Fortnite has been in what many would consider development limbo. We’ve been hearing about it for a while, but it wasn’t sitting in hell as a project that was going nowhere. It was just constantly being updated so that Epic Games could put out something they were proud of. Now we finally have the game in Early Access via Epic’s portal system. Can this much time being put under a microscope really help out the game? We downloaded our review copy and gave it a quick spin.
Fortnite is a survival shooter/construction game where you and a band of teammates must survive as long as you can against a horde of monsters. As the story goes, one night a purple storm enveloped the Earth, taking away 98% of the population with it. The remaining survivors on earth have to deal with an army of creatures that swarm and aim to kill everything in their path. In order to stop them, you build a fort with your friends that is both a safe haven and a strategic point of defense in order to fend them off.
You and three others will spend the day looking over an entire city looking for resources. You’ll chop down trees for wood, break walls for stone, chop up cars for metal, and find other resources and other building materials through the buildings and ruins in your path. Some of them are straightforward and have a single use, others can be used for various projects and weapons depending on who you have in your party and how they can best be utilized for survival.
The big thing you need to be looking for is power nodes, which when filled with fuel will send a giant laser into the sky and clear the purple storms above to make the area safe and give you a victory. The best way to accomplish this is to seek it out and build around it if possible while locating furl, but not all of them are easily accessible and may require you to survive one or two nights before you make it. If you have fuel that is. This can be one of the most daunting tasks as it is treated like a side objective, but it is the primary way to win a round. That’s not including the fact that the monsters will come after you once they see you’ve started charging the beam.
The best part of Fortnite is the construction tool interface, which works like a dream as you simply aim and hit a button to build walls, floors, stairs, and other resources needed to keep the monsters at bay. The interface will automatically take from your pool of resources without you having to do any crafting management and build what you need on the fly as you move around. However, much like you would expect in games where you build things, it’s easy to lose track of what you have and you could run out of resources too quickly if you get construction happy. If you have the right resources, you can build traps for the monsters like spiked floors or electrical nodes to fry them up, but it takes a lot of searching to get the items needed to make just a home full of traps.
As you progress through the game, you’ll need to improve your building skills, like including special walls for players to get around, or different utilities to use as defense while taking the monsters out. Everything gets progressively harder over time and can be a challenge if you don’t advance your skills beyond the basic building. If you fail in a level, it resets from the beginning and you have to start over. You can bypass this through… ugh, microtransactions.
And here’s where the game takes a nosedive for us and costs the game some of what would have been a stellar rating. Because in order to get really good things, you have to spend money on loot boxes. Yeah, you can get them free by winning, but like any game using this system, those are few and far between. You need to get these because all of your weapons break over time, meaning if you don’t have a supply of them around, you’re screwed. And your characters definitely have a glass ceiling in skills as you’ll need to get new ones who can do more. Basically, in order to do anything awesome, you have to spend money, and we just can’t abide by that.
Fortnite is a really awesome concept with a great set of mechanics and a way to have fun as a team that isn’t solely built on how well you shoot. But the fact that I have to break out my credit card in order to make anything great happen is a disappointment and makes me not want to play the game anymore. If that’s your bag, good on you—but that’s just not for us to recommend when many gamers don’t have an unlimited cash supply to be great.
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