I didn’t know that I needed Fortnite in my life until E3 2018, where it was “surprise” dropped on Nintendo Switch. It quickly became one of my favorite games on the platform!
After quickly sinking multiple days’ worth of hours into the Battle Royale title, I’ve taken some time to reflect on what makes Fortnite so good. Usually I’m one to ignore what’s popular in the mainstream, but after giving it a fair-shake, I realize that Fortnite earned its spotlight and deserves all the attention it’s getting. Why? Read on…
The Gameplay Loop
Every single match, 100 players fly over an island and skydive down to their desired destination. Everybody starts with nothing, no matter how new or advanced the player, the battle starts on an even playing ground. You feel so vulnerable in those opening moments, with only a pickaxe in hand, and it’s exciting to gather a competent loadout and reassuring to find those much-needed health and shield items.
Depending on your skill level, you might drop right into Tilted Towers, grab a high-powered gun and immediately start fighting for your life. Or if you are more of a beginner, you can paraglide to the farthest reaches of the map where you’re not likely to run into another player for several minutes. Fortnite is constantly presenting the player with risk/reward choices: Should I get a headstart on the storm, or find that treasure chest? Should I drink my shield potion now, or save it for later? Should I fire on that distant enemy, or remain hidden? As you get more comfortable with the game, it becomes very rewarding to take more risks.
The storm is an ever-present factor in Fortnite gameplay. You begin with 100 players on a huge island, but the game intelligently constricts the playspace as users fall one-by-one. You are given brief respites while the storm stands still, and you can use this to explore areas of the map which will soon be shrouded in toxic rain, or you may want to hurry up and get to the eye where you can set camp and stay safe. The storm is constantly drawing combatants together, causing people to be on the move, out in the open, and encountering one another (just like a good Hunger Games gamemaker).
The island has been mentioned a few times, and rightly so: it has a lot of character. New players will be tempted to think that it’s so big and diverse, it must be procedurally generated. But no! While weapon and chest locations are slightly randomized, the team at Epic crafted a huge world with unique locations that blend together seamlessly. Not only that, but the map changes with time. Recently, I was in a squad when the gunfire stopped as everyone watched a rocket launch and tear a crack in the sky dome—a crack that has been spreading ever since. The world feels alive and it’s great to know that the developers are putting continuous effort into a portion of the game that would otherwise become stale.
A quick glance about the gaming industry reveals some split opinions and shady tactics around microtransactions. Especially in online multiplayer shooters, developers and publishers are thinking of very creative ways to nickel-and-dime their playerbase. It was a breath of refreshing air to see that Fortnite only sells aesthetic options like character skins and stylized pickaxes. You can’t pay for an advantage in this game, unlike others where getting killed prompts a pop-up “YourMom64 killed you with a SuperSniper. Would you like to buy a SuperSniper for $2.99?” Fortnite’s doing it right!
Thanks to the compelling gameplay loop, and “one more game” syndrome, you’ll find yourself wanting rematch after rematch. Fortunately, Fortnite makes it all too easy to get in a lobby with 99 other players. Whether you’re playing solo or squadding up with friends—even with crossplay!—the process is painless (which is such a relief to say on a Nintendo platform).
The developers pulled it off! You can literally plug a 3.5mm headset into the Switch and use native, in-game voicechat with your teammates. It’s kind of incredible: no apps, no Wiispeak—just you, your headphones, and the game. That’s what we call “not overcomplicating things!”
There you have it… several reasons why Fortnite is a work of genius. And it’s free, so what are you waiting for? Give it a download and add “Scott TBC” before my wife stages an intervention and pries the Pro Controller out of my hands!