You will have seen the fuss over the weekend with PUBG and Fortnite made by Epic Games. Epic make the Unreal 4 Engine that PUBG is running on and there was a twitter back and forth between the two about many issues. Needless to say, it hasn’t stopped Fortnite releasing its Battle Royale mode to everybody free and standalone of their main game. Is it any good?
The game itself is very simple. Like the classic Japanese movie, a number of people are let loose and the winner is the last man standing. This is, in essence, the battle royale genre and concept. Fortnite does this by floating over one large map in a battlebus giving you one minute to parachute out and land on the island before killing the rest. The genre has been perfected on PC by PUBG so for many this will be the first exposure to the game mode.
There is no denying that the actual mode is very intoxicating. It really is the fight or flight mechanic distilled into a game. Unfortunately playing Fortnite’s version I wish the mechanics were more lifelike. Your character doesn’t have enough movement, they don’t feel agile and the movement around the map feels clunky and cartoonish. Unfortunately, I feel this is an issue because the game gets a lot of other things right.
The feeling you get when playing these games is a strange one only found in certain other games. If you are playing solo the only other games that have this feeling are Call Of Duty and Gears Of War and within these games, it takes certain modes to get the sensation going in your body. It is a mixture of fear, tension, and anger that many people will not actually like to experience. It is akin to being stuck in one of Jigsaw’s traps in the Saw franchise. In call of Duty the search and destroy mode and in Gears, the traditional no respawns team deathmatch had similar feelings when you were last man standing. In Battle Royale games you are always the last man standing.
The typical first experience is landing in the map with no one near you. You slowly begin looking for a weapon other than your standard axe so you can either begin hunting other players or try to survive. This usually leads to your first encounter with another player. I was lucky, I landed on a hill near an assault rifle and was able to shoot an opponent before they could see me. Another first encounter had me walking into a house only to be hit with a shotgun blast from someone sitting in a corner camping. It was visceral and brutal but to be expected. This was a death more akin to PUBG.
Where Fortnite Battle Royale differs is by keeping the construction mechanic from the base game. You can ‘Minecraft’ your way around and get materials allowing you to construct different structures like the main game. In one game I spent too long admiring another players tower he had built up into the sky while the same player was at the very top taking aim with his sniper rifle. Like PUBG this game will very quickly sort out the skilled from the unskilled.
My major issue with the game is the matchmaking process. When you die in PUBG or indeed in any game where death is constant the respawn needs to be instant so as not to detract from playing again. Unfortunately, in Fortnite Battle Royale, the time to get back into a game is far too long. The matchmaking process is quick enough but then there is a period of 90 seconds or so when you get to mess about on the map, presumably when the game is sorting out the 100 player connection. Then you have another loading screen before being back in the battle bus. It’s too long to feel like the stress of the actual game is worth it.
It remains to be seen how this will improve. It does have many exciting elements and it is free so any criticisms are harsh, but when you go up against a cultural gaming phenomenon like PUBG, you have to be perfect.