Kurt
Aug 07, 2017
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: Epic Games, People Can Fly
Review platform: This game was reviewed on Xbox One with a review code provided by the publisher.
Release date: Jul 25, 2017
I fondly remember Gears of War 2 as having the single best horde mode in a game to date. I could never quite buy into Call of Duty’s Zombies or Halo’s Firefight, but Horde was an instant joy from the moment I started playing it. It took the best parts of third-person shooters, tower defence and strategy games, brilliantly blending together challenge and fun alike. Epic Games are back at it again with Fortnite, which is effectively Gears of War’s Horde expanded into a full-scale game.

The core mechanics of Fortnite involve searching landscapes, harvesting resources and defending objectives. There are many open world environments with dedicated missions for each and tons of hidden loot to find. Collected resources can be used to make weapons, traps and much more. You use the crafted goods to defend the land and to fight off an army of zombies, referred to as husks. At first I was a little disappointed to see that Fortnite took place on several smaller maps rather than one big one, but this ends up working in the game’s favour. It allows environments to feel deliberate and purposeful rather than generic or lifeless; it’s nice to see a cave and know that there’s going to be something of interest inside, as opposed to the Elder Scrolls syndrome where similar locations often lead to a whole lot of nothing. Huge open worlds are great when appropriate, but Epic got it right going down a different path in Fortnite.



It should come as no surprise from the developers of Gears of War but, as a third-person shooter, the gunplay in Fortnite is second to none. There’s a mega-satisfying balance between accurate shooting and gameplay that’s easy to jump in and enjoy. Personally, however, I do have one major complaint. The first-person perspective sucks at the time of writing and that’s the viewpoint I much prefer in my shooters. The problem is that weapon models are nonexistent in first-person, so the screen effectively becomes a semi-empty HUD. I suppose it’s the kind of thing you’d see with classic Halo montages where they did the classic gun trick to lower their weapons out of frame. Good for machinima, bad for immersion. Due to this issue I’d recommend playing in third-person, but be sure to give both points of view a try first.

With the happy-go-lucky, kid-friendly tone of Fortnite, I hadn’t expected any sort of real challenge. Early missions confirmed my bias, being nearly impossible to fail as long as you remember to use the organ in your head. However, my opinion was booted right up the arse when my experience switched from a walk in the park to a hike up Mount Everest real quick. Fortnite gets seriously difficult in the later stages, requiring in-depth knowledge of the mechanics as well as high tier equipment. This gives resource farming a defined purpose as opposed to just wanting the flashiest gun possible for rarity’s sake.



Durability systems are a poor idea. I cannot emphasize this enough. I find them ridiculous. Imagine in a racing game you spend fifteen hours grinding for credits to purchase a new car. You use said car for fifty races and then, *poof*, it’s gone forever. Having guns, traps, swords, and so on do the same thing in Fortnite is just as ridiculous. You have to be lucky enough to get them in a loot crate, then spend hours gathering resources to build them, and all for what? They dematerialise before your very eyes after not all that much use. It’s a poor way to create artificial and tedious challenge. I would much rather have it take longer to get high-tier stuff but then be able to keep it forever. At least that way I feel like I’m working toward a final goal rather than a goal that will disappear on me after I achieve it.

This is less of a criticism and more of a warning, but I’m convinced that Fortnite should only be played in co-op. That’s not to say it isn’t fun to play without partying up with friends, but rather it’s a hundred times more enjoyable that way. I found it very hard to play in long sits on my own due to the game’s repetitive nature. Let’s be clear though: when I say repetitive, I don’t mean bad. Sports games are repetitive. Racing games are repetitive. MMOs are repetitive. What I mean is that the simplicity of the gameplay results in you following the same format over and over again on every map. But some of the best fundamental aspects of racing games, sports games and MMOs are their online modes. Fortnite is the same. I’d go so far as to say that there’s little to no value in picking this game up unless you know you have at least one or two mates who will play it with you.



Summary

Regardless of its flaws, Fortnite is a seriously fun co-op experience that most will want to spend hours playing. There’s plenty of content, the gunplay is satisfying, and it runs well on the hardware as long as you’re comfortable playing at 30 FPS. I would love to see models added to the first-person viewpoint in the future, but even without that you’re still left with an impressive and expansive game comparable to the Horde mode from Gears of War that I’ve always loved. Based on this alone, I’d say Fortnite is well worth your time.
Our score: 8/10

Great - A solid game that may have minor flaws, but strongly complements its genre.
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