When Fortnite Battle Royale first came out, I really didn't like how it was almost impossible to land somewhere without a bunch of other players right on top of you. For newcomers, it's intimidating and difficult to learn to loot properly when everyone heads to the same spots and ultimately you get killed very early, very often.
The map isn't as big as the maps you'll find in other battle royale games like PUBG or H1Z1, which is both good and bad for various reasons. But Epic Games has pushed out a serious update to the Fortnite map without making it any bigger.
And it fixes basically everything I didn't like.
More places to loot
The map isn't any bigger, but it has a number of new built-up areas to loot in. Snobby Shores, Shifty Shafts, Tilted Towers, Junk Junction and Haunted Hills are all new locations on the left side of the map to explore, loot, build and dominate.
Tilted Towers seems to be the new favorite hotspot for a couple of reasons. The first is it's new and folks always hit the new stuff first. But it's also a high-rise city with many large buildings — and large buildings mean lots of loot.
The new locations are all very different to each other, as well. Snobby Shores is your upmarket rich people housing, while Junk Junction is a scrap yard perfect for harvesting metal. And whatever the flight path of the battle bus you can usually hit any of these new locations if you're prepared to long drop with your glider.
My personal favorite is Haunted Hills. There's usually some decent loot around without being overwhelmed with a ton of players all trying to get it.
More obstacles between circles
While much of the landscape of the right side of the map is essentially the same as the original map, the left side is now much more built up and provides more of an obstacle when running between circles.
I previously criticised how easy it was to get between the circles in Fortnite BR even without the use of vehicles, and part of that was because there was very little to stop you running in a straight line. The new locations put a new challenge in between that since you're no longer just running through the open wilderness.
You can still (and should) use building to your advantage, getting up to those high, hard-to-reach places, but you've more decisions to make now. Do you try and go around Tilted Towers, skirting the edges but taking a longer route, or do you take the risk and go through the hotspot, hoping no-one has camped waiting to take you out?
Engagements and the temptation to loot as you now pass through these places also affects how long you have before the storm descends. On the old map, I could always run between the circles even when they were really far away. On the new map, I'm running for all my worth with 1hp with the storm right behind me. All because I went through town.
Still free to play
Even with this huge update, Fortnite BR is still very much free to play with no restrictions. Epic Games has implemented monetization in the form of cosmetic upgrades and the Battle Pass, but at no point does monetization interfere with gameplay.
The Battle Pass will get you exclusive cosmetic items, in-game currency rewards, emotes and bonus XP over the free tier. But leveling up doesn't affect how well you can play the game. It only ever affects how much cool stuff you have to play with. Someone who doesn't buy the Battle Pass or spend a single cent on in-game currency plays on the same level as someone who spends all the moneys.
The only barrier to your success is your own skill, exactly as it should be.
The bottom line
Fortnite Battle Royale wasn't exactly stale, but the new additions to the map have definitely injected some new life into the game. While the headlines are always about PUBG, Fortnite is there alongside boasting huge player counts and in many ways, is a better game to play.
It's smooth, mostly lag- and crash-free, and has a better and more consistent frame rate right now than PUBG (you can uncap the frame rate on Xbox One X). Of course, the latter has only been in Game Preview for just over a month, but Fortnite BR is better off for the longer development time on the console. Whether you like the way it looks or not (I think it looks awesome), you can't deny that the core gameplay is solid and it's an exciting title to play.
It now feels like Fortnite Battle Royale is at a point of solid foundation for growth. Player numbers are massive, but the current state of the game provides a good platform to continue to build on. Battle Royale is going to keep on taking the world by storm, and having more than one great game to play is no bad thing.
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