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Fortnite: Battle Royale Review - Laying The Foundation

  • First Released Dec 31, 2015
  • Reviewed Apr 9, 2018
  • PC

Build yourself up to tear them down.

For a game that was long in development as a cooperative horde-based shooter, the conspicuous and relatively quick addition of battle royale to Fortnite seemed to be a move to capitalize on a trend. However, its seemingly simple building system and loose shooting mechanics not only set it apart from other games built on the same premise, but work extremely well to make a uniquely chaotic and surprisingly deep deathmatch experience.

Everything about Fortnite's presentation emits a lighthearted tone. You start a match by jumping out of a party bus held up by balloons that flies across the game's massive map. Weapons, ammo, and health items litter its silly-named cities, all using alliteration--Tomato Town, Moisty Mire, Tilted Towers, to name a few. Even enemies don't really die; they're teleported away after getting knocked out. Valuable loot is found inside pinatas called supply llamas, for crying out loud. Players throw up basic structures formed out of thin air and firearms brightly express their trajectory. But don't let that first impression fool you; the further you get into a match, the more you see how Fortnite's gameplay elements have to be used in clever and complex ways to emerge victorious.

Unique to Fortnite is a streamlined building system comprised of four components: walls, ramps, floors, and roofs. These are constructed with three different types of materials that you either mine with a pickaxe or scavenge across the map; wood, stone, and metal each have their own properties in terms of durability and build speed. You can further modify structures to have windows and doors. It seems convoluted, but thanks to snappy grid-based layouts and the intuitive control scheme, getting the hang of building isn't much of a hurdle.

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At first glance, it's as if Fortnite's original Save The World mode had its mechanics haphazardly dropped into the 100-player last-person-standing premise. But this is the foundation that makes for a myriad of tactical possibilities, like creating a sky-high staircase to climb a mountain to get the higher ground or swiftly fabricating your own cover as you run across an open field to close in on opponents. Literally, bridging the gap between mountains can turn long-range shootouts into close-quarters brawls. Fortnite's dynamic building system always gives you the opportunity to improvise, even when you think your back is against the wall.

For example, players will often shield themselves with structures that act as makeshift bunkers. To undercut that, you could put the pressure on them by constructing your own set of ramps leading into their territory to force a fair fight and eliminate an otherwise well-protected enemy. In these moments, the intrinsically rewarding nature of Fortnite shines through. Conflict isn't just about landing a precise shot or spotting the enemy first; quick wit and improvisation with the given toolset put you in a position to create your own path to success. Eliminations and victories feel very much earned, especially because the late-game often consists of which player or squad has the best architectural acumen in the ever-changing safe zones.

While construction is imperative for victory, so is destruction. Every object in the world of Fortnite can be destroyed. Even as players create their own formidable defense, no one is ever safe for long in battle. A well-placed rocket or remote explosive can quickly dismantle a large, complex fort; if a multi-story tower doesn't have a strong foundation, blasting it from underneath will bring those up high back down to earth. Even a subtle tactic like breaking down a single wall and throwing up a ramp to infiltrate in an imposing fort can prove just as effective.

Approaches to combat also rely on the weapons you scavenge. A typical arsenal made up of rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, and pistols have colored tiers to indicate varying levels of power and rarity. Each gun has a sensible use-case, however, traps and explosives mix things up a bit. This is another aspect in which Fortnite diverges from many other battle royale games; shooting is fast and loose, akin to an arena shooter. Mid-range firefights and close-quarters combat feel more like a fatal dance in and around the structures plopped into the environment. Bunnyhopping with a tactical shotgun is common at close range and spraying assault rifles is standard operation. Fortnite isn't a tactical shooter in the traditional sense, but offers its own bevy of strategic options to keep players on their toes.

Enemy engagement still carries the risk you expect from games of this ilk by nature of having one life per match and the relatively quick time-to-kill. Even after downing a Chug Jug for full health and shield, well-placed shots from a legendary or epic weapon will make short work of anyone. However, the brisk pace at which matches move trades unnerving tension for a higher frequency of action. Yet, as with any battle royale game, looting for resources sits at the core of matches and eats up much of your time. The system in place for loot and resource gathering is efficient, but it grows tiresome after consecutive matches as swinging the pickaxe at trees and houses for necessary materials grows increasingly repetitive.

Another area in which Fortnite is a bit thin is in its map design, a shortcoming that's twofold. The sprawling lone map features a variety of cute, thematic areas: Its metropolis of Tilted Towers and suburbs of Pleasant Park contrast the swamps of Moisty Mire and the countryside of Anarchy Acres. Regardless, there's a feeling many of the map's landmarks lack sophistication in physical layouts and density in loot placement. To its credit, the map's verticality brings the best out in your construction abilities, but city centers like Tomato Town have little to work with when two squads land in the area. A slightly more intricate town like Snobby Shores is sometimes devoid of useful items. It'd be easier to overlook this if you didn't have to trek across to a nearby town on foot that's likely to have been looted, but such is the case.

