The state of Fortnite in 2022

Fortnite: Battle Royale has to be one of the most divisive games ever. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a fun and accessible free-to-play shooter or a pop culture machine that does whatever it can to flip a V-Buck. Because the consensus is mostly split, where any sort of middle ground gets swallowed up by social media discourse, it can be hard to recommend Fortnite to anyone who doesn’t already love it. And yet, that is exactly what I aim to do. 

The popular notion that Fortnite is a game for kids and charismatic streamers isn’t lost on me. Its cartoonish visuals, unique (and somewhat frustrating) building system, and familiar game modes/gameplay mechanics help to perpetuate this feeling. And that’s before witnessing Naruto blast Batman with a shotgun to win a Victory Royale. I mean, in what world does a prepared Batman lose a fight with Naruto?

Back in the game

Fortnite Chapter 3

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Seriously though, I get it. I didn’t always like Fortnite either, the main reason being that I sucked at building makeshift structures; it’s rather humbling to be bested by a twelve-year-old savant who can erect a giant steel tower in mere seconds. That said, my opinion of Fortnite started to shift once Chapter 2 began.

Like most games of its ilk, Fortnite is forever changing. While certain mechanics will always be present – sorry, the building aspect is here to stay – the constant tweaks to the game’s basic systems have led to an improved gameplay experience. We got better weapons which narrowed the skill gap between players who excelled at building and those who were only concerned with shooting. It was possible to smoke out a rival with the Primal Stink Bow’s dangerous gas cloud before finishing them off with a few rifle shots, for instance. There was also a new crafting mechanic that removed some of the randomness attached to found items, purchasable weapons (using an in-game currency not tied to real money), hirable NPCs, and more.  

Fortnite Chapter 2 ushered in a lot of these types of changes, most of which were well received. This beneficial shifting of code is most evident in the game’s current season though. Fortnite Chapter 3, Season 1 features enhanced gunplay thanks to some new additions like the MK-Seven Assault Rifle – the game’s first non-sniper rifle that allows players to aim down sights – and the extremely accurate Stinger SMG. Their inclusion is bolstered by the removal of older weapons. Instead of a bloated library of guns, Fortnite now has a smaller, yet solid selection that readily mirrors other shooters. Meaning that there are less gimmicky items (sans the occasional rare item like a snowball firing power weapon) and more modern shooting.  

Fortnite Chapter 3 also added new defensive and helpful items. This includes a healing spray called Med-Mist that allows players to heal while on the move, and Camps, a deployable used to store weapons and such to be retrieved in later matches. Of course, you’ll still find the normal shield potions and medic packs of yore. There are more options now though and most are linked to movement; being stationary in order to restore all of your health vs running away from a storm while regaining some of your life points back.

Fortnite Chapter 3 Season 1

(Image credit: Epic Games)

“Fortnite’s improved gunplay is enough to warrant giving it a second look”

Speaking of movement, one of the best additions to Fortnite is the new slide mechanic. It’s now possible to slide down hills and under objects in the environment in a manner that’s akin to the sliding found in Apex Legends. Sure, sliding in and of itself isn’t exactly a revolutionary change. That said, being able to maneuver quickly in Fortnite without the use of items is a boon. Not only does it allow for some interesting moments – try sliding down a mountain with the storm at your back while shooting at a rival a few feet below you – the sliding also changes the scope of some shootouts. Instead of every encounter being played out vertically via built structures, there’s now a horizontal element at work. It can be tough to hit an opponent who keeps zipping under and around your defenses. 

There’s also dynamic weather in the form of tornadoes and lighting storms. This recently added phenomenon doesn’t act in ways we’d expect. Instead of causing untold damage, like in say Battlefield 2042, the bad weather can be used to your advantage. Getting struck by lightning will cause a little damage. It’ll also provide a burst of speed as it supercharges your character. Tornadoes, on the other hand, will send you flying through the air before gliding back down to the ground. 

The point that I’m trying to make is that Fortnite has undergone some changes. It’s been reworked and tweaked several times over in an effort to not only keep things fresh for fans, but also to entice those of us who’d otherwise pass on the game. And a lot of it is working. Fortnite’s improved gunplay is enough to warrant giving it a second look. The most optimal time being right now considering that the buzz surrounding Fortnite’s Chapter 2 end event and the prospect of playing on a new island has led to a wave of newcomers. Meaning, that you most likely won’t be matched up with Fortnite’s best architects. Even if that was the case, with the enhanced gunplay it’s possible to snag a Victory Royale by shooting your way to the top; I’ve won several crowns this season and none of those victories had anything to do with how fast I could build. 

I’ve come to enjoy playing Fortnite: Battle Royale. For better or worse, it entertains in a way that is overwhelmingly unique. I’ve also come to understand that it will always be a divisive game; no number of changes/updates will stop the “dead game” comments or headache inducing eye rolling whenever a new pop culture icon is added to its shop. And that’s cool. Because Fortnite is a pop culture machine that does whatever it can to flip a V-Buck. It is, after all, a free-to-play game developed to entertain while making money. That said, the perceived ills associated with that fact doesn’t entirely negate Fortnite’s ability to provide a good time. 

Big in 2022

(Image credit: Future)

GamesRadar+ is exploring the biggest games of the new year with exclusive interviews, hands-on impressions, and in-depth editorials. For more, be sure to check out our Big in 2022 coverage.

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