This morning, Epic Games remodeled Fortnite: Battle Royale’s map, an island death zone masked with lush greenery and quaint little towns. The updated map includes a half dozen new points of interest that are joyful to play, and also, boost the pace of each game.
Fortnite, which has been downloaded over 40 million times, is seeing sudden and massive success after Epic Games introduced its Battle Royale mode, a not-so-subtle reimagining of hit game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Today’s new map, a jacked-up version of the original one, includes quite a few new locations, and even biomes, that maintain the tone of the world while also delivering a few surprises. There’s a soccer field where players can kick around a ball, and in proper Fortnite style, confetti springs out of goals when players score. There’s a row of seaside mansions that are an absolute blast to play hide-and-seek against your opponents. There are bleak, cemetery hills with gorgeous, castle-like structures. All of the new zones have their own flair and are rewarding to explore until somebody better than you kills you.
My favorite, and apparently everyone else’s, were the Tilted Towers. Playing for a couple of hours this morning, I noticed players swarm the Tilted Towers like flying termites. Action was happening at many altitudes, and, swinging through a mid-leveled window, I fell into three harried encounters before getting shot less than a minute later. It was a short-lived thrill that felt random and, at the same time, tempting to master. The new mines in the Shifty Shafts were less crowded, but with its labyrinthine underground structures, it was harder for me to run from my pursuers. That felt a little like falling into a pit fight.
Players will notice that the addition of new zones has made Fortnite: Battle Royale a little more of an aggressive game. Its older map had quite a few points of interest spread out across the island. Large swaths of grass separated most zones. Now, new points of interests populate those spaces. Accounting for the fact that lots of players were checking out the new zones, the mere fact of less empty space means that evasive strategies may be harder to pull off. I encountered many more players than usual in my three hours playing and died much more frequently, too. More buildings forced more interaction.
Although players were still building a hilltop fort, I saw more players shifting to a different construction style that depended on these new zones. Lots of players were demolishing and rebuilding buildings instead of starting from scratch. That way, they could get better sniping angles on opponents down below or effectively hide from crowds. When I started modding these new zones to accommodate my strategies, I realized that it’s easy to get a lot out of a single one-vs.-one interaction in Fortnite: Battle Royale if you view it more as a real-time strategy game and less like a survival shooter.
The tone of the game shifted a little for me with the new map. It moves faster. At first, I found this frustrating because I wanted to explore the map and encounter more items. But also, unlike PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite: Battle Royale isn’t about being an acquisitive nomad, constantly seeking out better gear and a safer spot. You don’t need that much stuff to win Fortnite: Battle Royale—just a gun, some building equipment and maybe some bandages. Making each round faster and with more varied combat zones means I can concentrate on what’s really important: thinking fast and being resourceful.