My most recent post was about Minecraft, a game with massive popular appeal that I was able to appreciate but didn't fall in love with. This week I played some of the free-to-play game Fortnite, another game that's gotten hugely popular. I took a look because it was just released on Switch, and I wanted to see what the hype was about.
In what is probably another example of a video game generational divide, I had a similar reaction to Fortnite as I did to Minecraft. In both cases I can definitely see why they're popular, but they just weren't really my type of game. In the case of Minecraft I'm just not very interested in the building aspects, which is the central mechanic of the game. In the case of Fortnite, I feel like the pace of each battle is pretty ho-hum. I like the battle royale concept in general, and this is the first game like this that I've played. There are different options of how a battle's 100 players get divided up: every player for her or himself, duos, squads of 4, or 50 versus 50. The 50v50 mode is a good way to learn the ropes, but without any coordination amongst your team it's pretty chaotic.
The 4v4 mode seems the most fun as when playing casually there isn't too much pressure on an individual, and I can see the game being pretty fun with an 8 player 4v4 match with friends. I found playing solo to be pretty boring, though. I suppose the release on Switch brought in a ton of new players all at once, and in the squad battles I played I was often fighting with people who were even more new to the game than I and who got killed pretty quickly. But even regardless of that, I found the game's elements to be fun but at odds with the battle royale format, which makes sense if you keep in mind that this was a mode released after the original story mode (nowadays called "Save the World" to distinguish from the BR mode). For example, collecting materials and crafting defensive buildings is a good concept and makes perfect sense in the story mode, which pits you against waves of enemies. In the BR mode, though, it ends up being mostly used to throw up quick shields rather than forts or quickly creating ramps to get to higher places, and this type of scattershot crafting on the fly just didn't feel like much fun to me.
The actual combat is also pretty lame as well. In the story mode you can lay traps and experiment with different types of weapons, but in the BR mode shooting at a distance is extremely difficult unless you're using a gun with a scope or something with a huge blast radius like a rocket launcher. The lack of being able to aim well makes more sense if you consider it was designed for the story mode, where you're mowing down zombies who presumably don't really attack back much. So for the vast majority of each battle you're just running around and collecting a big arsenal of materials and guns, only a tiny fraction of which you'll really end up using. Encounters with enemy players usually end in seconds and aren't nearly as satisfying as in regular FPSes where you can quickly get back into the action by either respawning or starting a new battle.
Reading through comments online it seems like I'm definitely the only person turned off by the fact that for every battle most of the time there's nothing really going on. The BR mode has only been out for about nine months, and since it's been so popular it'll be interesting to see if the developers add modes to make it more fast paced (a smaller starting area would definitely help). I probably won't touch this again unless a group of people I know are playing, but I'll be keeping an eye out for updates that might fix some of the issues I have with the game. I can't say I'm that interested in the story mode, but it's co-op so if it ever came to Switch I'd be open to trying it out.
Survive these Minecraft links:
- Trailer of the Switch version
- Intro to the game at Nintendo's E3 2018 Treehouse Live
- Entry on the Battle Royale mode on Wikipedia
- Review at NintendoLife