Fortnite On Switch is five years old, and I have no idea what it is anymore

“Maybe it will be a great time to dive back in,” I thought, “everyone will be on equal footing with all the new additions.” I was very wrong. I should have known that the second I walked into a lobby and realized I had no idea how to get into a game.

The ‘Game Mode’ box that contained the likes of ‘Solo’, ‘Duos’, ‘Squads’ and the then odd special event was just an empty rectangle, with none of the aforementioned options. After about five minutes of searching through the menus (remember that the font is particularly tiny on Switch) I finally found the option to select a game mode. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Fortified Switch
This is just an options page. One. Page.Image: Nintendo Life

If, like me, you’ve also been on a break from Battle Bus for the past few years, you might not have seen the game mode screen in a while, so take a look at the screenshot below above. I was looking for something that vaguely resembled a ‘Solo’ match and came across a flood of words I didn’t understand, celebrity faces I didn’t recognize and more links than an endgame MCU movie could not imagine.

I vaguely remember the announcement that you would be able to create your own islands in Fortnite, but I didn’t expect the amount of options that are now there. I finally managed to find the “Battle Royale” mode in the “Popular” section of the navigation screen. God knows how long I would have searched if I had just started aimlessly browsing through the sensory overload that hit me when I arrived.

With that first hurdle cleared, I jumped into a game (after quite a long loading time) and started to real playing. On the surface, it’s thankfully the same old Fortnite – you stumble upon an island with 100 other poor souls, frantically scavenge the best weapons you can, and then proceed to dispatch your competition to be the last man standing. But it didn’t take me long to realize that almost everything else had changed.

Fortified Wildlands
Now there are bomb flowers. What is Zelda? — Image: Epic Games

In defense of Fortnite, I haven’t followed the game’s story (yes, there’s a plot) for the past four years, so I had to take a brief online refresher course after realizing that I knew precisely nothing of the map locations. The likes of Dusty Depot, Tomato Town, and Fatal Fields are all gone, replaced by similar alliterative drop spots like Lazy Lagoon, Coney Crossroads, and Rocky Reels. And the Battle Royal map is now absolutely massive.

It turns out that the original map – known as the Athena Map or Athena Royale – has been enlarged and reconstructed a handful of times since the last time I played. The island as we find it now is an amalgamation of several different worlds all coming together (I think) and is known as Asteria (maybe?).

Anyway, I did my first games like I always did: find a relatively remote location, eliminate anyone who chose to land near me, then spend the rest of the game getting around the limit of the storm while trying to avoid as much as possible. as many fights as possible. I had no idea where I was most of the time, but getting to the last survivors is still quite a thrilling experience.

What took me a while to realize was how much thing the game has become. Back in the day, there was a weird quest or mission you might stumble upon while playing a match, but now the world is full of XP bonuses, weapon modifiers, “capture points” , gold bars, job offers, NPCs, bounties, etc. I could go on and on, but the point is that most of these things I had absolutely no idea what to do with.

Even the things that I assumed were basic have changed. Think you know what chests are? Some of them now require keys. Know how to drive a car? You’ll have to keep it filled with gas, apparently. It’s still a great fun time, but I can’t help but feel that the simplicity of the original “100 players start, one left” format has been lost slightly.

But maybe that’s the point. From my brief return to the game, it’s obvious that Battle Royale is no longer the be-all and end-all of Fortnite. The other game modes, while overwhelming in number, managed to create a platform for just about any kind of gaming experience imaginable. These range from standard game modes with a twist like “No Build” battles where it’s the same game but (you guessed it) you can’t build to other less combat-based objectives that feel closer to Fall Guys than any semblance of the online shooter I played all those years ago.

Spider-Man Miles Morales Fortnite
Miles seems happy, at least. — Image: Epic Games

Has Fortnite really become a platform for the game rather than a game in itself? Maybe. Am I no longer sure what is happening in 90% of my Battle Royale matches? Certainly. But it still brought me a good time, even though I saw Ariana Grande fire a shotgun at Spider-Man before viciously dabbing his dematerialized corpse…

Are you still playing Fortnite or did you also quit some time ago? Tempted to dive back? You can fill out the following polls, then get off the bus in the comments to let us know.

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