When Fortnite Battle Royale came to the PS4 as a free-to-play title on September 26th I didn’t think much of it. I had been tempted to purchase Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) after watching a lot of it on twitch and being interested in the concept of fighting against 99 other people with only the guns and armour you could find, however I didn’t see myself getting that much out of the game to justify the price tag. So, when Fortnite Battle Royale came out as free on September 26th my immediate thought was that a game developer was taking advantage of the immense popularity PUBG had seen by creating a cheap knock off. I decided to download the game because my friends were excited to play together in a battle arena type game, and I was interested to see if Epic Games would incorporate anything from their PvE game that I had heard about years ago when it was announced as free-to-play. After playing the game for hours every night with my friends for about 2-3 weeks and coming up on 50 squad wins, I can safely say that my initial assumptions were very wrong.
Fortnite Battle Royale’s general gameplay isn’t anything particularly special. Combat can feel great, but is occasionally marred by frustrating bullet spread and the effectiveness of your weapon against your opponents. Loot has a slightly interesting twist on the PUBG style with chests that spawn in set locations across the map, which contain guns that vary in quality from common to legendary, however when you find a common submachine gun (one of the weaker weapons in the game) in one of these chests, you’re simply hoping your opponents didn’t find something much better in theirs.
Where Fortnite Battle Royale sets itself apart from PUBG or other battle arena type games, is in the ability to build and destroy structures. Some of my most fun and memorable moments playing Fortnite Battle Royale have revolved around this mechanic, whether me and my friends are reigning death with grenade launchers and rockets to try and force our opponents out of the building they’re hiding in, or frantically building walls around us to protect from incoming fire, this is where Fortnite Battle Royale truly shines. Even the structures Epic Games have created themselves can be destroyed in almost their entirety, making no place safe to stay in the entire game. This mechanic creates a brilliant end game dynamic where often teams have built giant fortresses to hold up in, hoping to pick off any players out in the open, but more importantly hoping that their opponents haven’t picked up any heavy ordinance along their way to the end game. This mechanic also creates new dynamics tactically, whether it be making a split second decision to take a fight or build cover, co-coordinating volleys of grenades or rockets to take down an enemy fortress, building a giant staircase to get you a sniper spot on top of a mountain, or even just tearing down a kitchen with your pickaxe to ensure that you have enough materials for your late game fortress, you are given a number of potential ways to win the game.
Being a free-to-play online game, there have been some technical difficulties as I’ve played whether it be items disappearing after being dropped in a confined location, or massive server issues that cause the game to be down for an extended period, Fortnite Battle Royale is not the most polished game yet which is to be expected. But, for a free-to-play game that has far more players than Epic Games expected, the game generally works very well, which is a very impressive achievement. One of the more recent editions to the game is the ability to purchase cosmetics which are currently very expensive, therefore rarely being purchased by players I come across, which adds even more to the unique art style the game has. Epic Games have discussed their plans to add more cosmetics and potentially more maps and weapons in the future which could keep me coming back when the game eventually begins to feel stale, but even without these additions, the game already has a fantastic base to work from, providing me with some of the most entertaining moments I’ve had as a gamer. So before you right off Fortnite Battle Royale as a PUBG clone that is capitalising on another games success, give it a try and you’ll hopefully be pleasantly surprised, as I was.