Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Epic Games, People Can Fly
Publisher: Epic Games
Official Site: Fortnite
Release Date: July 25th, 2017 (Early Access)
Where to Buy: Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store
In this day and age, it is hard to find anything zombie related that doesn’t already feel like it has been beat into the ground. However, Fortnite brings a breath of fresh air into the genre with some new and interesting villains and a unique view on a base defense game. Despite some of its interesting creative and mechanic choices, there is a lot to wade through in this sandbox shooter from Epic Games.
Fortnite is a co-op sandbox base defense title that allows you to build your base from the ground up. What are you building this base for exactly? The Storm has caused most of the world’s population to disappear and has left the Husk, man-eating zombies, in their place. As the Commander, it is now your job to protect the survivors, equip your defenders, and to save what is left of the human race from the Husk invaders.
As much as I really wanted to enjoy Fortnite, there is just entirely way too much going on to really get into the game. It is a co-op sandbox shooter built onto a base defense game with a little Minecraft thrown in. Oh, and to top everything off, there is a sort of collectible card game aspect as well. If your head isn’t spinning yet, you should try actually keeping up with everything that Fortnite has stuffed into its experience. With massive, sprawling skill trees and (what seems like) a ten-hour tutorial, it is really easy to get overwhelmed. Even worse, it seems like the skill trees don’t even really do much to bulk up your character or your defenses.
Luckily, at least to start, the game is incredibly easy so you don’t really need any perks to progress anyway. Combining the easy gameplay with the colorful, cartoonish graphics, I almost wondered if it was a game meant for kids. The 12-year-olds yelling at me over chat definitely didn’t help this assumption. However, don’t let your first few hours of the game fool you; Fortnite gets difficult, and it gets difficult quickly. Focusing on resource management, along with actually fighting the Husks, will become crucial as you start to quickly run out of bullets and materials to reinforce your bases.
Despite my complaints, Fortnite really does have its stronger points, which is why I’m still holding out hope for the final release. One of the absolute best parts about this game is the writing and the voice acting that brings it to life. This zombie shooter has an excellent sense of humor, and it will keep you giggling as you build your base and protect humanity. You may recognize a familiar voice from in your robot companion, Ray; Ashley Burch (Horizon Zero Dawn, Life is Strange) really brings the character to life and she is a joy to listen to.
While the building aspect of the game takes a bit to get used to, the possibilities are truly endless. Your forts can be as wide or as tall as you’d like. Large balconies, pointed roofs, elaborate arches, traps galore…You name it; it’s probably possible to bring it to life in one way or another in Fortnite. Some of the bases that people in the community have created are really something to admire. And not only are the creative choices almost endless, the fighting styles vary as well. Your avatar has the ability to use multiple melee weapons along side with a plethora of pistols, rifles, cannons, and other weapons to disband the zombie army.
All in all, Fortnite has more than enough to keep you interested, but it is kind of a mess. There is so much that needs your attention that sometimes I didn’t even know where to start. Which is a shame, because the parts of the game that are good are really good. The story, the writing, the unique zombie hybrids, and the voice acting all set this apart at something unique. Since this is technically still a beta, I’m holding out hope that the developers will really take a look at the game. It’s clear that it takes inspiration from all sorts of games, which is great, but a bit more focus definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing. Or maybe a bit more emphasis on learning the basics before throwing the card collecting and complicated skill trees at players.
The final version of Fortnite is set to release sometime in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. In the future, I can totally see this being popular with Twitch streamers. If you link your EA account with your Twitch account, streamers are able to give their viewers quests and duties to perform in the streamer’s main world. Fortnite has quite a bit working in its favor, and my only hope is that it really grabs onto the things that truly make it a fun experience.
Verdict: While Fortnite has so much to offer, there is such a thing as too much. The various inspirations that came together to create the survival shooter are just way too overwhelming. Fortnite definitely has its shining moments: excellent writing, talented voice actors, and creative designs. Luckily, there is plenty of time for the developers to work on providing a bit more focus.