Our in-the-field corresponding Timo delved into the world of Fortnite for the first time and returned a changed man.
If you're like me, Fortnite has slowly turned into this hulking behemoth of a video game. By now it feels like a massive blindspot and not just a passing fad you're trying to ignore.
I have to admit, though, this headline is a bit of a lie. I actually own Fortnite, the Save the World version that was sold for full price. You know that version you can now play for free in the endless pages of content.
Back then it was kinda quirky and weird, and I only ended up putting a few hours into it before it was thrown off the hard drive.
And then I slept through Fortnite, slowly becoming the biggest thing in gaming.
But when they announced the Attack on Titan collaboration event and promised to bring the ODM Gear with it, I felt the desire to zip through the skies and blast fools with shotguns. That happened a week ago.
I'm a changed man now.
Having zipped through the air with ODM Gear as Leon S. Kennedy, fought a cyber katana duel with Son Goku and got run over by a truck with Master Chief driving. That experience alone is why Fortnite is worth playing, but there are also other reasons!
Lootin' Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' (No Building Though)
From the outside, Fortnite's destructible environment and building mechanics always seemed a little daunting. The few clips I saw before playing usually involved someone building a 5 story building with the flick of the mouse.
After trying that mode a few times, only to be met with walls in my face and or those 5 story towers popping up out of nowhere the moment a single shot was fired. I figured I'd take my business to zero-build mode.
That mode only had half the player numbers of regular Battle Royal, only 150.000 players at any given hour of the day. And it is nice that Epic chooses to serve my very insignificant niche of Fortnite gamer.
In its current iteration, Fortnite is just a really good casual shooter. By that, I mean that it's not too mechanical but offers enough to sink your teeth in. At least when we're talking about the shooting people in the face bit, everything else deserves an extra section.
You have your classic weapon types that come in various versions with different rarities that indicate their damage numbers. It's easy to grasp and scavenging for guns and other stuff is fun and your inventory is so small that decisions of what to keep always feel meaningful.
I played on a PlayStation 5 with a controller because I was afraid Epic's big Unreal 5 Engine update to Fortnite would explode my poor GTX 970. And it felt really good to play on Dualshock 5, especially with Gyro-aiming enabled.
Nailing headshots will always be a bit of a problem with a controller. But Fortnite's way more about moving and making the best out of your situation, having a really good aim might make the difference in some trades, but it never felt necessary.
Gunfights are always fun, even if the rarity of the gun you're firing will heavily decide who wins a firefight. That means you need to pick your battles depending on what you have, which makes the small choices you have to make all the more meaningful.
Add to that some solid movement options like vaulting and a glorious slide while aiming and that Titanfall-shaped gap in your heart is at least slightly filled.
Mechanical Grab Bag of Excellence
If it were just for the shooting, Fortnite would be a capable, very good maybe even great Battle Royale with a fun building twist I don't enjoy. But the work that they've put in since 2017 is really impressive, not just from a visual perspective.
Something happened in between, I know they did some wacky live events and added some fun collaboration-timed mechanics like being able to play as the purple Marvel guy.
In its current iteration, the gigantic map is split into several zones and even subsections offering their own spin on the gameplay.
You get an extremely vertical cityscape, ice lakes to slide over, temples with super secret vaults underneath, or generic fantasy land. And all of them mix surprisingly well with vehicles and other gameplay gimmicks.
Currently, you can find gold bars that carry over in between games which you can use to upgrade weapons or purchase stuff from NPCs roaming the map. You can find keys to unlock special weapons and or find secrets littered about.
The little gameplay gimmicks like areas to hold for a while, bounties to hunt, supply drops to hunt, and special crates to defend. And since you'll spend most of the time getting better gear, all of those things are worth doing and can get you into fun scenarios.
For example, there's an NPC and his goons that'll spawn with a vault key. You need to kill all three of them to get some juicy loot from the vault. You can take them down alone or with your friends.. or steal the card from a player or jump that player who is trying to kill them.
It might not sound like much but having a big map with things happening that draw players in, makes sure that those are always worth your time be it for loot or the opportunity to kill and then loot.
Fortnite, the Popcultural Singularity
It is my inherent belief that your enjoyment of Epic's Battle Royal extravaganza really depends on how much you're into the idea of the most ambitious crossover in all of the media.
