Fortnite needs no introduction. Whatever you personally think of it, its success is undeniable as is its influence on free-to-play games in general. It's fair to call it a skin shop with a game attached. But you can't argue with success.
Fortnite's battle royale mode has gone through a lot of changes since the early days. My first experience was somewhat enjoyable, back when the battle royale required the purchase of the full game to unlock before the free-to-play skinapalooza ever came along.
But one thing I never liked, that I could never ever get along with, was the building. It differentiated Fortnite from the crowd, but it also became more important to be good at building than be good at a shooter. But this week, Epic Games turned off the building, and what do you know, Fortnite is fun as hell to play.
Wait, Fortnite with no building?
It's part of the latest seasonal update, but yes, all building has been completely disabled in Fortnite. Alas, it's only for a limited time, and as things stand it'll be back next week, but the impact its removal on the game has had is astonishing.
As a casual player, Fortnite is now fun to play again.
No longer can the more competent builders spam build a 12-story skyscraper every time someone shoots at them. The playing field has been completely leveled, so those of us who are OK at shooters but terrible at building a luxury mansion with a swimming pool have more of a chance. And are having more fun.
Even the fact there are tanks roaming around doesn't really ruin things. Sure, Fortnite may have been built on the core concept of its building mechanics, but the fact that it is, right now, just a regular shooter with a fun map, some interesting quests, bounties, it's just fun. Not being trapped in a wooden cage and hit with a pump shotgun every single game is refreshing.
I'm not alone either.
Fortnite should keep a building-free mode
Alas, the jubilation is short-lived because the lack of building is part of the storyline attached to the latest season. It will soon be turned back on, and Fortnite will return to its old ways and I, and a lot of others no doubt, will walk away again.
In my circle of friends, there are plenty who have specifically played Fortnite this week because there's no building involved. Some haven't played the game since the very early days, some have never played. It's a big deal. And in the bigger picture, it seems to have generated some buzz as well. Some huge names, such as Tfue, have also come out and said that this is just better. And he's a pretty handy Fortnite player:
Looking at TwitchTracker, there's a very obvious bump in not only those streaming Fortnite but the viewers watching those streams. Obviously, Fortnite is still one of the most popular games on the planet, but it's no longer the darling of Twitch. Nevertheless, there's a clear increase in popularity tying in with the launch of the new season, but also the fact there's currently no building. It doesn't take long to browse the listings and find a stream where someone is returning after a hiatus and having an absolute blast.
And that's why Fortnite should keep a building-free mode.
Obviously, the main game mode will see it return very soon, and it'll be interesting to see whether the buzz dies off when it does. But there's no reason the current state of play couldn't remain as an alternate game mode, surely? Very clearly there's a case for it to exist.
Those of us who find the game fun but the building aspects loathsome are clearly more prominent than many diehard players would like to admit. Keeping a building-free mode that mirrors the current week's play would probably keep me playing, and I'm sure the same applies to many others.
As it is, I'll keep playing for the next few days until it gets turned back on and see what happens.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine