Yesterday, after about four years sans Fortnite (the last time I really played much was during the “Fortnight of Fortnite” over at Waypoint), I decided to download the game on my Switch and jump back in. I was immediately greeted by a cutscene that included, among other things, Darth Vader “helping” a Stormtrooper become tall enough to ride a rollercoaster and Indiana Jones just kind of showing up in a theme park, all of which was a bit confusing. The whole thing for season three is “vibin,” and I feel very, very old just typing that out.
I won’t lie, I had some difficulties getting used to the game again, as I spent about half my first match twiddling with the controls, trying to find the invert camera setting (it’s in the second tab of settings! Under “other game controls!”). But once I could see and basically control things, I started to fall a bit for the game’s goofy magic (and genuinely inspired design choices.)
I’m not exactly up to speed on all the mechanics, I will freely admit. And I’m just playing Solo right now, in the general 100-person matches. I’m keeping things as simple as can be at the moment. But as I’m warming up to building and shooting (and learning where best to place myself for those things), I’m really enjoying the act of exploration. This is like my earlier hours with Elden Ring all over again, when I basically ignored 90 percent of the combat and played that game like a platformer: relishing the sheer variety of landscapes and structures, just running and jumping and riding Torrent all over the place. I got ridiculously far just doing that, and yes, eventually decided to fight a few times.
I’m happily enjoying that process right here in Fortnite, especially because nearly everything is new to me again. The last time I played, it was all about Tomato Town and Flush Factory, and now, entire sections (maybe the entirety?) of the map has been revamped. I’m having a blast flying towards mountains and into swamps and… party beaches? Seeing what I can see.
Supporting this are new (for me) objectives and sub-goals, and even the cute little “boot camp” objectives for brand new players. I’m having a fantastic time just running (or driving!) around, careening through mountains, checking out abandoned buildings, swimming and generally just feeling everything out. Yes, sure, I’m going to the appropriate circles at the right times, and I’ve even made it to the top ten players standing a few times (give me a medal, I know), but it’s been much more about traversal and experimentation than shooting or throwing grenades or building stairways to heaven (honestly, I’m not sure if players even do that anymore).
I have a lot of respect for the design decisions here, which allow a newbie like me to have fun and kind of run around like a kid picking daisies in the outfield for a bit before things get serious. Naturally, the core battle royale format is rock solid (just like a match 3 puzzle, or well-designed platformer, this is just a kind of game structure that works when it’s implemented skillfully), but the world design is fun enough that it’s kept me coming back for a half-dozen matches, just wanting to color in the map and see all the weird little features of this world.
The game runs well on the Switch, by the way. It’s certainly not the prettiest version of the game, but that’s where the cartoony aesthetic and goofy physics serve it well: as long as things run well enough without much lag, you can have fun with the format. I suppose it also serves me because I’m not exactly an elite sniper — picking foes off from some cartoon crow’s nest in the distance — I’m just kind of jumping about.
Maybe next week I’ll start really looking into the fundamentals of combat, but for now, I’m living my best life running around.
If you’re looking for more help, we have guides covering new and returning weapons, how to plant Reality Saplings, all Battle Pass skins including Darth Vader, weekly quests, how to ride animals, all current bugs and known issues, how to cure Storm Sickness, and all Tover Tokens to complete Snap Quests.