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Lego Fortnite's first big update squashes bugs and adds a launch pad

Epic's standalone survival crafting game saw its first update on Tuesday, smoothing out some of the new game's rough edges and adding a flurry of quality of life improvements.

We've covered Lego Fortnite since it launched last month, when the new title lured in 2.4 million simultaneous players. On the face of it the game is a Lego-fied version of Minecraft, but the game actually blends together a few well-loved gameplay loops that players who loved cozy titles like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and Valheim will find themselves right at home with.

A little over a month after its launch, Lego Fortnite's content was beginning to run dry for players who dove in headlong in December (present company included). Unfortunately, the game's first big update doesn't add the massive swath of new content that some players were hoping for, but it does improve things across the board, fixing a lot of little problems and quality of life complaints that the game's early adopters were running into.

First off, Lego Fortnite is making it easier to get around the map with the addition of launch pads, a predictable item for longtime Fortnite players but a welcome one nonetheless. The launch pads should make giant ugly staircases a relic of the past while alleviating some of the pain of traversing the game's massive procedurally generated maps without proper vehicles or steering wheels.

Building-oriented players also get some tweaks to make things go more smoothly. Builds will now clear out nearby flora automatically and fit better onto slopes, since totally flat ground is relatively hard to come by. New floor, wall and roof options have also been added, including smaller pieces intended to make building less awkward for anyone getting fancy.

Epic is also adding more Lego styled skins into the game (Ahsoka Tano, Spider-Man, etc) and a a trio of new villagers (Bushranger, Rustler, and Tomatohead). Villagers will also be able to open doors, which is actually a considerable improvement considering how many times they get stuck beyond the castle gates and can't get back to the oven for their late night gig baking pumpkin pies.

The full list of fixes is pretty long so if you've been waiting for it it's well worth reading through the whole thing. Some big bugs should be squashed now, including the one where players spawned in the world stuck under a building (we never saw this one but the Lego Fortnite Reddit was certainly aware of it).

Beyond the specific bug fixes, improvements to stability, performance and the in-game physics should improve matters for ambitious players who bounced off of the game out of frustration (shoutout to my server-mate building us a monorail!). Hopefully the cumulative effect of these changes results in a smoother experience, because the game did seem to be catching and lagging quite a bit for some players, even on high-end hardware.

There's a lot in here but the patch does stop short of addressing some core complaints from the game's enthusiastic early player base. Unfortunately, it looks like servers are still limited to 15 villagers in total — a hard cap that discourages expansion and big multiplayer builds. There are no new biomes yet so wholly fresh content is in short supply, but it makes sense for Epic to nail down the basics before adding in new areas to explore. It's also not clear from the notes if the fixes will alleviate the "high complexity area" errors a lot of players have seen, sometimes even on modest builds, but we hope so. The game is a blast so far and we're looking forward to getting back to building that pizza oven and open-air frost biome cafe. It's also been nice to ignore the siren song of battle royale in favor of Lego Fortnite's cute gameplay and peaceful pace, which at its best conjures the magic of Animal Crossing New Horizons.

The game's cozy vibes are actually key to Epic's actually quite ambitious plans with the title, which joins Fortnite's traditional battle royale modes along with Rocket Racing and Fortnite Festival as standalone games available in the Fortnite ecosystem. That ecosystem is the name of the game and Epic is working to build out some alternative tentpole experiences to appeal to players who might not be fight-to-the-death types.

These days, installing Fortnite drops players into a virtual storefront stocked with free playable experiences. Some of those experienced are made by Epic itself, like Lego Fortnite, but most are "user-made" with Epic's beefy game development toolkit. While many games within the game are made by budding amateur game designers, others are branded experiences, like recent survival games from YouTube megastar MrBeast.

To expand Fortnite's appeal, Epic needs to cast a wide net, bringing in players well beyond those who relish creeping around a cartoon map with a sniper rifle, dressed as Darth Vader. So far, Lego Fortnite is Fortnite's most compelling alternative offering — and a game that's likely to build more momentum as the updates keep rolling in.