Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery which is why the new Fortnite game mode ‘Battle Royale’ is bloody brilliant.
Fortnite is a funny old game. It’s a colourful third-person shooter with deep building mechanics in which players build forts to defend from hordes of the games multiple zombie-like equivalents named ‘Husks’.
The game is set to become free to play in 2018 but currently is a game you pay to play in closed beta. It’s the only beta we know where you can go to a game shop and purchase a full-fledged copy of the game even though it’s technically not finished.
The game already relies heavily on its free to play model with a loot crate system, which aren’t actually crates but colourful and aptly named ‘Llama Piñatas!’
I bought the game and honestly barely touched it since the games heavy reliance on grinding and random nature of the gear drops in the Llama Piñatas.
Created by Gears of War veterans Epic Games a horde mode based game wasn’t a surprise, what was a surprise was when they recently announced ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’.
Any gamer who hasn’t been living under a rock the past few years will be familiar with Battle Royale games. Taking inspiration from the film of the same name or more recently The Hunger Games films. The mode has become the new ‘in thing’, the reinvention of the team deathmatch.
Typically pitting players in a survival of the fittest deathmatch where you start with limited or no supplies and must scavenge the local area, usually an island, gear up and prepare to fight off to be the last man standing.
The game most popular in the Battle Royale genre is Player Unkown’s Battlegrounds which is not only the most popular in its genre but also one of the most played games on PC. The title achieved a record of over 1 millions concurrent players.
Epic Games’ creative director Donald Mustard announced the mode via a short video shared to their social media streams and flat out said they were huge fans of the genre and its biggest hitters; PUBG and H1Z1 King of the Kill.
The mode although not perfect, as it’s still in beta, is a refreshing twist with the help of Fortnite’s suite of building mechanics.
Players start the round in a loading area waiting for the match to start and fill up, as it’s 100 players per game, then instead of jumping out a helicopter onto the killing floor below they are carried in a big blue school bus afloat with the help of a big balloon, which is in keeping with the games fun, quirky aesthetic. You then jump out and instead of parachuting use a glider to well, glide to your chosen landing zone.
After that, the game is afoot.
‘Loot, shoot and survive’ are the orders of the day with players revelling the tense moment to moment uncertainty of what lies around the next corner or in the next house or the next gas station.
Admittedly it’s all standard fare for the genre but the big selling point is it’s the first of its kind on console and it has pipped PUBG to the post being available on Xbox One and PS4 right now. Of course, The Culling is on Xbox One but that game has more of reliance on melee combat and weapons other than straight up shooting.
As a huge shooter player, I am quite frankly in my element and have played nothing else since its arrival. A testament to the genre, the mode is adequately tense, thrilling and frustrating all at once as you try to best the other 99 players while finding the best gear, getting the most kills and avoiding the ever-encroaching storm.
The game’s main differentiator is it’s building options as with the correct resources player can assemble walls and other structures on the fly. Which makes for interesting moments where players can and will build obstacles to avoid taking fire to give them precious seconds to heal or retreat and it makes no two games feel the same.
Guns are handily coloured by rarity; green being good, blue being better and purple being best. Though I do wish this was reflected on the gun visually as a determiner of what you’re up against. As rarer versions of the same gun naturally do more damage per shot and you’re never quite sure why you were killed in one shot or five some of the time.
Similarly, when someone has armour as well as full health, you can’t tell by their appearance. It would be helpful if they maybe had a bulletproof vest on to show this or maybe your hit marker colour be blue to show you’re doing damage to armour first. These are but early day niggles and teething problems sure to be addressed in a later update. And to be frank, it hasn’t hampered my enjoyment of the 30 or so hours I’ve put in over the last 4 days, much to the dismay of my partner.
I will admit the player base will likely drop when PUBG releases on Xbox One. But if you’re looking for that fix on console now, it’s here. It’s like if Battlegrounds and Sunset Overdrive had a baby and somehow it wasn’t weird.
Also, there’s no real prize for winning other than bragging rights. As all you receive in-game is an umbrella, so that you may float down to the map in style at the start of a round like the dystopian Mary Poppin’s you are. But if that’s not worth the price of entry alone, I don’t know what is!
Battle Royale will be free to play from 26th separate from the base game, arriving on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.