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In just about half a year, Epic has demonstrated strong support with a consistent rollout of new content. Those who have been playing the game are aware of the limited-time modes that put a slight twist on the standard mode. Snipers-only or explosives-only matches have added a neat touch, but past modes like 50v50 or Teams of 20 do much more to change Fortnite's pace and open up new ways to play the game. If that's any indication, Fortnite could have plenty more to offer as it evolves further.

This is a free-to-play game, so you should be aware that it sustains itself through microtransactions. A $10 Battle Pass opens a slew of skins to earn and provides new goals to work towards. It's a reasonable system in that these objectives reward you with cosmetic items that visibly pop within Fortnite's bright art style. There's nothing to infringe on how the game plays, thankfully. If you wish to engage in making your pickaxe to look like a toy, don seasonal outfits, or get the latest viral dance as an emote, you either put in the time to earn it or shell out money for the game's V-Bucks.

While there are several moving parts in the game's ecosystem, Fortnite's biggest accomplishment is in how it seamlessly merges a number of simple mechanics to create a distinguishable battle royale game. What looks to be a straightforward building system steadily escalates to an elaborate display of tactical prowess. As the saying goes: It's easy to learn, hard to master. Although a few shortcomings in the map design eventually surface and fatigue in looting can set in, Fortnite rarely fails at challenging you in unexpected ways, resulting in something more than just another typical last-person-standing shooter.

Back To Top
The Good
Intuitive building mechanics help transcend the core tenets of the genre
Late-game constantly presents unexpected challenges that make victory rewarding
Updates and timed events keep the game fresh
The Bad
Resource-gathering and map traversal grows tiresome after several consecutive matches
Main towns feel somewhat bare
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Michael has completed a battle royale trifecta having reviewed PUBG, H1Z1, and now Fortnite. He was totally on that wave before everyone else (pinky up) with early ARMA mods and H1Z1: King of the Kill. He put over 40 hours in Fortnite: Battle Royale for review, and a majority of that time was spent on the PC version, although time went into the PS4 and Xbox One versions as well. He provided his own copy of the game, since it's free.
41 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for henriquembp

The game is THRILLING.

I have played 2.628 matches, since january. I don't get it when people say it's only fun for a short time.

It's fast paced, with great fights and very skill rewarding.

There's a learning curve regarding the building part, but it keeps getting better when you improve it.

The excitment of your first victory is unforgetful.
Every match is random, you never know what to expect from it, always a different challenge.

The game is updated weekly, it's always fresh. There's always something new in the map.

I respect PUBG and H1Z1 (the ones i played), but this game is better in so many ways.

Avatar image for Ride_Tha_Tiger

I get the appeal, but it does become monotonous if you play for extended periods of time. But that’s just me.

Avatar image for livedreamplay

I can't get myself to like these types of games for more than a few hours. After you do it 5-10-15 times, it's just the same thing over and over.

Avatar image for atornsock

Idk, man. The only victory screenshot I see is with your 13 other teammates. The other 2 teams of 15 probably killed each other off anyways.

Avatar image for bayernshark

F this game

Avatar image for ormgaard

And no mention of Epic Games nonexitant customer support! for that alone i would only give the game a 4

Avatar image for cejay0813

It's fun but I do like PUBG better. The idea of fabricating cover on the fly although cool, grows tiresome and feels cheap at times.

Avatar image for Alucard_Prime

@cejay0813: I know what you mean, I loved the PVE mode of Fortnite, but I had a hard time getting into the BR mode, this quote from the review is how I feel about it, I guess I have to play it more to give it another chance

"At first glance, it's as if Fortnite's original Save The World mode had its mechanics haphazardly dropped into the 100-player last-person-standing premise. "

Avatar image for bongaconga

Done watching after 7 seconds.

Avatar image for Litchie

This game was pretty fun for 5-10 hours. Now moving on to other games.

Avatar image for Ride_Tha_Tiger

@Litchie: My thoughts exactly.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ad5af79a96e8

Kind of worth a mention, that those of us that originally bought Fornite bought an entirely different game. I didn't buy a Battle Royale game, I thought I was getting a co-op base building/defence type of game. Game has morphed into something it was not suppose to originally be overall. Not saying that is a bad thing, just saying the game has gone off on a major tangent.

Avatar image for boodleout

"Main town feels bare." Where the frick do these reviewers come from?

Another generic 8 score.

This game definitely deserves better.

