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Fortnite won’t slow down

Fortnite won’t slow down


With its new cyberpunk-themed season, the battle royale continues its trend of faster, more frantic gameplay by channeling the cult classic Sunset Overdrive.

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A screenshot of Fortnite.
Chloe Kim is right at home on the rails.
Image: Epic Games

Fortnite doesn’t seem capable of slowing down — and I’m not just talking about the relentless inclusion of seemingly every piece of modern pop culture. I mean the game itself. Fortnite keeps getting faster, and its latest major update, which ushers in a cyberpunk theme, speeds things up even more.

This is something that has been brewing for some time and really became apparent when Epic added a “zero build” mode to the battle royale. Without that previously defining build feature, Fortnite had to adapt to give players more mobility options: swimming and sprinting, vehicles like cars and dirtbikes. The additions came slow and steady, but eventually, they made the game feel much speedier and more dynamic.

That’s on full display in the new Mega City location in the game, a sort of sci-fi metropolis that looks like every cyberpunk city you’ve seen before. But hiding amongst the copious holographic billboards and high-rise towers are lots of tools for getting around even faster. The new addition is rails that you can grind on; it works a lot like the cult classic shooter Sunset Overdrive, letting you essentially move around like in Tony Hawk but without a skateboard.

The city is full of these rails: twisting around buildings or connecting the huge gaps between them. It’s a lot of fun. But it gets much more interesting when combined with other gameplay elements. The rooftops are full of vents that give you an aerial boost, and there are zip lines everywhere so you can quickly get up and down the skyscrapers. At one point, I jumped off of a building, landed on a rail a few dozen floors below, and used it to grind over to a zip line, pulling me to the top of the building I was trying to get to. It was exhilarating and relatively easy to pull off. I’m excited to see what players who are much more talented than me are able to do.

A screenshot from Fortnite.
Image: Epic Games

What’s nice is that, like most of the additions to the game, this speed increase doesn’t feel forced. Only the new metropolis has been turned into a battle royale skatepark. The rest of the island remains intact, and some of the new locations are even pretty chill, including a hot spring area. If you don’t like the faster pace, you can just avoid Mega City. It’s similar to how you can choose to either play with building on or off.

That gradual sense of change is something that is a hallmark of Fortnite, a game that updates and reinvents itself more than almost any contemporary. The game that I’m playing today bears very little resemblance to the one I first booted up years ago. That’s part of the reason it has stayed relevant for so long. We’re now on the game’s fourth chapter and closing in on six years of a constantly refreshed experience.

The flip side of that whirlwind is that not everything sticks around forever — just ask the seasoned mech suit pilots. The grind rails that make the game so exciting in this moment could be gone in a few weeks or months. But they’re also part of the reason why I keep coming back. And at the very least, they’re a good reminder that we’re long overdue for a Sunset Overdrive sequel.