It’s nearly three in the morning. I’ve been sitting in front of my TV playing a new Lego game for almost six hours. My wife is in the same room and playing the same game with me. We’ve completely lost track of time. When I finally realize how late it is and that we probably should go to bed, I’m somewhat surprised to see a big Fortnite logo on the screen when I exit the game. I had almost forgotten that one of the best Lego games ever is now buried inside Epic’s massively popular battle royale. Yet, here we are.
Lego Fortnite is one of three new games within Fortnite launched by Epic late last year as part of the company’s attempt to expand its battle royale into a more Roblox-like platform. And while I’ve enjoyed the other two games a lot—a fast-paced racing game and a Rock Band-like rhythm game from Harmonix—it’s the Lego crossover that stands out the most. The other two feel like extensions of Fortnite. But Lego Fortnite feels like a whole new game that just so happens to live within the Fortnite launcher.
What is Lego Fortnite?
It’s pretty easy to describe Lego Fortnite because it’s basically Minecraft with Lego characters and bricks. There are some key differences for sure, but for the most part, if you’ve played Minecraft, you’ll understand Lego Fortnite: punch some trees, collect some rocks, build some basic tools, create shelter, eat some food, and explore different biomes for new resources to help you craft better items and gear. All of this can be done solo or with other players online regardless of their platform.
But where Lego Fortnite differs from Minecraft—beyond its gorgeous mix of cartoon-like visuals and realistic Lego bricks—is in its focus on building up a village of NPCs. As you play, new Lego minifig characters based on popular Fortnite skins will appear and want to move into your town. Assuming you have the space, resources, and beds, you can invite them to stay and then ask them to help out around town or go off into the wild and explore alongside them. It’s a smart way to make sure that even a young, solo player won’t feel alone or overwhelmed. You can always ask an NPC to come help you fight skeletons and wolves outside town or task them with cooking food using ingredients that you and other townspeople find.
The other key difference between Minecraft and this new Fortnite experience is the ability to build anything using Lego bricks. Yes, Minecraft lets you build stuff with its own digital blocks, but getting a chance to create entire villages and forts using actual Lego bricks is much cooler. The building is also intuitive and easy to learn.
I also appreciate that the game provides you with pre-planned structures, like houses and shacks, but forces you to build these things step-by-step using pre-selected bricks, just like a Lego kit. It’s fun and it teaches you how to build better-looking houses, too.
Lego Fortnite demands many hours, but zero dollars
Lego Fortnite’s only real problem is that to progress further into the game and unlock more features and tools, you’ll need to grind a huge list of materials and spend a lot of time crafting resources. It’s not because the game is trying to sell you on any nasty free-to-play junk to speed up the process—t’s just how it’s designed. I worry that younger players might struggle to upgrade their villages, but I also imagine plenty of people will be fine sinking dozens and dozens of hours into Lego Fortnite making cool stuff and exploring every inch of the randomly generated worlds it contains.
What’s hard to wrap my head around is that this entire game is free. There is no paywall at all. You download Fortnite (which is free) and start playing Lego Fortnite and that’s it. I would have easily paid money for a game like this. And while I know that Epic is counting on kids wanting to buy skins and emotes to use in Fortnite—hence why the company has spent so much time converting many skins into Lego form—you don’t have to interact with any of that to enjoy Lego Fortnite. You can, and I expect many will, spend 100 hours in this game building stuff in either survival worlds or more sandbox-y creative worlds and never interact with Fortnite’s store at all.
Heck, playing Lego Fortnite will even earn you XP toward Fortnite’s battle pass, which means there’s a chance you get some premium Vbucks while you grind away collecting 300 pieces of wood. It’s really weird that this is all free, but I’m not complaining.
It also doesn’t hurt that I can use many of my Fortnite skins, like Darth Maul and Meowscles, inside Lego Fortnite. Finally, Lego Darth Maul can build a quiet mountain cabin out of Lego bricks alongside a giant cat-like human.
Since its release late last year, Epic has updated Lego Fortnite a few times to fix things and tweak settings. And the company is promising bigger updates in the future, which will likely be free, too. So one of the best Lego games ever made is going to only get bigger and better as time goes on. And all you have to do to play it is download Fortnite. 2024 is a weird year.