Fortnite: Battle Royale only looks cuddly on the outside

Epic Games caused a stir a few days ago by announcing Fortnite: Battle Royale, a spin-off of its long in-development early access title, Fortnite. The standalone game is based on the smash hit Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and the “battle royale” genre that it helped make famous.

The project is awkward for a number of reasons. First, Battlegrounds is built on the Unreal Engine, a platform which it licenses from Epic Games. Also, Fortnite: Battle Royale will beat Battlegrounds to consoles with its own free-to-play version in just a few months. Those factors, and the similarities between the two games, has Battlegroundsdeveloper Bluehole crying foul.

The latest version of Fortnite: Battle Royale went live on Epic’s servers just this morning, so I decided to give it a try. After a few hours in-game, I found an experience that is strangely familiar, but with a few very unusual twists.

At first glance, Fortnite: Battle Royale feels like a carbon copy of Playerunknown’sBattlegrounds. It shares the same third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, the same map interface and the same conceit of a constantly shrinking map. But I found the game’s cartoony art style extremely unnerving.

There’s something unsettling about playing a vicious, last-man-standing style arena combat game from inside an adorable, cell-shaded avatar. In reviewing the original Fortnite, I commented on how it felt “as if Pixar sat in to do a season of The Walking Dead.” Pixar’s influence is still plastered all over this new game, but this time around they’ve shown up to remake The Hunger Games.

I could see the impulse to play Fortnite with your kids, and while there’s no blood or gore in Fortnite: Battle Royale it is absolutely not a game for children. It’s simply too violent and too stressful.

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