Working together to flip a couch, tying blankets to bed banisters and fortifying walls with pillows-these are just a few tactics performed at sleepovers during my youth as we pretended to prevent anything from entering; whether it be monsters or adults. There’s something special about collectively working as a unit as you meld both teamwork and imagination. Epic Game’s most recent early access title, “Fortnite”, attempts to recreate this childhood activity with a combination of creativity, an expansive world and addictive gameplay.
Players are abruptly thrown into a setting of dismay, as a mysterious set of storms begins wreaking havoc upon the world. Rather than dropping godless amounts of rain or destructive high winds, these storms brings something much more sinister; monsters. Taking control as commander of a settlement, players must survive through various attacks of the zombie-like creatures, all while rescuing survivors along the way.
As commander, you’ll be able to embody several heroes which are divided into four individual classes; ranging from the Soldier which offers a higher damage useful in the heat of battle, the Constructor who exceeds in building the most fortified structures, the Outlander whom is capable of seeking out hidden treasures and materials needed to aid in fort building and the Ninja whose expertise allows them to slide past enemy lines to strategically take out devastating opponents in an up-close manner. There are no real disadvantages to each class, as everyone is able to both fight and build; so choosing a hero class is more in tuned to your preferred play style. Understanding that players may grow bored of four hero types, even with the ability to swap out heroes prior to launching a mission, Fortnite’s classes each have a multitude of subclasses which various abilities and stats for both offense and defense.
While heroes can level up via XP earned throughout the game, another aspect is introduced to even further strengthen your characters. Squads add an entirely new strategic element to “Fortnite” as you band together a group of survivor cards which are earned through loot chests and quests. The higher ranked a card is, the more boosts will be placed upon your main hero. After several playthroughs it became apparent that the squad aspect of the game is a lot more in depth than initially thought, as personality types, specific expertise and leveling can expand hero boosts even further. It’s important to note that these survivor cards are different than survivors found on missions, as the latter offer overall XP earned within a given match. Defenders cards on the other hand differ greatly from their survivor card counterparts, as these characters can actually be summoned to aid in combat.
As for combat itself, weapons within “Fortnite” rely on an intimidating yet simple schematic component. Once a schematic is obtained, you’ll be able to craft the weapon on the fly; as long as you have the needed materials. Each weapon has a specific durability, which when reached, results in the weapon breaking. Luckily, the schematic is still intact, making it easy to once again craft. Back at the home screen, schematics are also open to the upgrade component, which in return heighten durability and damage.
The gameplay might be the most stellar aspect, evident by the 30 plus hours I’ve invested in the game within the first few days of release. The core of every mission, whether it be saving survivors or defend a specific place of interest, revolves around a team of four heroes. Depending on the party host, a mission will be selected for the team to complete. It’s important to note that any mission of a higher leveled host can be played by lower ranked party members, so definitely pay attention to the recommended party level before embarking on what may be too deep terrain for newer players.
Once in game, players will have a few quests to perform, as well as their own individual side quests; making each mission more substantial even to those whom may be much lower in level. Collecting materials are as simple as swinging your pickaxe wildly through cars, appliances and buildings. With complete destructibility of nearly every structure in sight, it’s easy to get carried away. Looting drawers and appliances are a smart option to gain even more materials. It can come to no surprise that selfishness can overtake a mission as gamers may find their teammates harvesting materials for their personal home base rather than working as a unit to complete the task at hand; thus, having a team built on communication and compliance can really benefit towards not only the mission, but bounce of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Building mechanics in games as this always have the possibility of outright infuriating setups; however “Fortnite” manages to keep simplicity in usage. A small learning curve is established during tutorial missions, as the game teaches you the diverse methods of building a fort. Having the option to create and play the way you want is a much-celebrated component of the game. For instance players can choose focus on offense, by placing sniper towers along the perimeters of their fortress to keep oncoming enemies at bay. You can also go the defensive route of setting an array of traps through a complicated maze, making it that much more difficult for task to reach the center of the base. The edit tool is yet another marvelous piece of the building gameplay for any wall can become an accessible doorway if you become cornered by the opposing side.
Much of the build mechanics shine within each player’s home base, a continually visited mission spot that becomes increasingly difficult as you progress further. What may start off as four walls and a roof, will be transformed into a fortress of solitude as you begin to combat weaknesses of the structure made apparent by enemies. When helping other online players in their respective bases, a spark of creativity may arise as you notice building techniques that are truly awe-inspiring.
Not discussing the look of the game would be detriment, for “Fortnite” has a truly beautiful design scheme. The game pays homage to classic cartoons like “Looney Tunes” while embracing a photo realistic tone. Though “Fortnite” doesn’t have conventional realism, the illustration gives off an authentic feel that fits within the world as it lets players feel the danger through clarity and detail, while offering security and innocence.
The character designs of the heroes feel reminiscent to games like “Team Fortress” with caricaturized bodies and sculptured faces, which evidently showcase the true allurement of the human body with curves that challenged the preconceived notion of what is mainstream beauty. Even the enemies are sight to behold. Given the name husks, these zombie-like creatures aren’t only animated to create a sense of family friendly terror, but have a much deeper meaning. At close proximity, it’s apparent that husks aren’t your typical rotting corpse. What appears to be the hood of a sweater is actually the prior face to the presumed human that has since transformed into this creature who yearns for destruction and death. It’s almost as if the animators were attempting social commentary of unmasked evil that emerges through a human exoskeleton. Whether that is true or not is up to the developers; though the ability to create such a developed narration goes to show how magnificent the animation is.
Being an early access title, there are several things that can be added to the future like an expansion of players, diverse game modes, larger teams and better explanation of an overwhelming home screen layout an all components that reside within in. That being said, “Fortnite” still manages to pack enough punch with a play how you want style. Offering a genuine mixture of creation and teamwork, there’s no stopping “Fortnite” anytime soon.
***Several tiers of “Fortnite” are available for purchase, with each higher tier offering added items and bonus content. Free to play has been announced for 2018, but no specific date has been set.
***Progressions is sharable between PC and PS4 accounts, yet no cross platform play has been announced.