Fortnite is becoming the most popular game in the world – here’s what makes it so special – article
Fortnite , just like PUBG, is a game in which millions of different situations can occur, but if you jump from the sky aiming straight at the big house located in Loot Lake, it will often happen to relive the same.
Loot Lake is located near the center of the Fortnite map, which means that the floating bus that flies over the island throwing players, has a great chance of passing very close. I find it an irresistible place to head to, because it is an adorable and dilapidated house made of wood and slate, perched on a small mountain of mud and rocks, in the middle of a calm pond. This place conjures up a lot of cute words related to houses: roofs, flagstones, mansions. Actually, I’d love to live there.
However, others also find it irresistible and therefore we have the usual scenario at ?? Groundhog day ?? in which the Loot Lake house is always involved. I parachuted in and, as soon as I get close to the ground, I see that someone else has had the same idea. It almost always happens. What happens next is some kind of unwritten fairness agreement. The person closest to the house will choose where to land even if common sense suggests there are only two points to consider. Then one explores the house and the other the roof and the cozy attic just below, which often contains a precious treasure chest. Coming down from the attic is dangerous and jumping into the garden also has its risks. Climbing up to the attic is generally suicide. And so the person who entered the house is forced to live with the person who took the penthouse thanks to the virtual architecture which, when combined with a couple of good gameplay mechanics, evokes the plausible psychodrama of a good ghost story. As a result, Fortnite sticks a little deeper, each time, into my heart and mind.
But it wasn’t meant to be that way. For years Fortnite has been scrambled and sobbed like a lavish, if particularly hollow, free-to-play project that aimed to blend Minecraft builds into something akin to Gears of War’s Horde mode. Those who tried it, in the period of its development, came back confused and a little sad: so much passion, wit and energy expended, but the pieces simply refused to coincide. It made you think: Minecraft and Horde Mode were great for video games, but they were great for very different games. More simply: why spend time building a beautiful fortress to defend at any cost, which would have disappeared once the match was over, even if it was won?
This all changed with PUBG. Suddenly, Fortnite began to recover millions of players, captured by a hasty PUBG clone. Indeed, it looks terribly like a clone. The outbursts of senseless pre-game violence on a small island a short distance from the real arena; entering the battlefield by moving randomly on the drop zone; the ensuing battle against the other 99 players who were launched with us; the ever-shrinking circle that randomly chooses a portion of the map to go to, making everything else off-limits. An exciting gameplay design, in short, even if it belongs to someone else.
Certainly, in the early days of Fortnite’s reinvention as Battle Royale, it was difficult to load the game and not be slightly disoriented. If you were familiar with PUBG it was something very similar, but in a different territory, to the point of inducing a slight dizziness. No vehicles to own and the speed of walking was different, right? Our character was bigger and his grip on the ground suddenly felt less slippery. The interface has been moved: the health bar can be found there, the updates on the players (DrunkPope shot YungSnackBar) suddenly is here and the simulation of war, dust and devastation has been replaced by a colorful, cartoonish and harmless. A pile of tires that would have been a ‘ cosmetic addition to PUBG panoramas now, jumping on it, launches you in the air with a cartoon BOING. All around, the objects to be collected float on the ground with bright colors that herald their rarity. And you can’t lie down.
Even superficially analyzing it, it is clear that PUBG has done good to Fortnite and not only for the story of the 45 million players, the most played title in the world. The PUBG rules were fundamental for the design, to reorganize a game that was too confusing and filled with fashion elements which, however, refused to combine in the best way, also eliminating the weight of a rambling rewards system, made up of loot boxes. , collectible cards and pots and pans. Fortnite was a game with a lot of nice stuff but destroyed by the huge problem that none of those nice things made any sense. Suddenly, however, it became clear, concise and focused on PvP, wonderfully invigorated by that cycle, by that narrowing circle that remains, to this day, PUBG’s true stroke of genius.
The weird thing, however, is that when you play it, Fortnite doesn’t look much like a clone, in fact, it doesn’t look like PUBG at all. In my first game, days after the mode went online, I jumped into a forest on the corner of the map, wandered around, hit a few trees for no apparent reason, and was sniped by a distant stranger. Far from being a slap-up debut. However I went back again and again. At first I thought it was the map that made me come back there all the time.
The Fortnite designers may have responded to PUBG with opportunism but they have also responded with art and the map undoubtedly proves this. The Battle Royale map is much smaller than PUBG’s but it was also built with very different intentions. The tighter footprint results in the slow transition from one terrain type to another that makes PUBG so innately wild and natural gives way to clusters of neighborhoods that can vary setting quite abruptly. PUBG has the space to increase the slope of the terrain until, incredibly, you realize you are climbing a mountain. Fortnite, on the other hand, relies on small hills that emerge from the ground in compact piles of rocks. Do you want to get to an elevated place? Here’s your chance. Likewise, urban spaces are caricatured glimpses of real real estate: there is the district of skyscrapers, the dilapidated mini market and the hygienic material factory that seem totally disconnected from the panorama around them. And they have been specially designed in this way. While PUBG was developed to be something wild, like being catapulted into a war zone, Fortnite gives more of the feeling of being part of a paintball team locked in a theme park.
