Fortnite is a survival shooter. Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead, and it didn’t really appear on my radar till it started making headlines for ‘accidentally’ activating PS4 cross play. They then created their own version of ‘Battle Royale’. 5 months later, and it’s still going strong! Let’s go for a ride on Fortnite Battle Royale’s battle bus.
For those not familiar with the ‘battle royale’ game style, it’s a last man standing deathmatch that’s been made incredibly successful by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. If you haven’t checked out PUBG or aren’t familiar with this style of game, it’s well worth reading my review on PUBG here first. In short, outlast 100 other people, by hiding, shooting or hacking your way to victory.
I’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room. At first glance, it would appear that Fortnite’s Battle Royale is just a cartoony copy of PUBG. And it is that, but it’s also more. The same way that two burgers made from roughly the same ingredients could taste quite different. If you’ve been on PS4 and have been lusting after PUBG, don’t worry, you’ll get the most important good bits.
For those new to the genre, the game takes place on an island and you start the game by skydiving in. After that you’re free to roam wherever you want in your bid for self preservation, but the game keeps things frenetic by placing a circle on the map and forcing you to move inside it. Not making it to the circle within a certain time drains your health. The circle gets smaller and smaller as it pushes the lucky survivors to an action-packed crescendo which happens around 30 minutes into the game.
I spoke of how the game differs from PUBG and the first major change when you log in is the graphics. Had Blizzard developed PUBG, this is what we’d have. World of Warcraft meets H1Z1. The second major change is that everything is a bit more simple. The map is smaller… Weapons don’t have mods… There’s no first person… You can’t go prone… The list continues. For this review, I’ll largely be focusing on how the game compares to PUBG, but fear not, I’ll also speak about it from a fresh perspective for those that haven’t played PUBG.
The last and likely the biggest difference other than aesthetics is that the game incorporates Fortnite’s building system. Want to get up a cliff? Build some steps. Want to create a shield? Build a wall. (Trump would be so excited…). This change adds an interesting element to the game and makes it play quite differently to the sneaking and sniping in PUBG. You can’t really hide that you’ve just built a 4 storey fort…
Visually, the game is beautiful. Sure, it’s cartoony, but it has charm. No one plays Overwatch for it’s photo realistic graphics, yet it does alright. Trees, grass, water, it all looks great and most importantly, runs like a dream on my 1080, with the graphics being maxed out at 3440×1440.
The same can be said for the sound. Everything sounds great and has real polish, which shouldn’t really be surprising as it’s Epic that’s behind the game. The sound was one of my gripes with PUBG and I’m happy to say I haven’t had similar complaints in Fortnite.
The loot works a little differently than PUBG. It’s more World of Warcraft than it is CS:GO, with glowing items scattered across the map that range in rarity from common (grey) to legendary (Orange). The more rare, the better the stats and some rare guns have addons, like scopes. The general rule of thumb is, more buildings = more loot and it’s still a mad rush to pick up loot before your opponents do.
There’s notably less inventory juggling here as you have five inventory slots, which are shared by guns and healing or shielding items and it’s pretty simple. You also have 3 resources, bricks, wood and steel, that you use to build structures. There are no weapons mods or body armour to worry about, so you simply need to manage the 5 slots, which is almost certainly aimed at making things easier on consoles.
Given the game is mostly about shooting your enemies, we should talk about the guns. The guns in the game include pistols, an SMG, shotguns, a burst fire rifle, an automatic rifle and sniper rifles. My favourite has to be the no scope hunting rifle. I’ve said the game is a bit simpler than PUBG and that’s also true when it comes to these guns. There’s no fiddling with attachments as guns are used as is.
The guns feel good, but definitely feel more arcade like than the ones in PUBG. There’s a noteworthy lag when shooting the assault rifle at distance and it’s not like the instant response you get in PUBG, but again, this is a different game with a different feel to it. I tried it with a controller and that too felt good, so I think this will play quite well on PS4.
My preference so far has been to hunt for a scoped assault rifle or sniper rifle and back that up with a shotgun. The latter is usually one of my least favourite guns in shooters, but I’ve found them to be great here, even at medium range.
I’ve spent a good amount of time with the game now and I can say it’s a lot of fun. It takes what’s great about PUBG but then adds a few solid differences, which really, make it play quite differently. It’s got a smaller map and you can build big structures, neither of which are particularly geared toward a stealthy game, so I’ve definitely found myself being a lot more brave in Fortnite BR than I have in PUBG.
When I first reviewed Fortnite Batle Royale back when it first launched, I said this: If I was to pick at where I think it could improve, I’d like it to push the envelope a bit more. Add something new rather than just copying an existing game. This is especially relevant, because this game lacks some of the adrenaline fueled tension that PUBG has. I haven’t once felt on edge in Fortnite BR, which is how I feel for an entire game of PUBG. That feeling is what keeps me coming back, so this runs the risk of becoming boring quite quickly.
Looking back now, I’m happy to say that Epic have done just that and put a lot of work into the game by releasing regular updates with new content to keep things engaging. These include epic new weapons like the silenced pistol and the minigun, and game modes like a chaotic 50v50 mode. To top this off they’re also constantly working on the map and have just rolled out an update in January that add tons of new areas, like the underground mine, which adds a new close range element to the game.
On top of this, they’ve added lots of cosmetic skins for everything from your character, backpack, glider and even your harvesting pick. Let’s also not forget those sick dance move emotes that you’ll want to bust out for that death cam when you get your victory royale.
With all the hard work that Epic are putting into the game, it’s hardly surprising that it’s doing so well. Luckily for Epic, Youtubers like Muselk and Crayator creating really compelling content in Fortnite Battle Royale, that makes you want to get in-game yourself. If Epic keeps bringing us interesting updates, I can only see this going from strength to strength.
Ultimately, if PUBG is sleeping in the pitch dark, Fortnite Battle Royale is sleeping with a night light. Similar experience but a lot easier on the nerves. If you’re on PS4 and new to the genre, you’ll love this.