【Fortnite】 – infographic Review 

Fortnite
Score: 7.5
Platform: Win, Win, Xbox One, PS4
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: Epic Games

Fortnite is the Willy Wonka three-course dinner chewing gum of games.

First announced at the Video Game Awards in 2011, Fortnitehas been billed as a revolutionary mashup of action role-playing game and creative building game. It’s also half a dozen other things.

It has long sections of exploration that can make it feel like a survival game. It has combat that you can play like a third-person shooter and/or like a melee brawler. It’s got a massive skill tree ripped straight out of a hardcore strategy game, and the whole thing is powered by a kind of collectible card game.

Fortnite is currently in early access. This review covers the current early access state of the game; we hope to return and update the review as the game itself is updated and released in full. For more information, you can read our full early access reviews policy.

Given the wide variety of apparent influences, Fortnite can, at times, feel like it was designed by committee. It’s relentlessly upbeat, so saccharine in its delivery that it could be a PBS Kids show. The difficulty curve matches that tone, with early missions so simple that you could roll over them with a stroller.

Until you can’t.

Eventually, Fortnite gets really hard. It requires that you pay attention to and dig into its systems, and when I did, this seemingly juvenile title delivered a surprisingly mature metagame.Fortnite

In Fortnite’s fiction, the majority of the world’s population has been killed off in a series of apocalyptic storms. Humans have been turned into man-eating zombies called husks who wear their victims like a hoodie, with the tops of their heads dangling around their shoulders. By some feat of design these monsters, which you will slaughter by the thousands, are actually kind of adorable. It’s as if Pixar sat in to do a season of The Walking Dead.

That backstory puts players in the role of the Commander, a faceless avatar with a whole lot of resources at their disposal. You’ll split your time between back-end resource management and third-person combat. In motion, Fortnite is primarily a base defense game where you take control of one of many collectible heroes and push back against a horde of onrushing husks. I spent much of the early game crafting a persistent “homebase” out of the materials and traps I collected in each mission while also leveling up my favorite heroes.

Unlike many other examples of the base defense genre, where players must rely on prescribed buildings, I had complete freedom over the shape of the thing I made. Narrow catwalks, peaked roofs, delicate spires and minarets can all be created using Fortnite’s contextual interface. The game doesn’t have quite the same variety of materials as what you’d find in Minecraft, but creating dramatic shapes was a hell of a lot faster and easier.

To support that kind of freedom to build, Fortnite offers players many different ways to fight. Pistols, automatic rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, swords, axes and spears are all at your disposal, which means that you can engage husks effectively at any range. You can perch yourself in a tall tower and pick them off one by one, or wade into them with a scythe and cut them down like wheat.Fortnite

On a micro level, the combat is a lot of fun, especially in multiplayer. Melee combat feels especially good. I spent most of my time as a highly mobile assassin-type ninja, wading into the fight and taking down a half-dozen husks in one swing. Timing my swings was key in order to build up combos, but I never felt like my character’s animations were slowing me down or keeping me from moving on to the next kill.

Eventually I teamed up with a powerful outlander who was able to streak through clusters of husks with powerful area-of-effect skills. Soldiers that I met were able to lay down fire against the flanks so that our constructors could tend to the base and position traps. Every class has something to contribute and all of them look like a blast to play, especially at high levels.

On a macro scale, however, things got old quickly. Each of the game’s missions is just a variation on a theme. Either the horde of husks comes from one direction or the other direction. Sometimes you fight them off all at once, other times they’re scattered around the map in smaller groups.

I’m nearly 30 hours in and so far the vast majority of missions play out the exact same way: Explore the map, uncover the objective, fire up the MacGuffin and defend it from hundreds and hundreds of onrushing husks. It gets old, and it actually got painful for me. I had to switch from keyboard and mouse to controller because the endless, monotonous clicking was making my hands hurt.Fortnite

It’s the exploration bit that takes a particularly long time. At the beginning of each mission, players are unceremoniously dropped onto the map and told to run around looking for materials. You can spend your time harvesting resources like metal and wood if you’re low, but more often than not it’s a race to find the half-dozen or so treasure chests on the map that spill high-end loot. By and large it’s a slow and selfish time as every player scavenges for themselves.

