Zombies and survival have not changed that much considering the concept of an apocalypse leaves the opportunity to get really creative with the idea, but most people just focus on the fact that zombies are a thing and go from there. The apocalypse doesn’t really need to be a dark or drab experience and it looks like Fortnite is trying to uplift the apocalypse but does it do it well?
The survival fort building game being released from Epic Games is trying to make the apocalypse more fun by allowing the players to create forts at Minecraft levels of creativity with friends. You’ll group up with people and defend some sort of objective by building a fort around said objective using materials from nearly everything around you and then the game will get eventually harder the further down the mission list you are and the further down the research tree. That’s pretty much it. The fort building aspect of the game is fantastic. Mechanically speaking you’re able to create some excellent designs for forts thanks to the tools they give you, you’ve got individual pieces which you use like walls, corners, stairs and so on which is standard for a building system that snaps together but the innovation comes into editing those individual pieces to then have things like low boundary walls, doorways and curved turret tops. This palette of available buildings sections allows for players to really let their creativity flow to a near Minecraft degree and that I can happily praise with Fortnite, it’s nice to know after it being in development for several years that there is some innovation. The art style as well plays highly to its benefit as it gives a bright and stylised look to an otherwise drab concept with an apocalypse however this is where I have to stop commending it and express my lack of enthusiasm for this game.
Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. The connections between the systems and the game’s design is the main thing that I feel brings the game down from its own merit. Yes, you have a really in-depth building system in which players can design these crazy forts. Problem is that the game is based around running missions to progress and level up to get loot boxes which give you more things to make more forts. You’ve got one persistent fort which you go to every so often, defend it then go back to the missions. This mission based progression converts the game from a creative process in which you find cool ways to defend with traps and fun design to a game about completing the mission efficiently with just some walls and minimal time put in to it to clear the mission and move on. You can’t really get attached to anything you do in Fortnite because it’s over before you can invest in what you are doing.
The story which is pretty thin tries to loosely keep you coasting between missions and yes, things may get harder as you go but the best method isn’t usually the fun one. Most of the time players just create the most efficient fort but in all honesty, that takes you right out of the game and just makes it boring. One example that I had was defending an objective with a random group during a matchmaking session. They put up the four walls to contain the objective and then ran off to the area that the enemies were spawning in and just held all the action there with minimal consequence. I wanted to actually make a fort that towers and cool traps but the social aspect of this game which is the preferred playstyle took that away and when you’re playing solo you have to have a efficient fort with loads of traps because it’s difficult to cover everything by yourself so you can’t get truly invested in what the game has to offer you. If you had 3 friends and planned everything out then you’ll have a much better time with the game but that is hard to come by considering the current price of the game in its “early access” period. Things may change but the core design aspects don’t really give it a good chance in the long run.
The thing is, the game is marketed in an early access style period which has the public buying into the game in order to help development and things are subject to change which as a development model isn’t a bad one. But with that is a precedent that the game is an early state, the problem with Fortnite however is that it treats itself more like a mobile game with micro-transactions and timers on things that only exist in a menu which I wouldn’t mind as much if there was more I could be doing in game like Assassin’s Creed 4 which allowed me to mess around in an open world and time flew by. Here the game doesn’t hold my attention long enough to do that and just becomes a relatively boring experience. The building and the art style play to this game’s strengths but the overall progression design, gun play and its price really drag the game down to a point where it would be very difficult to recommend it unless you and 3 of your friends can all pay the £35 for the lowest tier of early access and can go in to mess around. If that isn’t an option for you then I would leave it until it goes free to play next year and then hope that the time matures the game into a more enjoyable experience
All Content in early access subject to change