Back in 2017, months before Ninja was streaming Fortnite with Drake and making national news, I was trying out his new Battle Royale mode. The game was extremely simple then compared to anything you can do now, but the basics were solid: shooting was pretty good, building was useful, and destruction was like nothing on its scale.
After a while, a behavior began to emerge that would eventually define how Fortnite is played. Building became less about moving from place to place, and more about quickly constructing elaborate brick and metal towers to confuse enemies and block incoming fire. The firefights stopped looking like two people shooting guns and more like duels of carpentry wizards competing to make the biggest pile of trash.
Basically, I put down Fortnite when it started to look like this.
Source: galaxy clips on Youtube
This week Epic removed casual mode building from Fortnite, so I brought it back. Holy shit: I think Fortnite is finally really good?
Playing Fortnite without building immediately feels different in some ways. The most obvious change is that when I shoot someone, their first reaction isn’t to cower in a tower of sticks and bricks. In fact, they must turn around and fight back! Sometimes I hit more shots, sometimes they hit more shots, it’s great. I’ve only been playing for a few nights and have already had fun, endless fights with what I’m pretty sure are real players (there have been lots of bots too).
No buildings also made fighting in buildings a bit more exciting, at least for a less experienced player like me. You can still destroy anything with your harvesting tool, but now the damage is permanent. I got into the habit of knocking down construction walls trying to flush out the enemies inside, like I was Sledge in Rainbow Six Siege. I also appreciate that without three different building materials, the loot clutter on corpses is much more manageable.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best part. To complement this no-build test, Epic has also added new mobility features and a health boost. Players now run faster by default and can sprint in short bursts. I love Fortnite’s sprint, partly because the animation has a lot of personality and detail, but also because it drastically reduces the time I spend through grass fields. Ditto for the new slide and cloak abilities taken straight from an FPS – navigating Fortnite’s colorful towns and hills is now easy and fun.
The new move suite, which I think Epic plans to keep even after this temporary no-build event ends, raises some interesting questions about the game going forward. Building was once required to move around the map, but Epic has essentially engineered its way now. I don’t need stairs to reach a second-story rooftop when I can hold the spacebar to grab a ledge and pull myself up. When it comes to more extreme maneuvers, tools like grappling hooks, ziplines, launch pads, and bouncing Spider-man webs provide more than enough opportunity to get high.
Frankly, there’s so much going on on the Fortnite map already that I’m amazed anyone could concentrate long enough to build an intricate tower. Over the past few nights of matches I’ve fought AI soldiers in an airship, launched myself from a cannon, driven a car which I then upgraded with huge tires, j blew up a tank and pursued a dozen quests that have nothing to do with the current battle royale mode.
When it comes to battle royale, I think the build can be done safely, and Epic seems to agree. Fortnite dataminers recently uncovered evidence to suggest that Epic is in fact planning to keep non-building as a permanent mode.
At the same time, I’m really happy that Fortnite as a whole is being built, as it’s responsible for all of the amazing custom game modes that live outside of the main playlist. Last night I took a break from BR and found myself in an open world snowboarding game. After that, I checked out Fortnite’s very good take on prop hunting.
I’m also glad that those who still want to play Fortnite with the utter chaos of its construction can still do so. It’s such a built-in mechanic that to excise it completely would immediately alienate players who spent much of their childhood mastering the art of building eight walls, climbing a window in the corner, and shooting someone. one through. The respect. While you do this, I’ll be there playing my version of Fortnite.