Backlog Slog – Fortnite Battle Royale

So last time I talked about the paid Save The World portion of Epic’s worldwide hit, Fortnite. To save you reading all of it, I really liked it and thought it was brilliant. I still do! But I figured reviewing half a game doesn’t make a lot of sense so I decided to dive in to the free portion, the one that’s taken the world by storm and that I probably don’t even need to ‘review’ so to speak.

Battle Royale games have taken the world by storm and Fortnite in particular seems to have a special place in most peoples hearts. I guess the combination of ‘free’, ‘building stuff’ and ‘funny dances’ seems to be some kind of goldmine. I was at the supermarket the other day and heard some kids talking about it. I later heard adults talking about it, but not in terms of their kids playing it, but they themselves were playing it.

It was also around that time that I said ‘well, okay then, I guess I might as well’ and dived in.

So.

For those few people that aren’t aware, a Battle Royale style game is 100 players thrown into a map and told to kill each other until there’s only one left standing. You know, like that Japanese novel, Battle Royale which was turned into a movie which then got ripped off into Hunger Games which then got turned into PUBG and then this. Anyway. You get dropped into the map and then have to scramble to find weapons, of which there are different types. Automatic weapons, rocket launchers, melee weapons, pistols, etc. Run around and kill people as the map gets smaller to force you into conflict. Fairly standard stuff.

You can also use a pickaxe to break down the materials of the world. And this is where what makes it unique comes in. Break down a few trees to gain wood, use that wood to build a small fort to protect yourself or stairs to gain height on your opponent. Being good at shooting people is only half the game, you gotta be good at building, too. It’s the difference between life and death in most cases.

Which is why I died. A lot. My Save The World building skills do not translate well into this environment.

My games usually went like this: Drop in, run around, pick up a few guns, kill one or two people if I’m lucky and then die. I’d make the top 50 or so. So I changed my strategy. Drop in, run around, get a few guns and then hideĀ  somewhere until everyone had killed each other. Using this method I managed to get into the top 10 a few times, so I think there’s something to that.

Though there are also team based modes. For example, duos is… A duo. Two people. And squads allows for five people. I tried squads a few times which was interesting, I had 10-13 year olds directing me over mic and telling me how to play. And I did indeed listen to them because they’re the ones that play it, not me. Also it’s weirdly endearing seeing kids so into teamwork and squad based gameplay, or any gameplay, honestly. Those kids built the hell out of some defenses and I felt bad letting them down being bad at video games.

There’s also a 50v50 mode, which is a great way to learn the ropes as you have 49 other teammates, meaning it’s more likely you’ll stay alive and score kills and all that kind of thing.

Also there’s skins and dances and a lot of things that don’t appear in the Save The World mode. Mostly the dances, which people seem all too happy to do at you while you wait in the ingame lobby. It’s kind of endearing, honestly, seeing everyone in a weird virtual rave. I also understood where a lot of the dances people are doing IRL come from now. I get it! I feel relevant and included.

If you’re wondering what else there is to keep you in the game, there’s ‘seasons’ which come with each numbered patch update (4.0, 5.0. etc.). These include challenges to make kills with specific weapons or gather things in the map, which in turn reward the player with skins, in-game currency, or the dances as mentioned above that are honestly delightful. Of course, it costs in-game currency (bought with real money) to buy into the season and its challenges. Which I managed to do for free because the Save The World portion awards a ton of in-game currency.

So. Fortnite is something I can absolutely understand the popularity of. It’s fast paced and unique, offering something different to other Battle Royale titles. It was also PUBG’s only real competitor before other titles slowly began to flood the market. And, the biggest factor, it’s free!

It also kind of makes me feel old because I was consistently teamed with kids. But it was pretty cool, seeing them so excited about video games.

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