Avatar image for Litchie

@boodleout: Well, if Fortnite's review is based on the BR mode, I think a 6 or 7 would be more appropiate. One map. A game needs a little bit more than that, imo. It's still like an early access game.

Avatar image for AlabamaFan92

@boodleout: it's why they are called 8spot

Avatar image for LethalBurst

Why is a game that's still in early access (albeit a very polished one) getting reviewed?

That being said, Fortnite Battle Royale is one of the best PvP shooters I've ever played.

Avatar image for Litchie

@LethalBurst: Let alone, why does it get a fucking 8? Devs don't need to finish their games anymore? Great.

Avatar image for darkelf83

@LethalBurst: I guess along the same line of thought that got PUBG into the game awards even though it hadn't released yet either. Early Access is not a release but they do not seem to care anymore.

Avatar image for cejay0813

@darkelf83: I think it's a marker for a game that can stand on it's own. I'm curious to see what a full release of PUBG would look like. How many of those big expansive maps can the incorporate in a final build? Would there be other traditional game modes? I'm curious to see what a 50v50 team deathmatch or CTF match on a partition of a map would look like.

As it stands now, people are getting a lot of enjoyment out of these "samples" so hey, why not review them as they are now.

Avatar image for darkelf83

@cejay0813: The PC version of PUBG released on the 20th of December. You got 2 maps. Now they've added another game mode and are working on more maps post release. My issue is that the game awards specifically state that a game must release before the 17th of November, which it didn't.

I've nothing against the reviews, just call it like it is, an early access review and hit it up again on release. They can even compare the two versions. If they're going to be in beta this long then a review does kind of make sense.

Avatar image for spartanx169x

Isn't this still in beta as of yesterday? If so WHY would you review it now. do you really need the clicks? There is still lots of potential content that could and may be added. Such as a mode where no building is allowed(which I'm begging for ), and or making explosives a permanent gametype choice as well as Snipers a permanent choice. Then of course there are maps that I'm sure will come. Then ultimately the nerf of the guided rocket. You know thats going to happen.

Avatar image for AlabamaFan92

@spartanx169x: Technically just the single player/coop is in beta

Avatar image for needhealing

Love this game and I usually dislike multiplayer games. Great art, tons of fun and the fort building mechanic is awesome.

Avatar image for videogameninja

Despite a general apathy towards this game by many on the various video gaming sites and communities I think it goes without saying that this title as well as PUBG have been dominating the gaming media by storm.

Irregardless of the waves of criticism hurled it's way there is more than likely a reason for boths continued success and in the latter's case I think it has to do with something more than the game model being offered.


Avatar image for lucidique

I wish the game would have a mode where the building mechanics are stripped out.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

@lucidique: They do -- it's called PUBG.

Avatar image for cejay0813

@Pyrosa: But I'd definitely be interested in playing Fortnite without the building mechanics for it's gameplay. PUBGs downside is that it can appear rather dull. Fortnite has the fun and vibrant look about it that draws you in.

Avatar image for lucidique

@Pyrosa: There are big differences between the two, even if you take out the building component.

Avatar image for storyisgood

@lucidique: With due respect of your opinion , I think that it would be very easy to die if someone attacked you from behind in a mode like that.

Avatar image for lucidique

@storyisgood: At least all matches would not end the same, which i believe would be a serious step up from what we currently have : Fortnite SimTower Shooty McSnipe.

At any rate, just my opinion.

Avatar image for cejay0813

@lucidique: I agree, far too many matches boil down to a set of individuals who set up forts and snipe

Avatar image for AlabamaFan92

@lucidique: The building aspect is what makes the endings vary. I like to rush someone's tower and build a structure connected to theirs

Avatar image for lucidique

@AlabamaFan92: Opinions.

At any rate, there is no doubt a lot of people agree with you, as the game has become so popular.

Avatar image for AlabamaFan92

@lucidique: Hey a LTM of no building wouldn't hurt. What I like about the building aspect most is you can make a bad end zone a bit better. With pubg, you are stuck with the situation you are given. Everyone prone in grass at the end lacks fun and variety.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

@nibbin1191: EXACTLY. The game is damned impressive now. It's what Density wishes it was.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1

@nibbin1191: I keep hearing this. I really need to try it out.

Avatar image for the-games-masta

@nibbin1191: if I could use one word to sum up this game, tat would be it. You got it!

Fortnite More Info

  • First Released Dec 31, 2015
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 4 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    In Fortnite, players and their friends lead a group of Heroes to reclaim and rebuild a homeland that has been left empty by a mysterious darkness only known as “the Storm.”
    Average Rating193 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Fortnite
    Developed by:
    Epic Games
    Published by:
    Epic Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Koch Media, Gearbox Publishing, Sony Interactive Entertainment
    Shooter, Tactical, Third-Person, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.