It’s not often in life, never mind in gaming, to get something so addictive and fun for free. But that is exactly what we get with Epic Games’ Fortnite: Battle Royale. After the success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (well, at least on the PC) it was only a matter of time before someone took the format and put their own spin on it. Epic Games and People Can Fly deliver us their version of this new gaming phenomenon with Fortnite: Battle Royale. Now, Fortnite the actual co-op survival game, that was intended at first will not be covered in this review, that is down to the fact that I haven’t played it. The battle royale addition to the game is what we, and everyone else it seems, will be focusing on. This game mode is completely free-to-play, 100% free. Yes there are micro-transactions but how many games don’t have these in some form these days?! And in this game they are purely aesthetic so they won’t give you any kind of edge. Fortnite: Battle Royal also has a great feature that allows your profile to cross platform, meaning you can play on PS4 in the home, and carry over your profile to a PC or in my case a laptop! This is something I would love to see more of in gaming, we understand the competition between platforms, but for us to have that diversity can only be a good thing for all parties. Gaming politics aside, lets have a look at the game.
First let’s get into how this game looks and sounds, personally I love it. The simple yet beautiful cartoon look of this game allows for a unique, colourful experience that appeals to a broad gaming audience. There is very little foliage meaning textures load quickly, and the colours really pop. The map design and the character models are fantastic, everything fits together perfectly. The graphics are not ground breaking but remember this is a free game. As for the sound, this is the part of the game that I love the most. If you are lucky enough to find a rocket launcher in game then you will see what I mean. Some of the best sound effects I have heard in a long time. As for how this is in game, it does get very tense, Epic have nailed this aspect. As fun as this game is, hearing bullets in the distance will make your heart start to race, especially when playing solo.
Now the gameplay is the heart of Fortnite: Battle Royale, as I mentioned it follows the same premise as PUBG. 100 players are flown over an island either in Solo, Duo or Squads, they choose when to leave the vessel, and sky dive to the ground below. The difference is instead of being armed with nothing, in Fortnite players are equipped with a very big axe which can be used to gather materials(wood, bricks and metal) which can be used to build various shapes and structures, but more on that later. Players can loot buildings and chests for weapons and other items such as shields, first aid and even booby-traps. All the while a deadly, perfectly circular storm is closing in on the island meaning players must move closer to the center and more importantly closer to each other. Last player/team alive with be granted the illusive “Victory Royale”.
The game is played in 3rd person mode, no 1st person option exists but as this is not the full release we may see that in the future. The controls are simple, with players being able to switch between, weapons, items, your axe and crafting with the touch of a button. Weapons have various levels and are colour coded like most games, with white meaning common, then green, blue, purple and finally the legendary gold. Each level of rarity brings more damage, can increase clip size, add silencers and just give you the edge you need to win. I have found from my many hours of playing this game that the spread of more powerful weapons is fair and reasonable. You will have rounds where you feel hard done by, having nothing but common SMGs at your disposal however the fact that you can build yourself out of the situation makes up for this.
The ability to build is what sets Fortnite: Battle Royale apart for me. Walls, floors, stairs and pyramids are the 4 shapes you have the option of, giving tons of possibility from a temporary wall of cover, a snipers birds nest all the way to a full blown tower. Players who have mastered the building aspect have a huge edge over those who are maybe just starting out, and some incredible plays can be witnessed. While streaming this game with JJ and Reza we witnessed someone build some cover for themselves, lay down a launch pad trap, fly in the air then glide down behind us to get the kill. We weren’t even mad, it was such a good move. And it is these kind of moves that make this game so much fun. Play alone for some real tense action, or jump in with a group of your friends and have hours of entertainment trying to make it to the end of the game.
New mechanics, items and even game modes are being added and trialed regularly, right now they have just added the campfire, a new way to heal your character and your surrounding allies. Not long ago they introduced a 50v50 mode, which was a lot of fun, using the 100 strong server for something a little different. Right now the map is very festive, featuring Christmas trees throughout, and fairy lights on all of the bushes. Epic Games are always looking for new ways to spice things up, and add to the already brilliant gameplay. Keep a look out for the Boogie Bomb especially!
The combat is strong, aiming feels great and the recoil exists but is not over powered, each weapon has a fair range, and the fact there are different level of power does bring some luck into 1v1 situations. But as with most games skill will always prevail. Jumping seems to be peoples preferred method of attack as well as defense, so be ready to get mashing the jump button when approaching an adversary. Traps can be laid down easily so if you are looking to camp in a house you can lay a trap for people to stumble in to, sit back and watch them die then take all of their precious loot for your self. The fact that this game is free, and the micro-transactions are simply for new character and axe skins make this game even more appealing to me. Epic Games have done an amazing job, I’m going to stop typing now and probably get back in the game myself!