By: Nat Wilk, Editor in Chief
Photos collected by Nat Wilk
If you play online video games or have a 12-year old, there is a very high chance you have heard of Fortnite. Their Battle Royale (BR) mode is one that helped define the battle royale genre, along with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). A battle royale features many players in one space and fighting until just one remains – you normally play as a solo or in a duo or squad (four players), but trios have also been seen in these modes. Fortnite didn’t start with their BR mode, however; it started with a mode called Save the World (STW), a mode you have to purchase where you work to defend against and fight zombies with weapons, fortifications and more.
It wasn’t until after PUBG had released that Epic Games, who had developed Fortnite, said “Hey, I bet we can make our own!” and then one of the most popular free games was born just two months after releasing Save the World. Although the battle royale mode is free, it does feature in-game currency and microtransactions, but they do not grant the player any advantage; it is simply all cosmetic. Fortnite also features a Creative mode (released in December 2018), where players can create their own maps with complete freedom – if you’re familiar with sandbox modes or Creative in Minecraft, it’s the same idea. (Note: you do not need Save the World to be able to play Battle Royale mode).
One of the defining aspects that made Fortnite Battle Royale different was the implementation of building – not only would players have to master different guns and items, but they would also spend hours perfecting four types of building pieces. Placing, editing and destroying these builds have been a massive part of the gameplay since launch. Building features four pieces – a wall, a floor, a pyramid and an upward slant. Each of these pieces can be edited to take different forms, like stairs, windows, doors and multiple unique shapes to help aid gameplay. Three different materials can be used for building: wood, stone and metal. Wood is the weakest and easiest to harvest, and metal is the strongest but the hardest to harvest.
Despite the years of popularity that building has brought to the game, on March 20, 2022, players started chapter three, season two of Fortnite without the function of building in the default modes (solo, duo, squads) – building was still available in Arena matches (a more competitive mode of solos, duos and squads) and Team Rumble (essentially a team deathmatch). Fortnite instead implemented the ability to scale walls (called ‘mantling’), a faster sprint function and an extra layer of shield called an Overshield. Players now had to play the game like every other battle royale – and if you were me, you kept hitting the button that opens the build menu, furiously forgetting that you can’t place a wall when you’re getting shot at.
The response to this was mixed – many players who previously never played Fortnite due to building decided to try since it was removed from the game. At the same time, players that genuinely loved building were annoyed with the aspect that made Fortnite, Fortnite being removed.
Luckily, the entire player base would have a compromise soon – on March 29, Epic Games confirmed rumors of the zero building mode being a separate mode from the default gameplay with building. Shortly after this announcement, an update brought the separate modes and players could choose whether or not they wanted an experience with building in it.
I have been playing Fortnite since around season four (May 2018), so I have a bit of time under my belt and a lot of money wasted on V-Bucks (in-game currency). I’d define myself as a bit of a more ‘casual sweat,’ which means I play for fun but do really enjoy the challenges the gameplay brings. I couldn’t believe it when I loaded the game to find out that building was gone – I can’t even begin to explain how many times I pressed the button to build and harvested building materials when I didn’t need to.
The second they brought it back, I was relieved; but I also found out that outside of playing Team Rumble, my hands had forgotten how to build and edit. I was now fumbling around like a fool trying to protect myself and give myself advantages, and had to spend time practicing building again.
I was disappointed to be without building for a while, but in no way am I furious with having a separate mode with no building. Some people are, which boggles my mind since they have building back and do not have to play Zero Build if they do not wish to. Having building/no building opens the game up to many more players – although the buttons to build are customizable and you can remap which button does what, Zero Build is overall a more accessible game mode for people who previously didn’t want to build or couldn’t build due to coordination, arthritis, reaction time or other attributes.
With all of the buzz around Fortnite’s Zero Build mode, the game has seen many new players since the start of the current season. There’s always talk about how Fortnite is a ‘dead game,’ meaning nobody plays it – which just simply isn’t true. It isn’t for everyone, but if you’re on the fence about trying it, you might as well: it’s free, and you have the choice to build or not to build!