Rewind to a couple of weeks ago and you will remember that I did a first impressions preview of Epic’s Early Access title ‘Fortnite’, the zombie shooting, survival sandbox and had promised to come back with a more developed review of the title. This our Fortnite Review. My initial thoughts on Fortnite were quite positive, boasting a:
“streamlined and well-developed construction system, incredibly useful crafting system all the way to its wonderfully rewarding exploration and unique class systems each is well thought out and seamlessly works together to create a very customized playthrough. The whole gameplay experience thus far has felt well rounded and polished” — Me!
And for the most part that is absolutely the case. I have been thoroughly impressed with just how well polished Fortnite is even in its Early Access state. Is there room for improvement? Sure, but this title really does feel like a game well on its way to a final product. Epic, in partnership with People Can Fly, have designed a well rounded, entertaining gaming experience.
On my travels through this post zombie world, I have made some notes and further explore just all that this title has to offer. So fast forward to the present and after two weeks of looting and shooting my way through this unique title I am finally ready to share my thoughts. So grab that coffee, sit back and get ready for our review of Epic’s Early Access ‘Fortnite’.
Fortnite is a pretty game plain and simple. It’s stylized art style was a bit of a gamble for the company as we have seen some great and terrible results in other titles who have chosen this approach, but much like Borderlands, the choice to take a bold stylized art style pays off. It allows for a lot of freedom of design and looks great! The enemy designs are unique and over the top and overall it creates a very distinct feeling world.
The world itself is broken down into a lobby like system with an overview world map where you can select missions and then join up with others in a lobby style setting. This allows for last minute customization to a character and load out before the mission is procedurally generated. I have noted a wide variety of variants in both map layouts and settings ranging from forests to small towns all the way to a city central map. All of which bring their own sets of builds, underground, secrets and even randomly generated side missions to explore and complete.
The team play in Fortnite is also well developed. Searching for players happens seamlessly and quickly at present. There doesn’t seem to be too much of a level gap when randomly joining groups and the game lends itself to the co op experience. I do worry a bit about the single player experience which I confess I haven’t spent a lot of time in. I feel like this is one of those games that is best played in a group which does mean that an ongoing and growing community is crucial to the long term success to the game. Hopefully with time Epic will continue to create reasons for players to keep coming back to the game.
3rd person combat is another area that Fortnite feels polished with tight controls, well thought out button layout and seamless keyboard/ mouse to controller switching(for PC). I’ve not noticed any issue in key input lag or sluggish response times and have thoroughly enjoyed the 3rd person combat experience so far.
The 1st person combat experience, however (and yes there is a 1st person option in the menu) was not so fun and action packed. At the time of writing, 1st person combat feels like a placeholder with nothing more than a field of view adjustment and little more. At present there is no gun on screen, no real responsiveness to combat situations such as a feeling of impact, or even an indicator that you have been hit.
As this is still early access I am assuming this is simply a feature that is not yet developed. Hopefully, with some time they will either implement a more polished iteration of 1st person or simply scratch the whole idea all together because Fortnite is a game that lends itself to a 3rd person experience. Having the larger field of view and situational awareness is crucial when in the heat of a zombie rush and I would be concerned the 1st person perspective just wouldn’t be able to deliver that same experience.
The construction system in Fortnite feels like a great evolution of systems we would see in games like Ark or Rust. However, construction is more streamlined here and allows for greater freedom in design and layout. The Snap on approach to building coupled with the quick edit ability allows for design on the fly construction. This, in turn, allows for fast construction even in the middle of a horde rush which has been a tactic that has saved my bacon more than once (you can literally loot bacon in this game, what’s not to love).
In the same vein of thought, crafting is streamlined, quick and can be done mid combat. The crafting system at present feels robust without overwhelming and allows for progressive leveling of existing schematics, something I haven’t seen too often in crafting systems. One of the highlights of this feature is the ability to craft ammo and traps while in combat (assuming you have the resources) which means you never really have to slow down in a firefight. This aids in keeping the combat moving at a breakneck pace which is just the way I like it!
Progression is another well-developed feature in Fortnite boasting several different systems that never seem to overwhelm the player. This has a lot to do with the pace at which they are introduced, as well as how easy it is to work and navigate the systems. There are a few things that I am still unlocking in regards to progression but I will say that the current systems really do allow for some focused, catered development of your playstyle. As someone who loves the Outlander it has been great to focus my progression on looting and scavenging becoming quicker at resource gathering, movement, and overall exploration. With the hero card system you can even go so far as to find a favorite subclass with its own unique abilities.
One of the best elements of these systems is that I never feel like I’m wasting resources so even the case of developing a hero only to switch it out with another, I can take that leveled hero and slot them somewhere else in the system, in turn, adding its benefits either to my new hero or to my base. Overall this has been an incredible system. As a quick aside another feature that I have loved in regards to progression has been the cross progression between my PC account and my PS4 account. Epic gives you the option to link your PSN ID to your epic account. This allows for cross platform progression meaning that I can essentially play the game on the PC with some friends and when that session is done can log over to my PS4 and pick up right where I left off. To clarify the game isn’t cross platform as we understand the concept. You can’t play with your PC buddies from your PS4 but any progression you make on the one does transfer to the other. Personally, I love the system as I have a wide range of gamer buddies who play on multiple platforms.
The other thing to note is that this game does have a micro transaction system in place. At the time of writing, I haven’t spent a lot of time with it and cannot speak to any paywalls that may or may not exist. I will say that at level 15 I haven’t felt that need to purchase anything and have not felt hindered by the system. As the game is still in Early Access all of this is subject to change.
Final Thoughts on our Fortnite Review:
Fortnite is still in Early Access but I have to say that it has more polish than a lot of games that have officially released. The balanced mix of combat, exploration, construction, and cooperation all work together to create a really enjoyable experience. If you don’t mind throwing down for an Early Access title I highly recommend picking up Fortnite which is available now. If you’re the more cautious type then get excited because Fortnite will be a free to play title upon official release in 2018.
Note: This review was completed on PC and PS4 with a code provided by Epic Games.