About half a decade ago, the concept of Fortnite was first revealed. A fun way to survive a zombie style apocalypse while allowing the player to build a fortress to keep themselves safe. With it’s base building features and in depth character progression, this isn’t just some tower defense game. While it is still in it’s early stages, Fortnite definitely appears to have legs for the marathon it intends to run over it’s lifespan.
Fortnite takes place in a world where a climatic event simply known as the storm has caused a zombie style takeover of over 90% of the human race. Storms grow and are taking over the few safe areas left and your role is to push back these storms and find a way to rid the world of the army they create called the Husk. To do this, you will have to create a home fortress around the storm shield which appears to be the only true safe place. As you go on missions to improve functionality of your base and help destroy the Husk, you will scavenge for items to help you build defenses and craft weapons.
There is a lot going on in Fortnite. The concept is simple as you pick a hero, find and scavenge materials and weapons, build defenses and build a base. Players can equip 3 different weapons and will always have a pickax with them to scavenge. You can literally tear anything apart. Tear down an entire house wall by wall for the wood and materials. There is almost nothing you can’t do for materials. While this is Fortnite at it’s core, there is so much going on under the hood that gives players a ton of customization options and ways to perfect your hero. Like really; a ton. It can seem overwhelming to those who aren’t experienced with deep RPG mechanics but doesn’t seem to hinder the player experience if you don’t fully embrace it.
Players start with Ramirez, one of the main heroes that can be used but new heroes are unlocked simply by playing the game. A large portion of rewards, including new heroes are received through RNG-style drops by cracking open pinata llamas you get as rewards. A common theme of color coded loot that follows games such as Destiny and Borderlands is also present here as well. There is a ton of loot to earn and even getting a hero or weapon you already unlocked is special. You may get two of the same hero but each hero may have preset abilities or stats that they improve upon that are different from each other. This helps give you more reasons to play, as every reward is unique. Weapons are crafted using schematics you find in the world. A weapons durability degrade after prolonged use as well so even though you build a weapon, finding the materials to build another one is just as important too. As you continue to find everything needed to build the perfect base and craft your items, you will also need to level up your heroes and weapon schematics. Apply XP to these to help stats and provide more use through unlocked abilities. While you are scavenging, you will also find survivors that have many uses. Survivors can be assigned to teams to provide bonuses to the base based on their abilities and you can get additional bonuses if the team share similar personalities. Use defender class survivors to have NPC style defenses but make sure you keep them armed and have a ton of ammo. Send survivors on their own voyages to get materials or search for other survivors. Even your survivors have color coded loot classes with different abilities each time you find them, including the same person. You are also responsible for levelling them up as well. Top all this with multiple relevant skill trees that look as in depth as a quantum physics majors homework and you can see yourself pouring in 100’s of hours into Fortnite. Our only real concern is that Fortnite doesn’t fully explain what the benefits of these NPC’s are without the player diving deep into the interface and reading their abilities which may confuse non-RPG focused players.
With everything Fortnite offers though, the gameplay is what makes it fun. As a third person shooter, it really feels like Borderlands but with a different view perspective. There are decent NPC’s to enjoy as well. Speaking of Borderlands, you get direction as the commander from a little flying robot named Ray that sounds like teenage girl and provides some fun dialog that seems a lot like Claptrap from the Borderlands series. Everything feels smooth, the animation is fun and appears a lot like a blend between Overwatch and Plant vs. Zombies. The maps are fun to explore and are very well designed to embrace the concept of building. You see a chest on top of a mountain, build stairways to get to the top of the mountain. Fortnite really embraces the idea of make the world into what you want.
Fortnite right now is in early access but feels very much like a full game with the amount of time you can pour into it. The only downfall is that a lot of the loot drops are RNG dependent but that is also a plus to some. RPG mechanics are deep and the many different ways you can customize your forts show that fort building wasn’t just a side mechanic but a main focus. Epic Games and Gearbox have done an amazing job at bringing these styles and world together in an overall fun experience. In our opinion, Fortnite could easily be a game of the year contender.
Fortnite is now available via the Xbox Store, starting at £34.99.
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