Since late 2017, Fortnite has quickly grown to be the most popular game in the world. Despite competition from the likes of PUBG, and more recently Apex Legends, Fortnite’s still reaching highs of 10.7 million concurrent players during its unique live events, and with over 200 million registered players as of November last year, Fortnite is undoubtedly unbeatable right now. The real question, however, is whether Fortnite is actually any good.
To answer that, we’re going to have to cast our minds back to when Fortnite first launched. Since the release of the battle royale mode in September 2017, Epic has put it through a vast number of changes, and the current iteration of Fortnite Battle Royale is a far cry from what we experienced when we jumped out of the battle bus for the first time. Fortnite hasn’t always got it right, but there have been times where other video games basically ceased to exist altogether.
The most impressive multiplayer narrative ever seen
Part of Fortnite’s appeal comes from its unexpected narrative. Despite it existing solely as an online multiplayer title, Epic spent the majority of 2018 breaking the usual multiplayer gameplay tropes by introducing a continuously evolving plot line, which now spans multiple seasons of Fortnite content.
It all started with a meteor that hung in the sky for weeks, before crashing into the map and obliterating Dusty Depot. It created a sense of wonder in the community and since then there’s been numerous in-game events like the rocket launch, Kevin the Cube, the enormous iceberg, and most recently the huge volcano in Fortnite Season 8.
Epic’s wonderful way of telling stories through unconventional mediums means it has created an incredibly passionate Fortnite community, which thrives on speculating on what it all could mean and the potential outcomes. Without these awe-inspiring moments, the game wouldn’t be half as intriguing. The community is the heart of Fortnite – yes, even the soccer skin wearing players who love to kill me in one headshot with a pump shotgun.
Although Fortnite has been executing the most impressive multiplayer narrative in games for over a year now, none of that matters if the game isn’t enjoyable to play. But there’s a reason it’s captured the attention of millions around the world for so long, and it isn’t just down to the Floss dance and Skull Trooper skin.
The match-to-match experience
It’s not difficult to see why Fortnite initially exploded in popularity. Free-to-play; the only battle royale on consoles until PUBG got ported; child-friendly aesthetics; and not to mention that back then, the average skill level was nowhere near what you see now. Players have improved along with the game itself. When Fortnite first launched, single staircases up the side of mountains were considered elite tier, not the complex Taj Mahal recreations some players can construct now in an instant when you fire a few shots – and this is coming from someone who can mostly keep up with the meta and wins fairly consistently. Epic’s constant feedback and patch loop also helps keep the game feeling fresh, and proves that it’s constantly listening to its community.
However, because of that, learning how to play Fortnite as a newbie isn’t an easy feat. The control scheme is complex – and rightly so since the building mechanic is right alongside the standard third-person shooter core gameplay – and you need to somehow get to grips with the entire game while fighting against players who have been playing for a year or longer. Thankfully there isn’t a lot to learn with the weapons themselves, because the gunplay is basic and if you’ve played a shooter before, it should come as second nature.
Fortnite is constantly evolving
Your experience with Fortnite will be different depending on when you get involved though, because the meta constantly changes as Epic introduces new items and vaults old ones. Just like the map frequently changing, some of the weapons available will be completely different from month to month. In the past we’ve seen new items introduced that have gone down a treat like the Heavy Sniper and Rift-to-Go, but there’s also been some truly awful additions such as the Guided Missile and the Jetpack. Of course, fan favourites like the Grappler and Bouncer haven’t proved immune to being thrown in the vault either, despite the outcry from the community.
Epic Games’ wild ride of changes – combined with the slick building mechanics and quirky items that keep the game from feeling too serious – mean that as a whole, Fortnite is so fun to play. There are times where you’ll be clearly outplayed and quit for the evening, but you’ll be right back at it tomorrow because nothing in Fortnite ever feels unfair – except for when you find four common pistols in the same house upon landing GODDAMNIT. But when that happens, you can jump over to one of the other multiple modes on offer, because Fortnite has moved past being solely a battle royale game (sorry Fortnite: Save The World).
Numerous game modes on offer
Almost nothing stays the same in Fortnite whether you like it or not. In fact, the only thing that has remained constants are the three core game modes; solo, duo, and squad. They speak for themselves in that you can play alone, with a pal, or with multiple pals. They are the foundation Fortnite was built upon and the modes that instantly comes to mind for all players. To keep things intriguing for players who don’t enjoy that core gameplay loop though, there are plenty of “limited time modes” to get stuck into that shake up the core mechanics of the game.
Known as LTMs for short, they can be anything from two teams of 50 players each duking it out, a mode that turns Fortnite into a deathmatch with unlimited respawns, or something even wilder like the one that only gave players Jetpacks and shotguns. Fortnite will always have something for everyone. Despite being around for a “limited time”, most LTMs have been known to return, you simply have to check back regularly to see if there’s a new mode that you may enjoy much more than the standard offerings.
A sandbox mode with endless possibilities
The whole “something for everyone” adage continues when the relatively new Creative mode comes into the equation. While it’s not battle royale by definition, Creative is an extension of the Playground sandbox mode that was introduced almost a year ago. Epic has an objective of turning Fortnite into a service rather than a single game, and their first step in achieving that goal has arrived with Creative mode. It clearly takes a huge leaf out of Minecraft’s creative mode but without being limited to individual blocks, executes the idea much more impressively.
Fortnite’s Creative mode gives you a blank island canvas that lets you construct your own magnificent creation, which you can then invite your friends into. From adventure maps to picturesque pieces of art, the possibilities are endless. But it goes one step further than that, because if you build within a designated area – known as The Block – Epic may well feature it within the main Fortnite map itself, which only serves to emphasise Epic’s connection to its community.
You don’t need to be a creative wizkid to get the most out of Creative mode, because there are always other people’s maps available to play. Alongside the various rifts to empty islands, there are four featured islands made by people in the community. They’re hand-picked by Epic, so you can be sure the quality is excellent. If the four on offer don’t take your fancy, you can check out our best Fortnite Creative codes list so you can select another map to try out. Fortnite has gone way past simply being a battle royale game.
Influencing the younger generation
This is a review of the game itself, but it’s hard to understate just how influential Fortnite has been on modern culture over the last year. Impressively, it’s all down to the microtransactions in the game. Epic has created a playground environment where if kids don’t spend real money on the game and obtain the latest cool skins and dances, they’ll be ridiculed and shunned by others around them. It’s not healthy and it’s definitely not a good sign for future gaming trends, but Epic has found a way to make billions through it.
Fortnite isn’t the same game it was on release. It’s not even the same game it was right before Christmas. Epic is leading the industry forward with Fortnite, and while the game can be frustrating at times due to the random nature of loot drops or players simply being better than you, it’s utterly foolish to claim that Fortnite isn’t an incredible game. If you overexerted yourself with Fortnite last year and it grew stale, hop back on and try it out again. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Reviewed on PS4 and PC.