There’s a lot to like here.
Fortnite is a mixture of third-person FPS and tower defense by Epic Games. It’s DRM free, meaning that you download the launcher directly from the Fortnite website. Those who play the developer’s other games will be one step ahead. Your purchase nets you the game on both consoles as well as PC since you simply need to link your Epic account then download the game from the respective game store.
Your task on each map is to defend an objective–either with or without other players–by creating a protective structure and placing traps to thwart waves of enemies called husks. These husks are brought on my storms and are glorified zombies that wear the flesh of fallen humans like hoodies. Good stuff. Because it’s presented in a vibrant, cartoony style, it’s a little difficult to take the dangerous situation (you know, the whole end kg the world thing?) seriously–a task made doubly difficult by the writing, which uses the same type of humour that games like Borderlands does.
Your main hub allows you to take on missions, visit your home base, view and upgrade your heroes, survivor, and building/crafting schematics, open up llamas, the game’s version of a loot crate, and of course, purchase premium currency.
Matches consist of the following sequence of phases:
Gather materials–>locate your objective and interact with it–>build your defenses and prepare yourself for battle–>load BluGlow into the objective to bring in the storms–>protect your objective.
Your team versus the horde.
When you start a mission, you can recruit friends or randoms to make a team of four heroes. There’s a starting lull during which you can gather building materials and everything is breakable. Your building materials carry over between matches, so it’s in your best interest to stock up. The game will only progress if you interact with objectives like going to a meeting point or creating a shelter and activating a switch, so feel free to explore at will. Once things get started, your task is to fend off husks with your teammates.
The game’s building mode allows you to construct floors, walls, and ramps on the go as well as place traps on floors, ceilings, and walls. It’s very intuitive and easy to use: simply select the building element you want and pop it down. Want to make a door or a window? Enter the editor and create a gap. Want to make a short wall to prevent the enemy from reaching you, but also allows you to shoot over it? Remove the upper half of the wall. This level of customization let’s you build some seriously cool fortress structures–particularly when it comes to your home base.
Your home base is the one structure that will remain standing across maps. You can return to it at any time via the mission map and edit it at will, making the necessary improvements to protect yourself during higher level missions. Periodically, you get missions that allow you to increase your storm shield level–a task that must be done solo. This in turn makes your hero stronger during missions you play with others.
You can craft everything you have the schematic and materials for during missions. You can also repair damaged structures as long as you have the necessary materials.
Your heroes can have three weapons equipped at a time for easy access, though you can switch weapons from your backpack to your hotbar whenever you see fit. They also have their own skills, both passive and active, that can be unlocked by leveling up.
“Free 2 Play”?
Right. So, while that’s all very fine and good, but the game has–even in its current state where you have to pay to play–pay walls that will make progression an absolute grind fest. In fact, recent updates not only rendered cross-play unavailable, but also made it so that a higher level player beating a lower level mission would get nothing for his (or her) troubles. The difficulty ramps up fairly quickly, meaning you’ll need to start grinding in order to keep up. Or, you know, spend money.
The founder’s packs themselves range from the basic version’s $39.99 to the deluxe version, which costs a whopping $109 and include a slew of llamas for daily log in. Players should know, however, that missing a day will result in permanently missed rewards and that purchasing an additional upgrade, which will grant you more goodies and is offered at a generous 19.99, will not be available to you unless you’re a founder.
Official “founders” are those who purchase at the highest tier possible, which means that even those who are buying into early access are behind unless they break the bank. From a buyer’s perspective, I’d feel gipped–especially since this isn’t explicitly stated anywhere.
There’s a distinct advantage to those who spend money on the game versus those who do not. Worthwhile loot drops after a mission are far and few in between and most of what you get, RNG willing, is experience for your survivors and heroes. You can potentially get loot llamas simply by completing story missions, but these “mini llamas” won’t exactly thrill you with their contents. The lowest tier llama costs 100 V-bucks–the game’s premium currency–which is rarely attained from main story missions or can be bought at 1000 V-bucks for $10. While this isn’t a huge amount, neither are the amount of powerful weapons you’ll get from those low tier llamas–unless you’re lucky. In short, the business model is less than stellar.
Do I recommend Fortnite? As a game, yes. It’s fun and the variety of traps, weapon types, and skill points to research will keep you engaged for a good while. It looks good, it plays great, and I really like having different characters with different kits to try out. As a F2P experience, however, the current setup is less than nominal for those who truly wish to play for free.
Should Epic Games fix their business model, I could easily give this an 8. As it is, it’s lukewarm attempt at levelling the playing field gets it a 5.
You can check out my first impressions of the gameplay here:
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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