Building has been a key component of the Fortnite formula ever since it launched back in 2017, but its temporary removal has made the game better than ever before. Now, Epic Games is backed into a corner.
With the release of Fortnite Chapter 3 Season 2, Epic finally took the plunge and answered a long-standing call from the community. Building, one of the game’s core mechanics, has been removed. At least, temporarily.
The ability to construct cover and build bases on the fly has been hotly debated among the playerbase for many years, dividing it into two distinct camps: Those who feel that building is what makes Fortnite unique to other battle royale titles, and those who see at as a frustrating barrier between the casual and hardcore.
Well, after just a couple of days experimenting without the feature, I can safely say – hand on heart – that this is the best Fortnite has been since the early days.
For the first time since the game was released, Fortnite players can no longer build in the standard battle royale mode. The ability to collect materials is totally disabled and matches are decided solely in frantic gunfights rather than games of “who can build the biggest tower.”
The decision has certainly got people talking and it’s only fuelled the debate that has been raging for the better part of five years. For those who had long fallen out of love with Epic’s world-dominating battle royale, like myself, it’s given them a much-needed reason to get excited again.
Big streamers such as Tfue and Ninja, who owe much of their success to streaming Fortnite, have echoed the feelings of formerly disgruntled fans, urging Epic to make the change into a permanent fixture.
In a Twitter post, Ninja declared that the days since Season 2 got underway have been the “most fun I’ve had on Fortnite in YEARS.” Meanwhile, the tweak was enough to drag superstars like TimTheTatman away from Warzone to see what all the fuss was about.
Even those who have been vocally critical of Fortnite and its gameplay, such as Dr Disrespect, conceded that removing building has opened up a side of the game that they can get behind.
Fortnite with no building > most fun I’ve had on Fortnite in YEARS.
— Ninja (@Ninja) March 22, 2022
It was actually fun.
Thought I’d never say that about Fortnite.
— Dr Disrespect (@DrDisrespect) March 22, 2022
Fortnite removing building has been a gamechanger
It’s probably not all that surprising that a match of Fortnite without the crutch of spawning walls, ramps, and roofs to get out of a pinch is a vastly different experience. In fact, it completely shifts the experience and it’s all the better for it.
Gone is the fear of running into an enemy player capable of dizzying hand gymnastics to erect a wooden palace complete with doors and wi-fi in seconds. Instead, spotting an unsuspecting Peely on the horizon feels like an opportunity.
Pop-shots are now far less risky and well worth taking because you know that landing those early hits gives you the upper hand immediately. It promotes a much more aggressive style of play and invites everyone out of the bushes and into the fight.
I, like many, was concerned that the removal of building would leave an uninspiring third-person shooter in its wake, but that’s far from the case.
Epic has gone through great lengths to make its gunplay stack up against other modern titles, and it’s a testament to their work that Fortnite is still a blast when all you have is your guns to fall back on.
The gap between the casuals and more experienced has never been lower, as each encounter is a test of your aim and use of equipment rather than your ability to build. The addition of red dot sights and thermal scopes means that anyone who has even dabbled in another shooter can now not only hold their own, but scoop a Victory Royale for themselves.
All-in-all, every single encounter feels fair and balanced, and death no longer saps my motivation to play. It’s far less punishing to lose because you were too slow on the draw than if your opponent trapped you inside a vertical maze after you scored a single hit.
While this might not sit well with the hardcore players who have spent hours in Creative mode practicing building, it does alleviate one of the game’s longest-running issues for those unable to dedicate the time to master the mechanic.
The other side of the fence
As you can imagine, the decision to do away with such a core part of the game’s identity hasn’t pleased everyone. Many still maintain that Fortnite without building isn’t Fortnite at all.
A common argument is that throwing up cover and taking fights to the sky is Epic’s unique selling point – the key feature that separates it from it the competition. Naysayers believe that it adds an extra layer of competition, and if you want to play a battle royale without this mechanic, then there are plenty of other options out there.
Others feel that “no-build” mode is at odds with the design of the map, and it’s actually disrupting matches more than helping them.
“The map is made for building, lots of open stretches of nothing, so if you ever find yourself in an open area getting shot at there is nothing you can do but wait to die and start over,” said one disgruntled fan.
Although this has made for huge news, and it’s certainly brought people back on board for the time being, there’s still plenty of no-build hate. Check out the comments on the Reddit thread above for more examples.
Epic Games stuck in an impossible position
All things considered, it’s hard to argue this experiment hasn’t been a hit. But by carrying out this overwhelmingly successful test, Epic may actually find itself in a spot where there is no winning.
If they choose to make “no-build mode” the standard going forward, they face alienating the die-hard fans who fell in love with Fortnite because of the unique mechanic. Remove it and those who got a taste of the good life will jump ship in droves once again.
Choosing one or the other is going to be controversial, as the community is torn at the moment. Some may see it as a dead game revived, while those who were continuing to enjoy it are counting down the days for building to return.
The safest option is probably to implement both modes and give players the option, much like Warzone’s Rebirth Island. Yet, that could quickly split the community in half as both bid to become the ‘main’ iteration of the game.
Ultimately, the developers are wedged between a rock and a hard place, and they have a huge decision to make about the future of Fortnite.
Only time will tell if Fortnite without building becomes a staple going forward, but one thing is for sure – this has been the most fun I’ve had with Fortnite in years. Long may it continue.