I find myself taken aback when comparing Fortnite‘s original 2017 release to what it became in 2022. It’s wild to think that substantial, game-altering updates are coming to Fortnite all these years later. As if Zero Build mode wasn’t enough change for one year, its most recent changes have completely altered the game in a positive way yet again.
The latest chapter of the battle royale-turned-metaverse brings in another fresh map, more movement options, a new random ability mechanic, and a visually stunning graphical overhaul. Those are all exciting updates, but none of them are what matters most to me: What I really care about is that, for once, I can actually use whichever weapon I want.
Sins of Fortnite past
[3:03 PM] Giovanni Colantonio
In the past iterations of Fortnite, there was always a set routine for a round: scavenge for the two weapons that were clearly a cut above the rest, grab a special tool like Shockwave Grenades or Dragon Ball Nimbus Cloud, and fill the rest of your inventory with healing items. It’s been this way ever since I started playing, and by the time we hit the finale of the last chapter, it honestly had run its course for me.
Fortnite has always been a game I’d hop on with my sister and my girlfriend to just lose ourselves in some fun. By the end of each season, we’d have a game plan and our favorite selections of tools to find, put to use, and stick with it, whether it be the Drum Shotgun Jetpack combo or Raygun from the classic alien beach season. In the shooter’s last chapter, the well had begun to run dry. While I appreciated guns requiring different skills, the “best guns” just weren’t ones I was having fun with. Considering that we weren’t high on the game’s last loot pool, my crew burnt out on the game, leading to the longest break we’d had from it in a while.
We just wanted something new. Fortnite‘s latest chapter delivered.
Freedom of choice
When I dropped into Fortnite‘s new Chapter 4 Season 1 update, I went on about doing my usual weapon testing. Like every season, I decided to check out the season’s new SMGs and gimmick weapons since they’ve been historically terrible. While I expected to laugh at the new Machine SMG, a type of fast-firing close range option that’s usually really weak, I instead felt like I just opened an early Christmas gift. Not only did it actually fire well, but it felt like a weapon I could actually win with.
I quickly realized that this trend followed for every single weapon in the game. That even includes the pistol, which has always been a weak link in Fortnite. What I’ve found in the latest chapter is that each weapon is now sufficiently powerful, but only when used in specific ways. For example, the SMG has an impressive damage output and can be shot up to medium range, but its aim and damage rate makes it more difficult to use from afar. The red dot scoped rifle is perfect for quick long-range shots, but sucks up-close.
While this sounds like the standard for any modern shooter, its weirdly foreign to Fortnite. Past chapters always had a few guns worth constantly seeking out, but that was countered by a slew of inconsistent guns that were hard to get a feel for. I’m reminded of something like the Charge SMG, a gun that players had to charge in order to fire a flurry of bullets and that never felt advantageous in any matchup. Let’s not forget the classic Ranger Assault Rifle, which had decent medium firing range but did practically no damage. Previous updates simply had guns that just didn’t have much utility no matter how hard I’d try to make them work.
That’s finally changed in the latest chapter. Now everything feels more balanced and viable for once, which makes playing with a team even more fun. It’s like having a JRPG party with everyone playing different classes. Each weapon serves a different purpose, reducing that repetitive rat race to find the few top-tier guns scattered around the map.
Epic Games has possibly presented us with the most important update to ever come to Fortnite, even if it doesn’t seem that immediately game-changing. Though Fortnite shifts around with each update, I’m hoping that this new gameplay philosophy doesn’t change.