When it was first revealed that Fortnite would be going back to its roots for a reason and bringing back its Chapter One map, I was thrilled. As someone who started playing Epic Games’ enormous battle royale title this year, I’ve only ever experienced the game from Chapter Four onwards. I’d completely missed what many consider to be the golden era, seemingly with no way to ever truly know what all the fuss was about.
Last week, that changed with the launch of Fortnite OG. Hopping onto the Battle Bus right now is basically like entering a time machine back to 2018 - specifically, Chapter One: Season Five - with fan-favorite points of interest like Tilted Towers, Greasy Grove, and Risky Reels back on the map, not to mention all the classic weapons and items available to use. Throughout the month, the game will be updated further with more nods to the different seasons that comprised that legendary original chapter. It was supposed to be beautiful.
Clearly, it’s been a hit with many - it was announced that the day after the season launched (Saturday, November 4) that Fortnite had its biggest day in history, with over 44 million players logging on and collectively racking up 102 million hours of playtime. However, upon loading the game up myself and diving in, I was quickly disappointed. So many features I’ve been used to, like being able to drive cars, raid Holo-Chests with rare guns, and activate Reality Augments (for extra perks and abilities), are completely missing. Beyond all that though, Fortnite OG’s biggest issue is its lack of consideration for Zero Build players.
For those unfamiliar, Zero Build was added to Fortnite last year, giving players a new way to play that doesn’t involve harvesting materials and constructing defensive structures to battle it out on. Epic Games describes it as a “fast paced and more tactical” version of the battle royale, and since I started playing Fortnite, it’s always been my preferred way to play.
Regardless of whether you choose to play Zero Build or Build mode, Fortnite’s map remains the same, and for obvious reasons, that means that since last year, new maps have been developed with Zero Build in mind as players naturally have less traversal options. To scale a sheer cliff, you need either a Utility Item like the Grapple Glove, or a pre-placed zipline, otherwise you’ll just have to walk around the long way - not like in Build mode where you can just make your own bridge. Up to this point, this sort of traversal was accommodated well, and playing in Zero Build never felt like a lesser experience to me.
This brings us back to Fortnite OG, and the reintroduction of a 2018 map that hasn’t been altered to suit a main mode that thousands play every single day. Some of the enormous cliffs are a nightmare to traverse. In one of my matches, I was lucky to survive without dying from Storm damage since one wide, tall crag had clearly been added to the game with the idea that players could simply build a structure to hop over to the other side. Instead, I was forced to run down the full length of it since I didn’t have a Utility item in my loadout. Although it’s possible to find Grapplers (an item which allows you to latch on and swing to faraway surfaces like cliffs and trees) as well as the occasional Rift-To-Go (which teleport you straight into the air so that you’re able to glide away) in the new (old?) map, you can’t assume that you’ll always have one in your inventory to get yourself out of dicey spots.
I really wanted to enjoy Fortnite OG, and while I do adore a lot of the unvaulted items and weapons (the Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle has my entire heart), it’s frustrating to play in a map that makes me feel punished for playing the mode I prefer, especially when there’s no alternative map to play on for the duration of the season. Adapting to the changes in the loot pool is one thing, but being forced to choose either a lesser experience or face an entirely different game mode that I’m not practiced in is another.
Obviously, my complete lack of nostalgia for 2018 Fortnite is bound to influence my opinion here, but as far as I’m concerned as a Zero Build player, Fortnite OG is a worsened experience of the battle royale I love. While it’s fantastic to see a surge in popularity as a result of the season, I’m sincerely looking forward to all of the modern tweaks and nuances coming back into play when it’s over.
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Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.