There have been a variety of nice video games this 12 months. Pokémon Sword and Defend, Demise Stranding, Management, Untitled Goose Recreation, Fireplace Emblem: Three Homes, and Baba is You all hit in 2019. However after I had time to play a recreation, I often opted for one more drop in Fortnite as a substitute.

At this level, I’ve been hooked for practically a 12 months and a half, ever since Fortnite got here to the Change in June 2018. My first objective was to get that elusive first win, however the recreation retains pulling me again with its frequent updates, seasonal occasions, and addicting battle passes. The enhancements and adjustments within the newly launched Chapter 2 have made the sport even higher. There’s at all times one thing to do this solely takes a couple of minutes to get into. These few-minute chunks steadily stretched into hours-long periods for me this 12 months.

In solo modes, I can at all times chase the joys of a win, or spend a while checking off a few my battle move challenges. Or I can play a low stakes recreation of Workforce Rumble (Fortnite’s tackle Workforce Deathmatch) to see some assured motion. Or maybe there’s a restricted time mode, just like the Avengers crossovers, that I wish to check out. Or maybe I can discover some new space of the map, which Epic updates frequently. The sport continuously provides new causes to play and new locations to see, and on the finish of a protracted work day, it was usually much more engaging for me to play an hour of Fortnite and see what’s new as a substitute of choosing up and puzzling by way of a completely new recreation.

And each time I performed, I virtually at all times earned just a few ranges and certainly one of Epic’s splendidly designed beauty rewards from my seasonal battle move, making any period of time I sunk into the sport really feel value it. The cosmetics are a fantastic carrot to work towards, as Fortnite’s cartoony visuals give Epic’s artists the liberty to make a variety of actually inventive and entertaining skins that I like operating round in, like a skeletal pirate, a DJ llama, and Peely, the humanoid banana. Epic’s emotes are additionally extremely entertaining, and I like to bust them out at random moments in a match with my mates. (My favorites are the iconic default dance and the bizarre “Jaywalking” dance.)

Fortnite’s wonderful stay occasions have been a few of the highlights of my gaming 12 months. Take February’s stay Marshmello live performance, for instance — I don’t contemplate myself a Marshmello fan, however I had a blast just about dancing to the music, and I assumed Epic did a fantastic job making the present really feel like an actual live performance. My thoughts additionally nonetheless melts after I take into consideration the unvaulting occasion, the place each collaborating participant obtained to vote on what weapon can be introduced again to the sport — after which, that weapon, the drum gun, was instantly obtainable within the recreation. The shock addition of lightsabers to the sport after this weekend’s Star Wars occasion had me feeling like a Jedi all weekend, very similar to my colleague Andrew Webster:

And who can overlook the black gap occasion, Epic’s solution to cleverly masks a two-day downtime main into Chapter 2? Throughout that first day when the black gap knocked Fortnite offline, with no indication of when it might come again, I stored the black gap operating on my Change for hours, simply in case something occurred. I spent extra of my day than I care to confess feverishly studying each concept I might discover about what may be occurring. The night time earlier than the black gap was rumored to open again up, I used to be so excited I truly had bother sleeping.

Luckily, the wait was value it. Proper from the get-go, Fortnite’s Chapter 2 made an announcement, transitioning you seamlessly from the standard beginning-of-season cutscene instantly right into a drop from the Battle Bus, with a thumping tune accompanying your drop. On prime of that, you weren’t dropping on the acquainted Fortnite island: you and everybody else have been experiencing a brand-new map for the primary time in a protracted, very long time. It was superior.

Fortnite’s Chapter 2 appears like a full-fledged sequel that has me hooked on the sport over again. It appears higher, even in handheld mode on my Change. It has a smaller however higher collection of weapons, making fights really feel extra balanced and truthful. And that brand-new map is simply plain higher than the unique one.

The unique map will at all times be memorable for being the sport’s first, but it surely was fairly flat, had a variety of similar-looking terrain, and it clearly wasn’t designed to deal with the sky-high construct wars that gamers commonly pull off now. Chapter 2’s map is larger, has extra various environments, and is much more vertical, creating extra remoted battlefields that require smarter useful resource administration to navigate round. I additionally love that it stored some previous favourite haunts like Nice Park, Salty Springs, and Retail Row.

Chapter 2’s new island.
Picture: Epic Video games

One other welcome addition in Chapter 2 is traversable water. Swimming downstream is a simple solution to get throughout the map rapidly, whereas fishing is a enjoyable solution to loot for weapons and well being power-ups. And motorboats are a extremely helpful solution to zip across the island’s waterways. (They’re additionally enjoyable, if horrible, to make use of on land).

Chapter 2 additionally added bots to the noncompetitive battle royale modes, and so they have made these modes significantly extra enjoyable to play for an off-the-cuff participant like me. I solely play the sport on Change, can’t construct value a rattling, and my purpose is horrible. So regardless of what number of hours I’ve put into the sport, I’m not truly that good. My earlier technique for a solo win was to loot some faraway place, conceal alongside the sting of the circle for so long as potential, after which attempt to press some form of benefit in a closing one-on-one skirmish. The bots are unhealthy sufficient that I can (often) maintain my very own, although, so I’m discovering that I strategy every recreation with much more confidence than earlier than.

Epic additionally made just a few adjustments to challenges and battle move development in Chapter 2 that make it a lot simpler to stage up your battle move. Now you earn XP not only for kills and challenges, but in addition for nearly every thing you’d be doing in a recreation anyway, like looking ammo packing containers and looting chests. The sport is now very beneficiant about handing out XP — a lot in order that I went from stage 68 to 113 this weekend in just some hours of taking part in. Epic has made it a lot simpler for extra folks to get their battle move to stage 100 by the point the season ends in February.

With Chapter 2, Epic has additionally proven a willingness to discover new sorts of recreation modes. For Halloween, it launched a brand new PvE restricted time mode, which pitted 12 gamers towards the Storm King, an enormous, highly effective monster on the brand new map’s central island. The mode was, for me, extremely troublesome, however I couldn’t cease taking part in it. It was actually enjoyable to work with gamers as a substitute of towards them, and I hope Epic brings extra PvE modes to the sport sooner or later.

The Storm King.
Picture: Epic Video games

2019 was additionally Fortnite’s breakout 12 months for its aggressive scene, and I spent a variety of time watching the qualifiers within the weeks main as much as the Fortnite World Cup. I discover the matches to be fascinating. They’re often gradual, tense, and nerve-wracking till the ultimate couple of minutes, after they turn out to be chaotic firefights with gamers constructing ramps and buildings at a mind-blowing tempo. Each time I watch a aggressive recreation, I often have the itch to hop proper again right into a match of my very own.

Whenever you mix Fortnite’s bite-sized construction and the frequency of updates, you get a recreation that I’ve been coming again to time and again. It’s simply my favourite recreation in 2019. And with the entire enhancements in Chapter 2, I wouldn’t be stunned if I’m saying the identical factor this time subsequent 12 months.

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