Fortnite Getting Rid Of Building Is The Best Thing For It

Remember when Fortnite wasn’t a battle royale phenomenon, but a fairly average third-person shooter reliant on building mechanics and wave-based combat? Not many people do, since before it decided to ape PUBG’s success Epic Games’ cartoonish project was set to come and go without so much as a whimper. Nobody was talking about it during the initial review period, and even fewer were coughing up pennies to buy it.

It wasn’t until the free-to-play battle royale mode emerged that anyone cared, and what helped it stand out was building. Instead of hiding in basements and waiting out enemies, you could harvest some resources before making your own sprawling fortresses. Those who played the base game had an advantage, while the game’s freemium nature meant that anyone could jump in and learn the ropes before eventually becoming a master.

Building has always been a fundamental part of Fortnite’s identity, even if only a small minority of players actually make full use of the system. At first, Epic Games’ appealed to this subset of users by introducing new mechanics and items that benefited those who were willing to gather resources and stake their claim on the island. But given the fast-paced nature of battle royale, an emphasis was placed on speed over craftsmanship.

Those who could build a tower outfitted with walls, a roof, and other defences in a matter of seconds would have a natural advantage. The high ground was there, as was an obstacle that would take several bullets to pierce. I’m not much of a builder. It takes me ages to build even a basic wall to crouch behind, standing up to take the occasional potshot at my enemies. Normally I’d ditch the idea of crafting altogether and just go all serpentine when running towards my enemies hoping they don’t murder me. Either that or I’ll hide behind trees or a rock – which to be honest are just as useful as assembling my own.

Building slowly became an aspect of the meta that fewer and fewer people were interacting with, and it seems Epic Games has finally started to take notice. While its removal is temporary, the arrival of Chapter 3: Season 2 saw the complete rapture of building from battle royale playlists. You can still dabble in creative or custom game modes, but when it comes to the most popular mode in the entire game, building is nowhere to be seen.

Its absence has been implemented into the game’s lore, with a new roster of characters walking you through the sudden removal by teaching you parkour, sliding, and an improved sprint mechanic that makes escaping dangerous situations that much easier. Instead of building environments to hide away in during firefights, you are asked to adapt to existing ones, whether this involves climbing atop random rooftops, or sliding down hillsides before rolling into cover. Stumbling across opponents is no longer a case of whoever can build the fastest will automatically win, it’s a more competitive game of skill that players old and new can pick up instead of being left behind. For me, it’s the most exciting thing Fortnite could have done.

The foundations of building such as resource gathering and breaking apart existing locales still remain, so there’s nothing stopping players from making use of environmental defamation to uncover loot and ambush their enemies, but building upon these places with your own creations is now, at least for the time being, impossible. I might be in the minority here, but I love how this brave design decision will reinvigorate what it means to play Fortnite. I walked away because I wasn’t willing to learn building, nor did the game offer up compelling ways to do so without getting absolutely trounced. Learning a new mechanic only to know there’s a possibility of it being taken away in the next season felt like a lost cause, so I didn’t bother. Turns out my laziness was prophetic, because here we are in the resistance with no way to build big gamer forts to procure a victory royale.

I’m yet to win in the new season, but yesterday saw me reach the final three and the lack of building made the final confrontation that much more interesting. I didn’t need to glance at the horizon and see a giant fucking wooden tower in the distance to find my enemy’s location. Instead, I needed to listen, watch my corners, and move away from safety in order to spot my foes and get the jump on them. I couldn’t risk them coming to me, so I used the new parkour system to gain the higher ground and survey from above. Normally I’d switch off Fortnite after playing a single match and wasting money on the battle pass, but this time things were different. I boarded the battle bus again and again ready to earn experience and put these new systems to the test.

Building is likely to return, and I imagine it will become a permanent fixture once again. Despite this I hope Epic Games’ comes to realise that its experiment has already been successful, and there is absolutely an audience in Fortnite who want a battle royale mode where success isn’t based on a building mechanic which has long grown impenetrable.

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