Fortnite (PC) Review

Site Score
Good: Awesome Zombie Tower Defence, Plenty Of Guns & Traps, Cartoony Artstyle
Bad: Lacklustre Story, Initially Fiddly Build Controls
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(1 votes)
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Fortnite is described by People Can Fly and Epic Games as a cooperative sandbox survival game but at its core it truly is a tower defence game. The game has just entered into early access after initially being unveiled back in 2011. The game is currently available for Windows PC, macOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a full free-to-play release expected in 2018. However, despite being in development for a long time do the zombie hordes live up to the billing or is this one zombie game too many? Let’s find out!

Straight away players are going to notice the art style, which is perfect for the type of game People Can Fly and Epic Games are portraying. It is a cartoony style that keeps things light-hearted, far away from the “realistic” gory zombies in the likes of Resident Evil or, love it or hate it, the Nazi zombies element of the Call of Duty franchise. This style is used game wide to create a distinct visual experience with nothing that seems out of place. This helps players on multiple angles with game world objects and zombies able to be distinct enough at a simple glance. This is key for players when they need to collect a specific resource and to determine the type of threat inbound.

Fortnite is rather reminiscent of the Orcs Must Die! franchise where players build floor, wall and ceiling traps to defend against waves. This similarity is far from a bad thing though. Fortnite takes these concepts and expands on them in multiple angles, resulting in a similar but better game. Firstly, players must actively (at least initially) wander the map to collect resources.

Players are always armed with a trusty, upgradable, pickaxe. Swinging it at game world objects from cars and walls to rocks and trees will see the player obtain resources of an appropriate type. As the pick hits the objects they carry on the visual cartoony style with a bit of a comical wobble, visibly becoming broken as you continue to swing. Some containers, not just loot chests, can be searched and this is where players can find special objects or even full traps.

When you have enough resources you can use them to craft. This isn’t just a case of instantly building an item and it appearing in the world. Players will need to crafting what they need before the item appears in their inventory and is able to be placed. This is clearly a conscious decision by the developers to put more emphasis on the building and planning aspects of the game. As you must enter a menu to craft a trap or weapon, it isn’t something to do when the zombie hordes are upon you and your base, even if you have covering fire from teammates. Setting up before activating the various defend points is therefore of much more importance.

Unlike Orcs Must Die! in Fortnite players can literally build a fort, not just arm pre-defined walls to the teeth. Players can build basis floors, walls, sloped stairs and roof tiles. For the first couple of games this is probably what players will stick to. Initially, this makes building look a tad limited but it all opens up with advanced editing. For instance, by customising walls players can make walls of differing heights or add a door to be able to pass through it. Players can even customise stairs to make them go up at right angles or be full stair cases rather than just slopes. These little edits combine to make a robust building system that is, past the initially fiddly-ness, easy to use.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that any of the playing locations in Fortnite are large but for what is at its core a tower defence title they are big. I’ve not played a game from the genre with quite as much size though it is a requirement for the resource collection, and to some extent the building, side of the game. Mini-objectives such as saving survivors from parts of the map also benefit from the size. If everything was crammed on top of each other the exploring aspect to find these survivors would be pointless. This isn’t the only incentive to explore the map though as chests of loot can also be found. By making exploring important it means players will get more time out of each and every level.

Omnidirectional zombies is never something players want to defend against. In Fortnite players will have to get used to it though, as often objectives are in small expanses. It is possible via the building tools to change things, funnelling zombies down distinct paths, something necessary as players progress onto harder levels.

The first couple of hours of gameplay will effectively see players plodding through an extensive tutorial. This results in the initial levels feeling extremely easy even for novice players. The length of the tutorial is, almost unfortunately, a necessity due to the amount of outside of the action things available to players. From the glorious loot llamas and the huge skill tree to weapon schematics and saved survivors there is a lot that can be done between missions. Aside from smashing the piñata styled loot llamas, one of the most helpful parts is expeditions. Players can send a select number of AI survivors out to gather a range of items. I found this extremely useful for gaining additional materials without spending hours gathering. This speeds up the game and gets players to the construction side of things quicker. Thus, the action comes around that bit faster.

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Fortnite (PC) Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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