Fortnite has been a long time coming. Announced by Epic Games all the way back during the 2011 VGA Awards, the game has gone thorough long periods without much information. Finally earlier this month, the game’s developers confirmed that the game would be entering a paid Early Access period on PC, PS4, and Xbox One this July before releasing as a free-to-play game next year.
This year at E3, I got the chance to go hands-on with Fortnite and learn the ins and outs of its survival, building, and shooting mechanics. Fortnite has an insanely addicting gameplay loop that I am sure fans of loot-heavy and survival-style games will fall in love with, and it definitely is a title I want to go hands-on with again when it enters Early Access on PC and consoles next month.
I first jumped into the tutorial, which did a good job of setting up the premise and introducing me to the mechanics of the game. A giant storm is bringing on a zombie apocalypse and destroying the world, and the player, as a newly appointed “Commander,” must take control of certain characters in order to gather materials to build large defenses before the impending attack of the zombies.
Characters are split into four different classes: Constructors, who are the best at building things and can deal with large groups of enemies; Soldiers are the best at combat, and have access to the best guns; Outlanders have the best luck at finding loot; and Ninjas, who are the best at melee and quickly getting into and out of combat. Each hero has individual advantages, so characters within the same class don’t always play the same: I played as a Soldier during the tutorial, but was soon able to jump into a full match of Fortnite.
Here I had to ability to choose between a wide variety of heroes, who all had Hero Cards showing me the ins and outs of their character. I ended up going with a Constructor, who was a lumberjack-looking fellow with a large red beard wearing flannel. We started out by going around our level and gathering resources: these resources are used to build your base, and are acquired by destroying almost any object found in Fortnite‘s world. It was relaxing – but fun – to scavenge for building materials and destroying everything in my path with my mighty pickax.
Afterwards, it was time to build our fort. It was nothing spectacular – just some wood and steel hobbled together in the vague shape of a building – but it was still decently-designed, as we built it so zombies would funnel into either our gunfire or traps. Then the storm came, bringing a horde of zombies with it…
They started out pretty weak, and my Constructor did a fine job mowing them down. To try and stop the problem at its core, I rushed near where the zombies were spawning. In order to funnel them all into a choke point, I built some walls at the top of ramps so they stayed contained within a certain area beneath me. When enough of them accrued there, I opened fire. Some zombies did get smarter and started to find ways to get around and destroy my makeshift barriers, leading to even more on-the fly thinking and building.
It was neat that the building mechanics still have a major purpose in the battle phase, even though the focus isn’t on it then. This mayhem continued for quite a while, but finally the storm passed and the match ended. It wasn’t overwhelmingly difficult, but I still was on the edge of my seat making sure zombies didn’t destroy my base. Afterwards, I was brought to a menu where I could level up my hero, open loot chests, apply points to skill trees, and craft new weapons. I didn’t have enough time to explore all of these different mechanics, but I could tell this is a lot there for players to return to once the game launches.
I enjoyed what I played of Fortnite at E3, so I am optimistic about the game’s Early Access launch this July. The gameplay loop looks to be insanely addicting, and I could see both fans of survival/building games like Minecraft and third-person shooter fans spending tons of time on this game.
The building mechanics were well-spliced into the other facets of gameplay, and the different character classes will allow players to focus on whichever part of the game they like the most. Despite having been in development for so long, which can be a bad sign, Fortnite is setting itself up to be a very fun and addicting experience for all players.
If you want to get your hands on Fortnite soon, you can purchase a Founder’s Pack to gain access to game when it enters Early Access on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on July 25, or wait until Fortnite launches as a free-to-play game sometime next year on those same platforms.