Eventually, someone gets bored and triggers the Atlas on the map — a giant laser that pushes back the storm clouds overhead — which sets off the end-of-mission wave of husks. For ten minutes or more there’s a grueling fight, but it’s the same fight every time. Lightning streaks down on a few spawn points, the ninjas and the outlanders crowd around them and everyone else sits back to take potshots at any husks that squeak past.

I expected more variety in the mission types, and in the enemies themselves. Perhaps there is some once you get into the game’s 40th hour.

But I may actually make it into that 40th hour in time; I keep coming back to Fortnite because it has small flashes of brilliance all over. The procedurally generated environments are cohesive. Each one feels unique and they’re fun to walk around in, even if they are the backdrop to the boring scavenging phase that starts off every mission. Fortniteasks players to use the contextual building systems in unique ways, both for simple exploration and in timed challenges. I just wish they’d ask players to use it a little more. Easter eggs, like a treasure chest that turns into a mimic, are all over. The voice acting is top notch and the characters are endearing. The reward system is straight out of an action role-playing game. Literal treasure chests are around every corner. When they’re opened, they explode with loot, including resources, currency, blueprints, weapons, traps and more.Fortnite

There is such a constant flood of materials and rewards coming at the player that it’s almost overwhelming. Trouble is that even once I started to get a handle on what all of the rewards meant, very little of the game’s loot is actually useful.

Collectibles quickly became a kind of kindling that I would throw into the fire, burning them up to get over the spikes in difficulty. Rare, playable heroes that looked like a lot of fun had to be retired — literally removed from the game in exchange for experience points — so I could juice the same ninja I’d been using for the past four days. Melting down guns and swords gave me the currency I needed to level up my weapons. Tossing traps into the chipper was the only way to improve the killing power of the ones I actually used. Fortnite became an actual grind that required sacrificing most of what I earned in the hopes of turning those few, high-level trinkets I had collected into something powerful and deadly.

And that’s where the danger lies for Epic.

Take the controversy that erupted just days after its release into early access. Players who had binge-played for more than 50 hours and reached the level cap in a matter of days complained that there wasn’t enough loot in the game. They’d hit a hard difficulty cap and their only way forward was to spend real money on loot crates in the hope of getting more rare items. Epic’s response was a laundry list of tips and tricks aimed at getting people over the hump… and a care package of 15 loot crates for every player as a make-good. Since then, what few loot crates I’ve earned in-game feel like they’ve got more stuff in them. But it could just be my imagination.

The bottom line is that it would be really easy for players to pour money into Fortnite, hundreds of dollars at a time in fact, to fuel its leveling mechanic or just to unlock new characters to play. But consumers should understand that’s the economic model of a free-to-play game. This is a true early access period, and Epic is already charging you for admissions. Fortnite is still under construction, and if you’re spending money on random loot you should absolutely understand that whatever you find in there could get nerfed or devalued because of a simple design tweak.Fortnite

Between its muddled design and free-to-play monetization, it would be easy to write off Fortnite as destined for mediocrity. And yet here I am, dozens of hours into the game and ready to get back on the treadmill. That’s because deep inside Fortnite is a compelling management game.

Hero characters don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re actually supported by squads. Your homebase’s EMT squad gives your hero more hit points, while your fire team alpha helps them do more damage. The corps of engineering will make traps more effective and the scouting party helps make heroes more resistant to damage. Building these squads correctly is as much an art as it is a science; it involves matching leaders to subordinates that share the same personality.

Unfortunately, the game does an awful job of explaining how squads work. I had to go out and find a community-made video to even get my head around it. It’s oversights like that which must be ironed out over the course of this months-long early access period if the game is to survive.

WRAP-UP

I started out really disliking Fortnite, but now that I’ve dug into its metagame, I actually want more. I want more of its collectible heroes so that I can explore different classes. I want a whole garage filled with shiny new survivors that I can mix and match into the perfect support squads. I want epic weapons with unique abilities to unlock. I even want more of the game’s sickly sweet storyline, which so far has been punctuated by fantastic voice acting. And I can get all that, so long as I’m willing to put up with the same, redundant gameplay for another 20 hours or more.

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