Fortnite Early Access Preview

Fortnite enters Early Access with a bit too much clutter which takes focus off its versatile building system and enjoyable zombie slaughter.

By Woozie, Posted 30 Jul 2017

If there’s something certain about Fortnite it’s the fact that it takes its sweet time before properly throwing you into the fray. It does, indeed, have players killing shambling dead early on however, hours later, you’ll still be fighting largely underwhelming packs of enemies which never require much more than a simple square structure and a good amount of bullets to be held off. And it’s a real pity, since Fortnite boasts a pretty potent building system. If you’re still unsure as to what Fortnite is, well, it’s a third person shooter that includes some tower defense elements, crafting, gathering and base-building alongside an overarching management segment. It does, indeed, touch on a handful of things that are very in these days, although, it’s not that tightly knit together at the moment.

Fortnite, Early Access, Preview

Fortnite is split into two major parts. There’s a management bit, which is taken care of away from the action. Here, you’ll handle a whole array of things. There’s research to be done and skill points to be spent. Both of these unlock various improvements to your base and heroes, from offering new avenues of gaining resources to your run-of-the-mill +1 Fortitude buffs. Then, there’s Hero, Survivor and Defender management. Each of these is represented by unit cards of varying quality and can be leveled up individually. Furthermore, they come with their own specific traits which interact with each other. Then, there’s schematic management (schematics are required in order to craft traps and weapons), sending people on missions and even a collection which acts as a sort of sticker book (you permanently use an item in it, it gets added to the list and you get some rewards).

I’ve tried to provide as broad an image of this as I could due to the simple fact that the management section actually boasts one of Fortnite’s biggest flaws at the moment: far too much clutter. You’re constantly bombarded with schematics, heroes, items, Survivor XP boost, Defender XP boosts, Schematic XP boosts to the point where keeping track of the things you have, and what they do, becomes extremely difficult. Add to this the fact that every different schematic comes with different bonuses upon upgrading and you simply have too large a quantity of things to sort through. The clutter extends, in a certain amount, to when you’re on an actual mission. Items can only be crafted while in said mission, which means there’ll be a lot of going through what you can and cannot build. In order to find out how to obtain a required material, you have to go through at least two menus, which, in the field, is a tad too fiddly. A tooltip which explains where you can get said materials, as you hover over them, would have been of invaluable help for those aiming to go for a specific weapon.

Fornite, Early Access, Preview, PC

The way material gathering works is fairly straightforward. You have a pickaxe, you hit stuff, materials fly out and into your inventory. Not too far into the game, you unlock an ability which expedites destroying stuff by allowing you to hit critical spots. As you hit bushes, furniture, cars and lampposts with your trusty pickaxe you always receive wood, stone or metal with other materials, like nuts and bolts, screws, flower petals, having a chance to also drop. The former are used in building floors, walls, ceilings and stairs for your base (or fort, if you prefer), while the latter are required for weapons and traps. As, say, nuts and bolts have a chance to drop only from specific types of objects, I’ve found the process of collecting them to be fairly difficult and not just because of the drop rates, as I’ve mentioned earlier. However, as people play the game and learn more, there’s a chance this will become much easier (which, as far as I’m concerned, still doesn’t excuse the lack of a tooltip).

Prior to the actual defense segment, your team of heroes (the game supports up to four players) goes about the map looking for resources. You’ll go through caves, buildings and forests, some of which may contain surprises. Survivors can be found among the ruins. Destroying a piece of floor with your pickaxe may end up opening a way to a hidden tunnel with some neat loot. Caves, mostly situated on the edge of the map, will provide ore that can’t be obtained from anywhere else. Once defenses are in place and you’re ready to go, you’ll shoot your way through different types of zombies until the timer runs out. The gunplay feels satisfying overall, with some weapons having more oomph than others.

Fortnite, Early Access, Preview, PC

While they can equip every available weapon, Fortnite’s hero classes differ both in stats and abilities. An Outlander will be better at exploring and gathering resources, due to certain passive bonuses they receive upon being leveled up. While defending, they can place an armored teddy bear turret, provided they picked up the appropriate item from the world. Ninjas can initially double jump and throw shuriken, soldiers throw grenades and apply a vulnerability debuff, while tanks are, naturally, bulkier. Every role also has sub-roles which alter certain bonuses and abilities, introducing a good amount of choice. Heroes are obtained through loot drops (or as mission rewards) and, just like everything else, come in different rarities. You’ll also have to level each one individually, with the option of retiring those you’re not using. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say that Fortnite is best experienced alongside other people, preferably while using voice comms. Tasks can be shared, making exploration and building things much easier. Chances are you can even get some synergy going once you unlock certain bonuses.

As far as the building system goes, it’s clearly Fortnite’s best aspect at the moment. Upon having enough materials, you can start building floors, ceilings, walls and stairs. What’s interesting about it is that there are plenty of shapes to play around with. A wall, for example, comes in a 3x3 grid. Editing out the top two rows will create a low wall which stops zombies from crossing over it while allowing players to shoot back. This goes even further, allowing the placement of pillars, walls with a hole in the center and much more. You can get the hang of the more complex shapes by finding stuff like radar towers which require to be built following a shown blueprint. Nothing, however, stops you from experimenting, although the more complex possibilities could be better highlighted at the start. The system is also easily accessible with the press of one key, allowing for building even while in combat. You could potentially build some pretty grand forts with it, provided you had the imagination and skill to do so. While weapons break for good when their durability runs out, crafting resources and even certain buildings are persistent between matches. This can mean that you’ll end up re-visiting a previously built fort, having the option of expanding it. This could turn out to be promising in the long run as you’re prone to remember that one level when the fourth player in your party took down half of your fort added an extra level to your fort, with a design you hadn’t thought of. Fortnite also gives you the option of having AI defenders help out during homebase defense missions. That’s all theoretical, since after you’ve given them a weapon and ammo (which can be hard to come by) they’ll make it their life’s goal to chew through that ammo as fast as possible while, somehow, not really helping much against the zombies.

Fornite, Preview, Early Access, PC

Fortnite finds its visual identity in a fairly Dreamworksesque style, despite not doing anything too crazy. Add to that some very good voice work (RaY, your robotic advisor, is one heck of a welcome) and there’s definitely personality to be found here. And yes, there is an actual story which unfolds as you progress through missions. That being said, from a gameplay standpoint, it currently feels like too much of a jumbled mess. Its many progression systems and abundance of loot run the chance of overwhelming players far too quickly. The way difficulty is introduced, alongside quicker access to explanations of where certain resources can be found also need to be given another look. Once these issues get addressed, Fortnite has the potential of becoming a choice worth considering for those interested in co-op zombie blasting with a bit of base-building added on top.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Fortnite

/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Epic Games
Developer(s): Darren Sugg
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Survival
Release Date: 2017

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