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This free open-world game is a genuine GOTY contender

This free open-world game is a genuine GOTY contender

Building a brilliant experience

If LEGO Fortnite had been released just a few weeks earlier it would have easily made it onto my Game of the Year list. There, I said it. It’s the best thing to happen in Fortnite since the OG seasons only a few days previous. Let’s be honest, Fortnite is having a hell of a year. For a battle royale that is now over five years old, you would expect the game to be cooling off, but more people are playing than ever.

Not only did the OG season excite everyone, bringing back leagues of players - plus a bunch of streamers who made their name on old-school Fortnite - Epic also managed to launch three new games inside their ecosystem. Three games that are not LTMs (limited-time modes), but are here to stay, making Fortnite a platform, rather than a ‘game’. And the success story is already written, on the first day of LEGO Fortnite over 2.2 million people were playing.

The latest Fortnite update has brought with it several new experiences

While I can vouch for Rocket Racing (it’s very fun) and Fortnite Festival is great (but the songs are too expensive) this is my love letter to LEGO Fortnite. It’s a very new love, but it’s love all the same. As a fan of Fortnite and Minecraft, giving me this new game mode was only going to go well.

That’s what LEGO Fortnite is, or at least, how it starts. This is a survival game, which means lots of collecting wood and granite, surviving the nights, and improving your base of operations. So far, very Minecraft. You can even build platforms and blocks out of LEGO which can be used as part of the base, or even just a leg up onto taller structures.

The goal, if you can really stipulate a goal, is to build a large and successful village. This is done through village management and upgrading your village by donating materials to the cause. As your village grows you can invite LEGO Fortnite characters to come and live with you. They will help out with gathering, crafting, or exploring. So you can add a dash of Animal Crossing into the mix too.

LEGO Fortnite works as the ideal side project for the franchise. After all, Fortnite contains a building element and it features a deep world of lore that can feed into the LEGO mode adding in new biomes or twists on survival content. Having established a huge platform, Epic Games has been able to bring a wealth of compatible content to their survival mode from the off. Hundreds of existing skins now have a LEGO version and even those that aren’t fully complete still look great. It’s like starting a game with the end-game content already unlocked.

The game itself is an utter joy. While there is crafting, it’s mostly tools, weapons, and pre-fab structures. It does lack the imagination of Minecraft in the early hours, but that soon opens up over time as you get further in and begin unlocking new items. Players are already creating Frankenstein monster vehicles and machines using pieces of technology like we’ve seen in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

What grabbed me from the off wasn’t just the LEGO skins, but the revamped world. Each biome is based on the various places we’ve already seen in Fortnite, except now adapted for survival; the deserts are a hot biome that wears down your health; the ice and snow will slow down your little LEGO dude’s speed. I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see different dimensions, much like the Nether in Minecraft, but perhaps based on the chapters we’ve seen over the years in Fortnite; and given the seasonal content changes we’re now used to, it’s likely we’ll see our LEGO worlds evolve over time.

Epic Games has given players an opportunity. Sure, there are pre-fab houses based on places like Pleasant Park, but giving us access to simple blocks will eventually lead to imaginative builds much like we’ve seen in Minecraft over the years. The only thing holding people back is the way in which blocks are placed, which is a little too finicky for precise placement currently.

Playing in this magical world that feels original, yet familiar, is wonderful. Last night, I was exploring my world looking for new materials, and spotted a rainbow in the distance. At the end of the rainbow was a large fluffy cloud not too far above the ground. Building a tower to reach it I slowly began to hear bouncy music and once much closer could see that standing on the cloud was the LEGO Pride set which features a rainbow of LEGO characters dancing. It didn’t give me anything, there were no materials to gather, it was simply a nice moment.

After a few hours, I was able to build a cosy log cabin, and fill it with furniture including lighting, a bed, and wardrobes that act as storage chests. It felt like a home, the centre of a village that is steadily growing. Peely, the game’s famous banana skin, turned up and made a home for itself, we go out exploring together and they help me fight a bunch of monsters. It’s the start of a hopefully long journey, and with Epic Games promising to keep updates rolling in, I think I’ll be here for the long haul.

Featured Image Credit: Epic Games

Topics: Fortnite, Lego, Xbox, PlayStation, PC, Nintendo Switch