We like to talk about Fortnite: Battle Royale. Like, a lot. But how can you not talk about one of the best, most popular multiplayer games of 2018? Especially with the recent season 4 update, which brought with it plenty of changes and updates to this cultural icon of a game.
Avid followers of Epic Games’ 100-player PvP shooter will know that a new season means new cosmetics, UI upgrades, and – most vitally – new changes to the colourful island map; on which everybody descends to murder one another. Prior to May 1st, when the update dropped, many clues about what was on the horizon began appearing; most notably, the zooming meteor that showed up around this time last month. But now it’s here, and we’ve all had plenty of time to explore Fortnite’s latest secrets.
The least subtle changes come in the form of Risky Reels and Dusty Divot – two meteorite-struck areas that have changed the centre and north-eastern areas of the map. Dusty Divot might sound familiar, because it’s largely replaced the previous Dusty Depot with a huge crater. Inside this crater sits a sprawling research base, which is a popular location, even now we’re almost a fortnight (ha!) since it appeared.
Risky Reels, on the other hand, cements the old-school sci-fi cinema feeling that this season has been going for; it still contains a crater, but also introduces a drive-in theatre and numerous film cameras. Both of these areas – as well as several other unnamed locations – feature newly introduced Hop Rocks that grant reduced gravity for 30-seconds. This can radically mix-up combat, but is often utilised to get from A to B in record time.
Beyond this, frequent players will notice multiple new areas and additions littered across the entire map. A mansion that has been dubbed the ‘Superhero Base’ sits on the eastern shore, while its villainous counterpart is hiding over to the west, by Snobby Shores. There’s even subtler changes, like several underground bunkers hidden beneath houses, but we’ll leave you to find them on your own – that’s half the fun, particularly for veterans who think they’ve seen it all.
So how does season 4 play with all these changes? Well, naturally, it’s still fundamentally the same Fortnite you either love or hate. I’m a creature of habit, so I still often land in familiar areas, but having these new locations means that sprinting across the island to avoid the impending storm is more fun than ever. In fact, the first time I encountered Dusty Divot was during a climactic final fight for the top position; a fight I lost, but had a great time taking part in. If the old map is ingrained in your psyche, then coming over the hill and seeing the vast crater that used to be rolling fields is nothing short of shocking.
Also, whether it’s convenient timing or a planned tie-in, season 4’s first Limited Time Mode (LTM) is a Marvel crossover that sees everybody battling to fight as Thanos; Infinity War‘s hulking antagonist, and a genuine threat.
Previous modes have seen players limited to a select arsenal, or even pitted two teams of 50 against one another. With the Infinity Gauntlet LTM, though, the typically samey gameplay is given a burst of arguably needed life. Everybody still drops down and fights in a similar fashion, but the constant knowledge that somebody playing as Thanos could fly over and destroy everything makes the tension even more exciting than before. In a clever mechanic, players can see Thanos’ location at all times, and yet he is unaware of where you are. A head-on fight won’t pan out well, so strategy is required to take him down. You can then slip-on the Gauntlet for yourself.
It’s not all good news, unfortunately. While on the surface everything is shiny and new, Fortnite’s core mechanics are still plagued by some misfires that up the irritation to sometimes unbearable levels.
This annoyance primarily comes in the form of shotgun combat – an unreliable weapon that either decimates foes, or peppers them with something akin to cotton balls. This is a symptom of a larger issue faced by Fortnite’s gunplay: bloom. Essentially, the random bullet spread can sometimes feel wholly unfair, as shots fly wide around your enemy; all while theirs nail you in a few bullets. This is something the avid community over at /r/FortniteBR has had enough of, and searching ‘shotgun’ results in many, many memes.
Tilted Towers is still a blood-soaked hellhole, too. Despite all the new locations and variety added to the map, hordes of players still insist on dropping into this towering city – meaning many other areas are left completely barren. This doesn’t seem like something Epic Games could ever fix; I just wish they’d destroyed Tilted like many theorised.
I haven’t even touched on the hundreds of aesthetic items that can be gained, mainly by buying this season’s ‘Battle Pass’ for the agreeable price of 950 v-Bucks (which works out to around £8). This is an absolute must for frequent players of Fortnite, because it guarantees tangible reward for your continued efforts. Sure, many of these rewards are throwaway sprays or loading screens, but there’s some nuggets of gold in there – I’m looking at you, Orange Justice.
So does this season update make Fortnite: Battle Royale an even more enticing game to spend all Summer playing? Definitely. While it’s got its problems, Fortnite has become a cultural staple that is set to stay. And with consistent weekly updates and a transparent development team, it’s not hard to see why.