News October 16, 2017

UFG Goes Hands on With Fortnite!

Written By: Andre Thomas
Date: 10/16/2017

When you have been followed a game like Fortnite for as long as I have, you know that review time is rather tough. Well…not review time; we don’t review Early Access games due to them being “unfinished” and all. But yeah, sharing my thoughts on the game is challenging. On one hand, there is nothing easier to write about then a game that you have an affinity for. On the other, when you are supposed to be critical, it is imperative that you don’t gloss over issues just because you like a game. Basically, I enjoyed my time playing Fortnite but it isn’t all bullets and explosions!

As the story goes, an extinction level event caused most of the Earth’s population to disappeared one day. Large purple clouds span the globe and wicked storms make venturing outside a dangerous endeavor. Before long, zombie like beings called husks started descending from the clouds. Chaos and death followed. In order to fight back, the last remaining humans developed storm shields that cleared the skies, reducing the amount of husk attacks and allowing survivors to venture out to collect supplies…

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As days go by in-game, it’s your job to build forts to protect the storm shields that are linked to your home base. This is done by going into nearby towns and tearing down structures/trees/vehicles for supplies. In the midst of collecting these items, you’ll also have to perform different tasks – protecting generators, protecting an important NPC, protecting a weather ball, etc. Once you’ve found the thing you need to protect, you’ll need to build walls and set traps to keep the husks at bay. Not always an easy task given how smart some of your enemies can be; they won’t just try to take down walls but also seek out the more exposed areas in your defenses. After a few missions, you’ll be able to go back to your home base and attempt to install new storm shields in hopes of expanding the safe zone. This cycle continues as you make your way across the game’s hub world. There’s a bit more to it than just that but you get the drift.

Before the recent late September update (more on that later), Fortnite was solely based on this PvE horde set up. It was certainly entertaining early on. Crafting tons of weapons, unlocking different classes of survivor, and battling increasing numbers of husks proved to be an addictive gameplay loop. That goes double for building structures. Part of the appeal came from how fast and easy it is to erect walls and such. Switching to build mode will bring up a transparent “blueprint” of whatever you’re trying to build. A few modifications (place a window in the wall your about to create for instance) and a button press later sends materials flying into place in real time. Seconds later, my wall with is created with a window to snipe Husks from. It’s possible to make houses/mazes laden with trap to stave off the monsters seeking to destroy whatever is inside your makeshift fort.

After a while though, I started to realize that Fortnite was more concerned with burning through my resources than providing a good time. My friends and I spent hours grinding for these items so we can build some of the greatest forts we’ve ever seen. Just like when I played Citadel: Forged with Fire (another Early Access title), this was a huge seller for me. I mean really…who hasn’t wanted to create a fort, whether it be out of wood in the backyard or with pillows in your bedroom? The thing with Fortnite though, when playing with friends, the fruits of your labor aren’t shared. You see, expanding your home base requires a lot of resources and time. These special missions aren’t easy in the later levels; you’re going to need help defending multiple storm shields. Players will use their supplies sustaining walls, traps to dispatch enemies, and weapons that degrade over time – guns, swords, etc. need to be replaced via crafting. This is all well and good until your friends realize that helping you leaves them helpless.

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This is because their bases will need to go through the same expanding process. And because they used their supplies helping you out, they’ll have nothing to take home. This means another round of grinding for everyone as they gear up to expand their individual bases. The only way to cut out the time it takes gathering stuff is microtransactions. That’s right! By purchasing a Lama (loot box) it’s possible to get traps, weapons, and more without doing the extra work. Now to be fair, you will unlock survivors that’ll boost your stats and help you protect. Still, the game goes from fun easy free to a chore-like experience (mostly) without purchasing digital content.

I have to commend Epic/People Can Fly for changing the zombie horde-survival formula. Gone are the gloomy worlds and all-around seriousness we’ve grown accustomed to. Instead, we get cartoony environments with bright, colorful aesthetics and bombastic gameplay mechanics. Laborious crafting loop and limited ammo vs whacky traps and air strikes. Neither are necessarily better than the other. It’s just nice to have something different. It’s refreshing, if you will. And I’m not THAT upset about the push for microtransactions for a Free-to-Play game. The thing is though, Fortnite is currently in Early Access (it’ll go F2P sometime next year). Having to pay for the game and deal with a gameplay loop that pushes buying loot boxes doesn’t sit well with me. Though I’ve enjoying my time smacking monsters with axes made from stop signs and building forts, I’d have to recommend waiting until the game launches out of Early Access. Unless you don’t mind a crazy grind midway through/have extra cash for Lamas.

Battle Royale

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I had to separate this mode from the rest of the game because that’s what Epic has done. The fact that Fortnite Battle Royale is free, unlike the main game, makes it seem like a completely separate title. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun though!

It’s nearly impossible to not talk about how Battle Royale was heavily influenced by the popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). What makes this mode great is how much they don’t try to avoid showing their love for PUBG. I think way too many people get caught up in their emotions when they see a developer duplicate popular features from another title – similar to how PUBG has evolved elements seen in H1Z1 – but putting their own spin on it. In this case, that spin is the ability to create structures and use traps. After you and 99 other players airdrop from the party bus, you are then left to sneak around buildings to not only find weapons, but also dismantle houses for materials you can later use to craft. Being shot at by a sniper? Build a wall to allow yourself time to heal. Don’t have any long-range weapons? Build a trap, lure an opponent into it, then take their stuff.

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Because Fortnite Battle Royale is still being worked on, there’s no loot or cosmetics to earn yet. So, as of right now, it’s a purely “for fun” game mode. Which is probably being said loosely because we all know that nobody is playing this game as if it is a party game, even in squad play. The intense struggle to outlive 99 other players can be entertaining just like in PUBG, but I can see a lot of people sticking with the PvE option. Or at least they would have if it wasn’t offered for free; I assume most people wouldn’t pay for a stressful experience. With that said, I believe Fortnite Battle Royale (like the main game) can offer gamers a good time. It’s a bit rough around the edges in terms of options send in games like PUBG, but those things will be address in the coming weeks/months. If you’re looking for this type of experience but of a less serious nature, I’d give Battle Royale a shot.