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Free to play
Cross-platform play supported
Seasonal reward system
Lots of fun cosmetics, both free and paid
Consistent updates keep gameplay fresh
Somewhat repetitive gameplay
While Fortnite may have started as an experiment by Epic Games, its Battle Royale mode has since morphed into a global sensation thanks to its striking colors, exciting mechanics, and willingness to continue to reinvent itself season-to-season. It’s a fantastic free to play game with lasting potential.
With over 250 million players, Fortnite’s Battle Royale is a third-person shooter that has taken the world by storm—and for good reason. Its vibrant colors, memorable animations, and constant updates serve to keep gameplay fresh for returning players, but remain stable enough so as not to disrupt new players’ experiences.
Fortnite is plot light, a battle royale designed like the Hunger Games in that it drops players onto a map with one singular goal: survive to the end of the match and be the only player, or squad, left standing. Instead of a continuous story mode, players experience dramatic shifts in the game mechanics and the map season-to-season.
These include new explorable areas, changes to existing areas, weapon buffs, and new in-game mechanics, such as fishing or the addition of boats. Past seasons have included airplanes, snowboards, mechs and more—so who knows what future seasons will hold. The Battle Royale mode can become a little repetitive over time, but that's why new seasons are important. They change up the pace of the game and reinvigorate the interest of players. The one guarantee is that each new season brings change, and with the dawn of Chapter 2, it’s clear that Epic Games hasn’t lost their touch for re-imagining their game.
To win the Victory Royale, players compete solo, with a partner, or in squads of three to four people. Games are quick, lasting anywhere from 15-20 minutes once you get the hang of things, although it’s always possible to die earlier. The game starts by placing 100 players on Spawn Island while it queues up the teams. Once ready, everyone on the island is transported onto a Battle Bus which floats over the Fortnite map, allowing players to leap down and begin their quest to the top.
What’s better—not only is the Battle Royale mode free, but cross-platform gameplay is also supported, so you can pick up and play with friends anywhere, anytime.
Play is simple: loot chests, explore areas while scavenging for weapons and ammunition, chug potions to gain shields, and use your pickaxe to harvest materials by breaking down the world around you. Essentially, do whatever it takes to gear up fast and take down other players. With five item slots available, it’s important to grab at least one weapon (though we’d recommend grabbing several if you can), but the remaining slots can be used to carry healing items, potions, fishing reels, and other gear—but don’t dally too long deciding because the storm is coming.
The storm is an ever-encroaching threat that closes over set intervals and deals damage that increases over time to players trapped within its boundaries, forcing everyone closer together as the safe zone shrinks. The last team standing will claim the Victory Royale for themselves.
Fortnite’s graphics are campy, oversaturated, and brightly-colored fun making them a treat to look at. Unlike competitors such as PUBG or Apex Legends, Fortnite’s graphics trade realism for cartoonish, exaggerated features. When combined with the emotes and skins earned throughout the game, these can create some very entertaining in-game visuals.
It’s worth noting that DirectX 12 support is officially here for PC users, which means that people playing on higher quality graphics cards should see a more consistent gameplay experience thanks to an increased and more stable frame rate. If your system is older, you can play on reduced settings, but it does make the picture choppy and difficult to follow. It’ll get the job done, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
A battle royale it may be, but Fortnite’s unique building mechanics truly set the game apart and turn the heat up a notch. All that harvesting you’re doing will pay off, because for every 10 stacks of a material such as wood or stone you have, you can build a structure. Be aware that durability and build time will vary based on the selected material, so take time to experiment and find what techniques work best for you.
Building is as important as shooting, so it’s essential to learn the basics. Players can build floors, stairs, roofs, and walls, which can be used either in defense or, for the imaginative player, in offense. These structures help players gain the higher ground on the battlefield, access hard-to-reach map locations, and buy time for healing items or shielding potions. It seems counterintuitive to be building anything in a battle royale game, but within moments structures will cobble itself together before a player’s eyes.
For the more casual player, these building controls can be found on the keyboard, but binding the building keys to unused mouse buttons can quickly become an asset on the battlefield where every second counts. A seamless defense can be the difference between victory and defeat.
The seasonal Battle Pass system offers rewards to players as they gain experience in the game, a change from the previous system Chapter 1 used which relied on leveling up through Battle Stars earned from Weekly Challenges. The shift to experience-based leveling feels much more intuitive. And honestly, it’s fun to watch the experience bar increase during the match, although it’d be better if you could toggle its presence to collapse or display in the HUD.
If cosmetics aren’t as important to you, the Battle Pass is easily a feature you can skip, but if you like having a variety of goals you can work towards and earn, then it’s a no brainer.
