managed to mar my experience of an above-average game, all things considered. I could liken it to a retail seller trying to pass a decent $5 sparkling wine bottle for a Dom Perignon.
I'm convinced that, as the game's popularity wanes, we can start judging it for its own merits, just as I was able to do with classic hype-generating machines like Final Fantasy IX or Watch Dogs (which got its bad rep initially for its manifest graphical downgrades). Fortnite's innovative merger formula does deserve its quota of praise, but there is such a thing as "too much praise".
Fortnite is a third-person shooter with construction game elements, where you'll be able to perform stealth shootings, engage in melee combat, and craft elevated structures almost instantly from materials gathered throughout the game world.
As disclosed earlier on, the game has three modes: Save the World, Battle Royale, and Creative.
Save the World is the game's "campaign mode" that was released as a standalone premium title in 2020, with an apocalyptic storyline involving the decimation of large portions of the world's population and an overabundance of zombies to kill. It spans 4 Base Game Locations and 4 Event Locations, and you'll be joining other players as you attack CPU-controlled enemies (Player vs. Environment).
The Battle Royale mode has a similar premise to PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, with some gameplay elements also pasted over. You are sent to an island via an aircraft and, as you parachute your way to the ground from the exit point of your choice, you begin to look for gear and materials to aid you. As the encircling storm gets larger and shrinks the safe zone, your encounters with enemies (other players in this case) become more frequent. The ultimate purpose here is to kill off all the competition and remain as the last player standing.
You may obtain loot from downed players - consisting of pieces of equipment and/or consumables - and erect tall buildings to shield yourself and seek vantage points for optimal sniper shots.
The game's Battle Royale mode also has various gameplay options. You can participate in solo or cooperative matches, the latter of which will pair you with other players or assign you to online teams on a whim to fight other teams.
The points you earn throughout the deathmatches can be exchanged for memorable skins and animations. These may also be purchased with real money if you prefer. Moreover, you can participate in the famous "Seasons", consisting of themed periods where you'll be capable of earning special rewards.
The combat is fast-paced to a seizure-inducing degree. This is perhaps my biggest gripe with the game, although it's not really a bug, but a feature rather. The competition truly gets rough and merciless, and you'll be often humbled by your typical 12-year-old "green beret" who can telegraph your movements to a tee from a 21-mile distance.
The construction features were a nice addition, but I felt they were a bit unintuitive and gimmicky in some portions. This feature, needless to say, places Fortnite ahead of PUBG (the "Father of Battle Royales") to the point where it spawned its own separate game mode later on (Fortnite Creative), with marked similarity to games like Minecraft, Roblox, or Dragon Quest Builders.
In general, the outstanding number of gameplay features is praiseworthy, but it also comes at the expense of a steep learning curve. This is a game in which you'll be required to use virtually all of these functionalities, and there's a probability that you'll feel overwhelmed, almost to the point of being discouraged from continuing.
I'd say this happened to me several times. I would quit the game after several failed attempts at understanding its convoluted mechanics, only to return sometime later for more frustratingly painful matches and events. Thankfully, you can take your time and smell the flowers in Creative, which grants you enough breathing room to experiment and do trial and error more efficiently, though I'd have to wait an entire year to have that option available after my initial playthroughs.
In the end, Fortnite doesn't suck, but you may suck at it. It is a great video game worth exploring and trying out. If the hype around it rubs you the wrong way, you can wait for a few years until the popularity dies down, but, then again, there would not be much of a game anyways at that point, so why not try it now? It's also free-to-play, so you can install it anytime!
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