And it's Not League of Legends: Fortnite Battle Royale

Hello all, I am making my return from my hiatus and actually coming back with a game that is in the news right now: Fortnite Battle Royale. Epic Game’s new mode for their title Fortnite, and while the original title, a player VS. environment building game released in late July, Epic has added on this new game mode which I was roped into playing by my roommate.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is another entry into the famous Battle Royale genre that blends survival elements like scavenging and building in a similar way to a very dumbed down Minecraft. You, the player, are crammed aboard the Battle Bus (which was subject to some very rude names by any of my friends who happened to witness me playing this week) and dropped onto a remote island with nothing but a parachute and a pickaxe. Your goal is to be the last man standing.

Winning in Fortnite Battle Royale is not easy just from a statistical standpoint, you have around 100 other people who are trying to survive and get whatever loot they can - as well as try and shoot you. You know, like the Hunger Games. The core gameplay loop of Fortnite is fascinating, you choose where you drop but as soon as a minute passes a circle is marked on the map and in two minutes a storm closes in from the edges of the map and damages any player caught in it, forcing the remaining players closer and closer together. Once the storm is completely around the ring, a new one forms and so it goes on until just one lone player is left standing.

Despite being extremely luck-based (the map is always the same, the loot is not) there are some deep strategy elements to it if you want to succeed and survive for as long as possible. Which is the one aspect that keeps me playing. You have to plan out your exact steps you will take based on the very beginning, not necessarily to score lots of kills, but just to survive. Every firefight you go into can cost resources or even your life if you’re bad at shooting (like me). It's usually better to just avoid unnecessary fights entirely and just make your way towards the circle because kills in this game ultimately don’t matter, only whoever is the last man standing.

The good in the game is that the game’s presentation is excellent and it is very, very replayable as I found myself wasting about three more hours just messing around and I can see the game becoming addicting very quickly. If you die fast you get back into a new game fast. The game’s major weakness, unfortunately, lies in its gunplay, the accuracy of weapons has a bad mouthfeel if you have even the slightest bit of latency. Its other area of struggle lies in the building system which although useful is almost completely forgotten about in game despite how prominently it featured in the Trailer the user interface is too clunky to be used if anyone is around and the traps that you can find in the loot feel like a white elephant as they make too much noise to really be useful. And after playing 100+ games I have yet to see anyone fall for them.

Beyond describing the gameplay of Fortnite Battle Royale, there’s not much more to say about it. It's good, it's well executed despite needing some tweaks here and there, and Epic plans on continuing to support the game mode with regular patches and updates. The problem right now is that this game mode is almost exactly the same as Playerunknown's Battlegrounds albeit with a building and destructible environment element added on top of that. This puts PUBG developer Bluehole in a bind for two reasons: (1) Fortnite Battle Royale is free to play; (2) PUBG uses the UE4 engine which is produced by Epic Games, meaning that for every unit PUBG sells Epic is getting royalties while also directly competing with PUBG. The EGF’s own Najee walker also discussed the problems with this in his own article (link)

I want to be able to see the good in everyone and that Epic just wanted to expand upon their game with a mode that they know is popular right now but it's a bit on the nose that they happened to choose a mode that is very similar to PUBG’s. It's not a good look and Bluehole doesn’t have a lot of actions it can take in order to compete as Epic Games is also a much larger company. At this point Bluehole has said in a press release (odd) that it will likely be pursuing legal action. What this will entail remains to be seen but Bluehole has elected to make sure that everyone knows it.

Whether Bluehole and by extension PUBG have a legal leg to stand on is up in the air. Premises and ideas get borrowed all the time. I wouldn’t have this series if it wasn’t for League of Legends ripping off of a Warcraft 3 mod in the first place. If Fortnite Battle Royale continues to stick around it could turn into something great but again it’s future is uncertain