Epic Games recently released their Battle Royale mode for Fortnite amidst some controversy surrounding its competitor, PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds (PUBG), but is the game actually a worthy competitor to the goliath that is PUBG?
Fortnite Battle Royale brings the 100 player battle royale phenomenon to consoles, in a fun, considerably less stressful format. The game comes presented in Fortnite’s unique, cartoon style and utilises the games building mechanic to further separate it from the pile of Battle Royale titles that have been filling up Steam Early Access for the past couple of years.
The game will feel familiar to those who have played PUBG, with the map scattered with key locations which are guaranteed to secure a speedy death upon landing, as well as the compass you’ve going to get angry at your friends for not using. Pretty standard affair. The game differs in areas apart from art style however, with the game’s core gunplay differing vastly. The game is devoid of any weapon attachments, instead taking on an MMO/RPG style rarity system, with rarer variants of weapons dealing more damage and higher overall stats.
This feature plays out nicely and has you switching weapons throughout the game, as you loot better and better gear. The health and armour also differs. Shield potions replace armour, with the player able to consume 2 potions at a time, for a total of 100% shield health. Healing is taken with Bandages that heal you no further than 75% UP, with the rarer, Health Pack able to heal you up to the full 100% HP.
The element of the game that differs the most is the implementation of the games building mechanic. This ends up changing the run of play a lot more than first thought. Not just used to reach harder to access areas and weapons hidden behind walls, the building, and subsequent destruction mechanic help to alter the very way combat takes place. Players are able to build fortifications providing protection, forcing their enemy to engage in different ways.
The destruction mechanic also greatly changes the field of play. Someone hiding in a building might feel safe, that is until someone gets hold of a grenade and demolishes the floor out from under you. This is amplified when playing with groups, with 4 of you able to build rapidly, and use the building mechanic to grant your team advantages in combat.
A prime example of this was towards the end of a group game, where we found ourselves held down in the prison battling with another group hidden in a fortification they created around a building facing us. It wasn’t until we gained access to an RPG, thanks to a rather useless enemy that had tried his hand at flanking us, that we were able to break the stalemate by removing their fortification. In other titles, this wouldn’t be an option. For one, they couldn’t build around the dilapidated building, granting us an advantage, and neither team would be able to remove the cover of the other. This creates genuinely exciting gameplay, and forces you to think about situations in more creative ways.
The game is fun on your own, but it is when you have a group of friends together, that the game truly comes alive. The tension of Battle Royale titles is still there, but presented in a package that makes it all the more enjoyable without the focus on more realistic gameplay. Fortnite Battle Royale is a fantastic free-to-play title that gives those on console a taste of the Battle Royale phenomenon in a package that is enjoyable, and leaves you wanting to experience the rest.
I know several people that are now greatly looking forward to the release of PUBG on consoles having played this title. Despite the controversy, it seems that Fortnite Battle Royale is actually going to be aiding PUBG in some ways (we covered the controversy in Podcast 35) Is Fortnite Battle Royale going to take PUBG’s crown? No. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has such a following that for any title to overtake its popularity would be a record breaking feat. But Fortnite Battle Royale does stand its own, bringing enough to the table to separate it from the influx of other titles, and stamp its own mark on the genre.