More than anything else, actually, the Fortnite map is made up of a series of small movie sets, many of which, like the Loot Lake house, project you into a certain type of situation. Take, for example, the city of skyscrapers, one of the newest introductions people are still trying to get to know. The first impact here is often focused on short-range weapons: pick a roof and hope to find a shotgun before the other players, who have chosen the same roof, do the same (I was late the other day for the shotgun and decided to jump off the roof before being blown up – it was fun, kind of like in the movies). The second step, anyway, after idiots like me got themselves killed
The Fortnite map is full of things like this and the art design, beyond the slanted walls and slanted frames a la Nick Jr, is capable of evoking a surprising range of different atmospheres. One of the reasons why this game keeps pulling me, over and over, is that walking 50 meters into this world will take you somewhere new, passing through a swamp of hollow trees perfect for finding hidden treasure chests all the way to to rolling hills and blue skies straight out of a Windows background. It’s all entirely readable on the fly but also has many dynamic elements like flying butterflies and swaying grass to give you a dangerous panic attack. The designers of this film are also very good with the details that serve solely to make you understand that someone, somewhere, he really cared about the success of everything. The circular stone that is southeast of Tomato Town has a small plaque for visitors that I was so happy to find the other day to stop and look at it long enough to be shot down from a distance (maybe a useful he had it, after all).
Thanks to this richness and joyfulness, Fortnite is a surprisingly great game to watch. You can watch it after being killed, of course, in spectator mode which brilliantly changes alliances when you realize you want to see your killer go all the way to victory. Spectator mode also accidentally reveals the beauty of the Battle Royale genre: it’s a kind of playful Maxwell Devil experiment that slowly brings the best weapons, equipment and best players to lethal proximity. Damn entropy.
You can also play as an observer, hiding in a bush for whole, glorious minutes, wonderfully alone with your sights aimed at that distant light that points to a precious object. You can wait for the right moment to strike or decide not to kill someone just to see what happens a few steps away from you: the illicit pleasures of PUBG elevated to the nth degree by the narrow dimensions of the map and the knowledge that you live side by side with people. you are hunting.
The ability to watch and wait means that, just like in PUBG, poor players like me can, at times, make it all the way to the big final shoot-outs. A kind of patience so strong that sometimes you get to the end with absolutely ridiculous and worthless weapons. In Las Vegas they call it “f *** the deck”: poor players who make life impossible for professionals by making moves so idiotic and rooted in ignorance that even the most experienced have a hard time deciphering and anticipating them. In Fortnite it’s all part of the fun, being the clown hidden at the edge of an epic conflict and, in the meantime, learning a little bit from the players who kill each other. Each of these lessons helps you become better,
What you often see these Fortnite geniuses do is … build. This is Battle Royale’s biggest surprise, arguably, and the most powerful weapon in any discussion of whether battle royale is simply an emerging genre, with each new game making changes to the formula. In the first version of Fortnite, where you generally found yourself defending a point from endless hordes of enemies, the construction element was at the same time very well implemented but quite nonsensical. He was far too rich for the kind of behavior the game required and encouraged. It is almost strange to think, actually, how fortuitous all this has been. As the team put together mechanics that would never be needed in a PvE game,
The construction element therefore works perfectly. This works at the start of games when you’re desperately looking for a treasure chest and you really need to get up to that second floor penthouse if only you have a ramp or some kind of tower; works wonderfully when the arena shrinks and you need to build fortifications; works if you want to quickly take down a small house while flanking an enemy and sniping them; it works even if you’re just following another player’s path, transforming the game from a shooter into exploring a vast crime scene.
I think it works for three main reasons, first of all because it’s a great risk / reward design. In a game that is all about hiding, there are suddenly plenty of good reasons to drop cover and slash down a tree or emerge from the safety of a bush to erect a prominent monument.
Secondly, the construction clashes very brilliantly with the restriction of the playing field: you can fortify yourself in the perfect place but you better understand right away that everything you build will become irrelevant if the game decides to move the action away from the area you currently control. . The construction element, together with the shrinking circle, in fact, works as an additional hand that pushes you. You can miss the moment in more ways than one, in Fortnite: by being trapped behind the storm, surely, but also by hesitating too long in an ideal sniper spot that sooner or later you will have to leave, only to find that, over time you spent waiting, the enemy has built a huge cathedral in which to hide.
The third reason is to be found in the ?? last five minutes of the game ??. Building, in Battle Royale, encourages elegance, true class, all done with the crazy style à la ?? Inception ?? with impossible constructions, stairs that magically land in front of us as we climb them and that little carpenter’s pencil in the hand as our building emerges forcefully from the ground.
Oh, the endings I’ve seen in the last few weeks … the mazes that suddenly pop up, the houses of confusion where duels are fought between corridors and floors full of traps as well as with guns and pump and rocket launchers, the endless ramps towards the sky in what, perhaps, is the distinctive move of Fortnite pro-players. There is something undeniably heroic, not just exhilarating, about seeing someone bravely running skyward creating the path as they climb.
I’ve seen beautiful things in the final minutes of Fortnite games: real, unmistakable beauty in the form of drastic and fatal reversals of the tide of battle. I’ve seen players risk it all by plunging into the buzzing, noisy chaos of the storm only to come back and emerge behind a sniper’s lair. I’ve seen players dig right under enemy strongholds and erupt in a storm of bullets. Last week I saw a player with no shield and very little health left, as his fortress was being torn apart by long range strikes, betting everything on a trampoline that, flying through the clouds, took him to the perfect distance for a shot of rifle to the entrenched enemy.
That’s it, isn’t it? Risking it all for a surprise move, just as the light of hope begins to fade. Put aside strategy and lessons to jump into action. A victory when defeat seemed certain. A drastic and fatal reversal of the fate of the battle.