Just like Chapter 1, Chapter 2’s Battle Pass offers both free and premium rewards. This is in addition to the microtransactions offered for cosmetic upgrades in the Fortnite Shop. These rewards are purely cosmetic, but offer big personalities. They vary from new skins, such as rescue workers or monsters made from Slurp Juice (the solution which shields players from damage), new gliders for launching onto the map, new pickaxes and backpacks, as well as silly dances and emotes for goofy fun.
To access the premium rewards, players need to buy into the Battle Pass by purchasing in-game currency known as V-Bucks. The Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks or $9.50. If you value cosmetic upgrades, it’s a fun add-on. If cosmetics aren’t as important to you, the Battle Pass is easily a feature you can skip, but if you like having a variety of goals you can work towards and earn, then it’s a no brainer. Each Battle Pass is only valid for the season in which they are bought, so if you’re joining late in the season consider if it’s worth it to invest in a reward system you may not be able to complete.
As if the game mechanics and the cosmetics weren’t thrilling enough, Epic Games takes the shake-ups a step further by offering alternative modes, limited-time game modes, and events with unique rewards.
These include permanent alternative modes like Team Rumble, which features teams of 50 versus 50 who compete for an elimination count to win the match, or crossover events between DC, Marvel, Stranger Things, John Wick, the NFL, and more. These crossover events aren’t just combat-based—Epic Games has gone as far as hosting a virtual concert on its servers with Marshmello, a popular DJ and Fortnite fan himself. It may seem strange, but Epic consistently seeks out ways to reinvent the game and push the boundaries of what video games are capable of handling. This ensures that Fortnite remains fresh and interesting.
If you love earning a variety of rewards, are intrigued by building mechanics, or just appreciate a casual game you can pick up and play, Fortnite’s Battle Royale is the clear winner.
The only decision players need to make is whether or not they want to pick up the Battle Pass, which retails for 950 V-Bucks ($9.50). Otherwise, Fortnite Battle Royale is free and available on almost every major platform: PC/Mac, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch. What’s better—cross-platform gameplay is also supported, so you can pick up and play with friends anywhere, anytime.
Battle royale games have seen a lot of shake-up in the field lately, with the latest challenger arriving in February 2019 thanks to Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends. Apex Legends is a first-person shooter meets battle royale game where 60 players are dropped onto a map competing with squads of three for domination.
Now boasting a player base of 70 million people, Apex Legends is quickly catching on Steam. All around, it feels like a more adult version of Fortnite. Instead of oversaturated, cartoonish graphics, goofy dances, and emotes, players are greeted by a more refined world that’s a glorious clash of fire and ice, and a graphics engine reminiscent of the Titanfall franchise. Running around lava fields, ziplining through ice craters, and skydiving into the skyscrapers of Capitol City is a real treat. One of the best parts of the map is the train system which spans the island, enabling quick travel between locations—and unexpected attacks of opportunity.
In addition to its fantastic graphics, Apex Legends offers a sophisticated ping system that communicates looting, enemy behavior, good-natured jibes, and movement tactics, among other call-outs. It’s a system Fortnite has even shifted into adopting, in a more limited manner. Unlike Fortnite’s weapon system, Apex Legends includes weapon attachments for additional customization options. These range from scopes, extended magazines, hop-ups to alter rate of fire, stocks, and barrel stabilizers.
Recently reaching its third season, Apex Legends offers its own Battle Pass for 950 Apex Coins or $9.50, although the rewards don’t seem nearly as enticing as those offered by Fortnite. It too offers both free rewards and paid rewards for players who buy into the Battle Pass, but the free rewards are few and far between. Many of the player skins and weapon skins are fun, but their presence seems counterintuitive—particularly when you consider that you rarely see the player skins you earn in Apex Legends thanks to its first-person shooter style. The only time you can appreciate them, aside from the loading screens, are when you perform finishing moves, revive a player, or skydive, which seems strange for something you’re able to customize as well as purchase additional cosmetics for through microtransactions.
If you love earning a variety of rewards, are intrigued by building mechanics, or just appreciate a casual game you can pick up and play, Fortnite’s Battle Royale is the clear winner. If you’re looking for a more advanced game, however, Apex Legends is an appealing challenger and well worth a second look—and just like Fortnite, Apex Legends is free to play. So, if you have the time, why not try both?
A fun, fast-paced battle royale that’s rightfully taken the world by storm.
Fortnite has taken the world by storm, and with over 250 million players worldwide, it’s easy to see why it’s so beloved. If you’re a fan of campy fun, vibrant graphics, third-person shooters, or battle royale games, Fortnite’s Battle Royale is well worth a look—and best of all, it is free to play. Combined with Epic Games’ continuous ability to reinvent Fortnite season after season, Fortnite Battle Royale a sure-fire winner in our books.