Smash Bros. might be cool with a bunch of gaming greats slapping each other around, but nothing beats the visual spectacle of pop stars, movie characters, athletes, superheroes, the game's protagonist, and a man in a banana suit trying to kill each other.
And I would've not played Fortnite for more than a couple of rounds if I hadn't been able to play Resident Evil's very own Leon Scott Kennedy. There was just something about playing Leon and busting out dance moves to a copyrighted song that I found incredibly entertaining.
For full disclosure, I only paid some money for the Battle Pass and somehow ended up with 10.000 Vbucks (the game's premium currency). Presumedly because I once paid money for a version of this game that no longer exists.
So I swiftly purchased myself the ability to Skinwalk the 4 Resident Evil characters, Levi from Attack on Titan and some emotes to go with them. A great investment, all things considered.
At this point, I fear all of reality will collapse once Fortnite has absorbed every bit of pop culture in existence. Then again, I get it now. I would also like to see the Beatles have a firefight with the cast of Friends. So keep doing what you're doing Fortnite.
Weird Cross Media tie-inns and Creative mode
To be completely transparent here, I've only dipped my feet into some of the user-made content and all that Unreal Engine Games for Fortnite stuff. So it is really hard to get a real glimpse at it from the eye of the storm.
As of writing Fortnite has a collaboration with the Coachella Music and Arts Festival up on their servers. You can also buy special tie-in skins, some of them being artists from the festival as well as emotes, licensed songs, and other stuff.
You can even visit a special map with some neat little gameplay gimmicks and zones for you and your friends to hang out and party at.
In concept not a bad idea, but in actuality, do you really think a bunch of teenagers care about concerts and funny art things you dangle in front of their faces unless you dangle the promise of VBucks and free stuff in front of their faces?
But I get it, Fortnite is a global phenomenon and just having this stuff is presenting people experiences they might never get to have. It's just that Fortnite is not the game I expect people to hang out in the outside of running squads after school.
On the other end of the spectrum are the creator maps, here players get to use most of the assets and Fortnite's extensive suite of tools to build stuff. And from what I've seen on the most popular maps, Fortnite is bringing the magic of Gary's Mod and ArmA mods to a wider audience.
Then there's the Unreal Editor for Fortnite, which is an extension of the creative suite. There is not much out for it as of writing, since it's only been out for a month but it feels like Epic is trying to cash in on what made Dreams for PlayStation so amazing.
The few test maps out there feel more like proofs of concept. Like a team, death matches shooter ala Call of Duty or some graphical tech demos. But sooner or later, I think we'll see some really wild stuff with Fortnite providing a platform for that content to be discovered and monetized.
And its also a great way to get people interested in game development, similar to how Half-Life gave way to Counter-Strike or Warcraft to Dota. And I'm here for it and I'll report on it if I'll find something wild out there.
Fortnite Might Not Be Prestige Gaming, but It's a Damn Good Time
Spending a week with Fortnite, I'm left excited for its future and confused by its very existence. I understand that the game certainly isn't made for me, someone who can't really get into the whole live service aspect of modern games.
But then I have to remind myself that this game is free to play. The amount of content presented constantly updated, expanded, or completely reworked is insane. So can I really cry over the pricing of funny cosmetics? Kinda.
The Battle Pass is cool in theory, the way you complete quests at least shakes up your playstyle a bit but I don't understand the whole unlocking rewards after earning them a thing. But you can earn all the premium rewards just by playing.
As for gameplay, Fortnite plays like a game that has been in active development for 5+ years. It's extremely polished and everything just works when was the last time you've seen that in a big popular game?
It makes a strong case why some games should consider having prolonged active development. And it's clear that the money earned by all the expensive skins and emotes are being put to good use, besides funding most of the Unreal Engine's development. Probably.
Fortnite is one of the best values in gaming today. And there's a reason why everyone tries to be like it but never succeeds, Fortnite keeps innovating and reinventing itself to offer new and fresh experiences for its players.
And if you've been looking at Fortnite with a scowl on your face as I have, give it a try, it's free!
You might play this and think to yourself, why aren't other multiplayer shooters this easy and fun to play? It's almost frustrating to see how effortlessly they pulled that off.
I'm even confident to declare: This is better than Team Fortress 2 was at this peak.
Fortnite is Available on Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, iOS, and Android.