Release Date: Out Now
Price as of Article: Free to play-Can purchase vanity items in game
Fornite originally started off as a game called Fortnite Save the World which was about mining materials, and looting. Then your aim was to hold off hordes and hordes of undead. While the original concept was okay, when Epic games turned it into a Battle Royale game it took off in a big way. With many now playing the game over differing platforms, even being able to play the full-fat game on mobile phone devices. I had never played the game myself so this was my first experience of it, on the Switch. I was able to play cross platform with another player on the Xbox One. Sadly there is no option to play with friends on the PS4. So is this game worth you hard earned cash? …I mean time? or maybe it’s a bit of both! Let’s find out.
Fortnite is a Battle Royale game and it seems like that term is now being banded around like confetti. This is due to the success of such games like Fortnite and PUBG. Fortnite drops you into a large map from a flying bus. You can sky dive anywhere on the map you see fit but there will be another 99 players doing the same thing all looking for a spot to loot weapons, armour potions, bandages and anything else which can give you an advantage. The aim of the game is to survive and to be the last person standing. How you choose to strategise is, of course, one of the wonderful things about this game.
I chose a more cautious approach, letting many of the players go to the busy areas and taking each other out in gun fights or hitting each other with their pickaxes … always a laugh to see a bunch of people jumping about trying to whack each other with a pickaxe. Once you find a location, you can forage materials; wood, brick and so forth. There are loot crates dotted about the map so you can acquire all manner of weapons from pistols or assault rifles to a sniper, which can give you a massive advantage if you are a good shot. What really sets this game apart is the ability to build structures on the fly. Swap over to the building menu on the right side of the screen and you can whip up walls, staircases, roofs and even set traps if you manage to loot them.
What makes these ‘fight to the death’ matches so addictive and fascinating is if you get killed it is all over so it makes for some really great risk vs reward scenarios. You have to watch out for the storms, stay on the outskirts of the map for too long and after 3 minutes the map starts to shrink with the impending storm. This forces players, sections at a time, to centralise in a random part of the map until it comes to a point, where you end up with what seems like a pin prick, where a few players are left to take each other out until there is only one standing.
There are also other differing modes you can play. Add your friends to the mix in Duo which sees two of you trying to survive versus other Duos in the game, again with 100 players on the map. You can also set up squads of up to 4 players which is great for a team of you to work together and, for varying limited time, you have 50 v 50 and sniper shoot out modes. These modes seem to swap around from time to time so it adds some nice variety to proceedings. 50 v 50 is pretty great as as you can help each other build structures to protect the team. It’s like an all out war and can get really intense. Each man/woman you lose feels like a blow to your army if you will. One of the great things about this is the implemented voice chat where you can plug in a head set to your switch through the 3.5mm jack. There is no need for a mobile phone here and it’s absolutely brilliant that we finally have voice chat properly implemented. It works great between switch players but I had more difficulty trying to chat to someone on Xbox One so not sure if it works cross play properly or not. I don’t see why it shouldn’t.
What is captivating is being able to build a wall in the middle of a fire fight to block incoming bullets or building tower-high structures to get a height advantage. While these buildings stick out like a sore thumb they can also be used as decoys, with players often going in to find a player to kill only for the player to be hiding elsewhere waiting to take the player out from a near by bush. Very clever indeed, and yes I was caught out a number of times like this.
I have to express that the game is superb fun and, especially for a free game, you should definitely give it a go to see if you like it. It is not a pay to win game, which I am very pleased about, instead you can pay for vanity items if you wish, which I personally really could not care less about. For those interested in the items there are all sorts of things you can buy. For example you can buy a Battle Pass for 950V bucks, that equates to about £7,99, which if you get into this game deep you may want to purchase. It allows you to unlock a number of cool vanity items that you would not be able to unlock when playing for free. You can purchase a number of items in the shop and the shop changes daily so there is plenty there to purchase if you so wish and support the developer. I just wanted to play and have fun so not having to pay to win was really good news.
The issue I have playing this on the Switch is due to it running at 30fps which means it’s difficult to be accurate at times. This was noticeable when I played the game on the Xbox One just so I could compare, I was able to be a little more accurate. However nothing beats playing this on the move and having physical buttons is certainly better than playing on a mobile phone or iPad for example.
The other criticisms I have is only having the one map to play on. While this map has quite a few areas and they do add to it occasionally it would be great if more maps were available. I am sure this is something the developer will work on in time. Also controls do take some getting used too especially switching from building to weapons for example.
Players will come across lag from time to time, even if you have great wi-fi, this occurred mostly when I was in handheld mode but it wasn’t frequent in my experience. From a gameplay perspective I enjoyed figuring out all the tactics you can use to survive and, for me, it made the game very compelling indeed. I can see why it is so popular.
The audio in the game is perfect for what it is. There is a nice introductory music track on the title page but what makes this game really good is the lack of music in game and having to listen intently to the smallest sound to hear where other players are located, looting and shooting. It can be a fatal mistake if you start whacking your pick axe in the wrong place whilst gathering materials. Someone may hear you, creep up and you are toast. At times I would be in a building and would hear players shutting and opening doors or other players footsteps so sound is an important part of this game to assist survival. The SFX for the most part is good enough from shooting an assault rifle to your pistol. The guns do sound satisfying.
Visuals & Performance
For many the visuals will not be where they should be on this game. The game has a cartoony look and colours are nice and bright so it makes the game very appealing looking.
In handheld mode while the visuals are fine they compare with playing on an iPad in my opinion and I would expect a little more with the Switch being a dedicated console. With Paladins also being released on the e-shop at the same time having played that game at 60FPS, and it being really smooth, it is a little disappointing that this isn’t running at 60FPS. I can understand that this was most probably sacrificed to optimise performance seeing as there are 100 players able to play at the same time where as a game like Paladins is a 5 v 5 squad based game.
While I am not usually bothered about frame rates it can affect a players performance on the Switch, but then that is the same for any mobile device in my opinion. There is no doubt that playing on PS4, Xbox One and PC is the better experience but then for those, like me, who want a more portable experience then the Switch is the best way to play due to having physical buttons. Docked mode is adequate but again there have been obvious compromises made.
Fortnite is free and is not a pay to win game. Yes, you can buy vanity items if you so wish but you can happily play for nothing. If you purchase the Battle Pass then you will want to complete the Battle Pass challenges to increase your level to unlock the vanity items. The Battle Pass is the most likely item that I would spend the money on to buy in this game.
You can get additional XP and stars by playing with friends more often but even playing solo allows you to gain XP and raise your level in the game. You want to try and get to Tier 100 before the season ends so you can unlock the items in that season. There is plenty of replay-ability to this game whether it’s unlocking vanity items, playing to get better tactically, or just having fun with friends. The developers are continuing to bring in new things and I really believe there is something for everyone here.
Free to play
Addictive and fun
Visually could be better
Lower frame rate can affect accuracy