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Fortnite OG is super weird as a Zero Build player

This map is for crankin’ 90s, not running around 

A promotional image for OG Fortnite. There is a Peeley with sprinkles and a person carrying a shotgun wearing armor.  Image: Epic Games
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Epic Games has had quite the eventful month already. Proceedings on the Epic and Google case started this week, and the company released Chapter 4, Season 5 of Fortnite, otherwise known as Fortnite OG, to record numbers. The season leans heavily on nostalgia and brings back early-game content from the popular shooter, recreating the game as it was in July 2018 during Chapter 1, Season 5. The season functions like a perfect time machine: Players can go and revisit the exact map and items they used five years ago. But still, the current time period peeks through in other ways. That’s because the way that some people play Fortnite has changed, and the OG map is less than optimal for Zero Build players.

I, like many players, now play Fortnite in Zero Build mode. This way of playing works exactly how it sounds: It removes the ability for players to harvest materials and build structures. Epic Games first released it in spring 2022, and the addition was pretty groundbreaking. Prior to its release, Fortnite’s entire gameplay gimmick was that players could build structures and use them to gain advantages in fights. However, it turned out the game had plenty to offer its Zero Build players. Zero Build wasn’t just enjoyable; it took off and renewed interest in the game.

Fortnite’s original map predates Zero Build mode by several years. So its return makes for an interesting scenario where Zero Build players are using a map that was designed when that mode didn’t exist. In my time with Zero Build on the OG Fortnite map, it felt a bit clunky. The map has fewer locations, and each location has fewer buildings — meaning each locale provides fewer ways to get creative and either evade or approach a fight.

Overall, mobility presents a larger issue. Some spots on the OG map have high points players can perch on, but reaching them requires a grappling item, or a zip line that can only be accessed by running helplessly across an open area. In terms of items with grappling abilities, there’s the Grappler, which is a plunger-like gun that allows you to move upward, but it’s not quite as smooth and fast-moving as the later Grapple Glove. Some locations don’t have golf carts, so I found myself spending a lot of time running across vast open areas of the map. This makes sense, given the developers originally designed the map with plenty of open spaces for building. As a Zero Build player, I had never bumped into the energy limit more while sprinting than when playing this map. My teammates and I hoarded Rift-To-Gos like our lives depended on it, just because we needed them to position ourselves in a pinch pretty regularly.

Despite all this, I’m still finding things to enjoy about OG Fortnite, even as a Zero Build player. It’s a super different map when compared to the Chapter 4, Season 4 map — and that in and of itself has provided just enough variation in play to make it interesting. Although it felt awkward at first, my friends and I did get a feeling for certain patterns, and where to go and when in a match. On top of that, we only get to play on this map for a month, which is a pretty short period. And personally, I enjoy any update that brings people back to the game. I care less if the map is perfect, so long as it’s a catchy enough idea to cajole my regular squad of players into playing the game again.

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