I was on a self-imposed Fortnite Battle Royale ban until just recently. For roughly three weeks, the siren call was not answered by me. It was good: I played some other games, continued to get fatter, and looked my girlfriend in the eye like a normal human being instead of picturing how best I could build her into a tower.
But, as with all majorly addictive games, Fortnite was a habit that I just couldn’t quit. A lot of that comes down to just how easy it is to fail and go again within the space of a minute, often even a lot less.
Above all else, the key to a multiplayer game’s success is just how painless it is to find a match and then be in one. If you’re coming up against empty lobbies and a waiting time that ages you considerably, you probably aren’t going to want to stick around. A large part of the reason why I stopped playing Siege was because the downtime wasn’t quick enough; I didn’t want the adrenaline rush to fade away, I wanted to keep going and occasionally do better than average.
There’s no such issue with Fortnite. Once you’ve met your match, be it from a sniper bullet from two hundred meters away or because you fell off your tower because you are not good at brain, the chance to redeem yourself is also immediate. If you time the period between the death screen and then being on the Battle Bus, it’s often far less than a minute.
Similarly to PUBG, Fortnite places you in a lobby (or pre-match environment) that you can mess around in; I can’t see The Worm coming to PUBG, however. Compared to the sometimes torturous minute’s waiting time in Bluehole’s behemoth with a bewildering amount of gunfire and explosions going off all around you, it’s rare that it even gets to thirty seconds in Fortnite – as soon as the player minimums are hit, it will start the ten second countdown.
Adding to the quick in-and-out of matchmaking, a very simple but very effective design decision from Epic was to make the next match only a couple of button presses away. On PS4, it’s circle to leave the match and triangle to ready up for the next rodeo of nonsense. That’s it. I subconsciously do this on such a regular basis that “one-more-game” turns into “ten-more-games-of-shame”. There comes a time during long sessions when I have to snap myself out of the bricks and wood haze that I am in, but it takes me long damn while for me to get to that point.
Fortnite’s immediacy extends to more than just matchmaking, however. Compared to other battle royale games, long stretches of nothing are far rarer than they are the norm. Almost no matter where you land, you are never far from loot or another player – you really kind of have to be deliberately trying to avoid contact to not bump into something or someone. This wasn’t the case when the mode first dropped, but over time as Epic continued to populate and tweak their world, cowards have a harder time than ever.
The recent map update for Fortnite Battle Royale wasn’t just a couple of rejigs, it was a complete overhaul that more or less redesigned the entire left side of the map. Those dreaded long stretches of nothing were replaced by a few new named areas, but none fit the ethos of Epic’s change in tack quite like Tilted Towers: the place where dreams go to die. The most densely populated area in the game in terms of loot and building, players regularly swarm to Tilted, no matter how far away the Battle Bus takes them. Not only does this create some frenetic and somewhat ridiculous combat from the word go, but it also causes all nearby areas to have a “trickle” effect whereby everyone leaving Tilted starts seeking loot elsewhere, presumably armed to the teeth.
However, it would be a little silly to write this without mentioning that the game’s had its issues of late. After being down for five hours a few weeks back for maintenance and updates, Epic sent out freebies to its players as a way of saying sorry. That same thing happened with the launch of season 3, the struggles of which was then further compounded by the sheer volume of players trying to connect.
Still, fairly irregular downtime or not, Fornite Battle Royale is one of the most irresistibly addictive games I’ve ever played. Long sessions with it are like being hooked up to an IV drip – I have no idea when I will be to rip the damn thing off.
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