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Lego Fortnite is way more expansive than you’re probably expecting

At this point, it’s hard to be too surprised by Fortnite’s radical changes. The mega-popular battle royale game has become a shape-shifter since its launch, dropping frequent seasonal updates that fundamentally alter the core experience. But all of those previous changes are about to seem basic as the shooter is ushering in an entirely new era today. Fortnite is getting a major update that fully transforms it into a platform housing multiple games. Don’t call it Fortnite 2; it’s Fortnite, the free-to-play storefront.

Over the next three days, Epic Games will drop three original, free games inside of Fortnite. That includes titles from the makers behind Rock Band and Rocket League, but the headliner drops today: Lego Fortnite. It isn’t just a new battle royale mode or an excuse to fill the shop with a ton of skins. It’s a full-on survival crafting game that essentially crams Minecraft inside of Fortnite.

It’s the shooter’s most ambitious swing yet, but is it fun enough to stand side by side with the beloved battle royale experience? After going hands-on with Lego Fortnite ahead of its launch today, I’m convinced the potential is there. It may not be the deepest game, but the creative toolset it offers could make it a go-to digital playground for kids.

Survival, Lego style

Lego Fortnite is an entirely separate game from the core battle royale, and it’s much bigger in a lot of ways. Players are dropped into a procedurally generated map, consisting of three biomes, that’s 20 times the size of Fortnite’s usual play space. Players can share their specific seeds with one another and collaboratively build together. It comes with a survival mode, where players need to manage hunger and health, as well as a freeform sandbox mode.

Characters mill around a village in Lego Fortnite.
Epic Games

I’d find the hook quickly. At first, all I could do was gather food, wood, and rocks. The more I collected, the more recipes I began to unlock. It wasn’t long until I built a campfire, crafting bench, a grill that could turn raw ingredients into meals, and a lumber mill that could turn tree branches into planks and rods. I’d soon build an ax to help me chop down trees for more wood and a broadsword that I could use to slash enemies (with some simple one-button attacking, blocking, and dodge rolling). My modest campsite would start to expand by the end of my demo when a nonplayable character (NPC) showed up and said they’d be willing to move into my budding town if I could build them a bed.

That seems to be the bulk of Lego Fortnite’s loop: collect materials, gain crafting recipes, slowly build a village from scratch. It’s not clear how deep that goes just yet. The progression I experienced early on seemed simple as I was just instructed to create more stuff and complete requests for villagers. I only veered off course to follow a shining light to a llama package filled with resources and ambush a camp full of NPCs to steal their goods. The three biomes do scale up in difficulty, but I couldn’t get a sense of whether or not there was much of a guiding story. That makes Lego Fortnite feel a little loose in its early hours. That could be a problem in a standalone release, but the game-within-a-game nature of the project lends it a lot of flexibility; it’s incredible something so fleshed out exists in a free side game.

The intricacies of the game itself aren’t as important as the creative toolbox Lego Fortnite offers. It recreates approximately 10,000 real Lego bricks, which players can use to create anything they can dream of. If that sounds intimidating, the game fortunately includes simple “custom-built” recipes. When I make a simple housing structure, I complete the projects in multiple steps that have me snapping pieces together in a clear template. It lets me feel like I’m building out of an instruction manual, giving me a better sense of how Lego creations are made with easy steps.

A character builds a house in Lego Fortnite.
Epic Games

That’s only a starting point, though. After tinkering around with some starting tools, Epic Games showed off a video of advanced creations made by its own team. These weren’t built with recipes, but rather constructed brick by brick in-game. The results are jaw-dropping. I saw an outdoor canteen filled with villagers and a functioning monorail, among other inventions. Essentially anything you could create with Legos in real life can be made here, and that could give Fortnite its most impressive creative mode yet. I used the little time I had to create my own staircase entrance to a villager’s house, but I imagine the dedicated community will create some mind-blowing things.

Lego Fortnite really feels like the ultimate kid’s game; it’s a toy box inside of a toy box. For parents who don’t love the idea of their kids playing a gun-filled shooter, it’s a much more wholesome entry point into Fortnite that encourages playful creativity. The only question mark is how far Epic Games will take microtransactions in the long term. If it decides to lock building parts and costumes behind V-Bucks (something that plagued this year’s Lego 2K Drive), that could put a dent in its kid-friendly veneer. Though from what I’ve played already, Lego Fortnite seems like harmless fun that’ll spark kids’ imaginations instead of training their trigger fingers.

Lego Fortnite is available now within Fortnite for free.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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