I’m going to say this right out of the gate: I think I’m going to spend too much time playing Fortnite.
I bought the beta becuase the game looked super fun, and I’ve put in about 8 hours over the past four days– which is a lot of time for me. I haven’t played quite as much as some people; I can see folks running around at much higher levels. But I’ve got to say, I’m really enjoying this game so far.
The art style is one I’m really a fan of, it’s a slightly more cartoony Borderlands 2 (which itself was already pretty cartoony). There is some weirdness with the UI, but I’m hoping that’s just the “let’s get this out in there so we can launch the beta” stuff.
The in-mission game mechanics are solid. Shooting feels good, and all the weapons feel just right. When you’re running around gathering resources, it’s not a sudden stop; pulling out your pickaxe to chop down a tree or bash down a wall is quick. Once you get the hang of the “weak points” that show up, destroying even tougher things like cars & busses becomes a breeze.
When it comes to building the forts, Epic Games put a lot of work into ensuring that it’s a quick, intuitive system. This is great for a couple of reasons. The first is that you get the hang of it pretty quickly. There are even “blueprint” buildings you can find in missions, that teach you how to create things like archways, stairs that double back, and so on. Secondly, it’s a very responsive system. As soon as you lay down a wall, floor, or stairs, it’s part of the game world. No waiting for a floor to finish before building the next piece – when you’re building a bridge between rooftops this speed is essential. I can’t imagine having to wait for a piece to fully finish before I could step on it.
The variety of characters, weapons, and traps is pretty great too. I need to do a bit of research/testing of my own, because I think I could find a better class or subclass to play as; I’m a big fan of building sniper towers to pick off the annoying enemies from a distance.
It’s not all roses, though. There are some rough patches that I hope are just bits of unfinished beta showing through, and not indicitive of what the final game will look like.
One of the things that currently bugs me is just how much stuff there is in this game. Because it’s eventually going to be a free-to-play game, there are lots of different things to do. There’s a skill tree, you can send rescued survivors on resource-gathering trips, there’s research points that you wait to fill up so you can spend them on research, and all kinds of leveling up you can do ( heroes, survivors, weapons, and traps can all be leveled up ). You can slot collected schematics and survivors into a “collection book”, which removes the slotted thing from your armory/survivor list, but gets you some XP for your book – and levelling up the book gets you some nice rewards.
Because there’s so much stuff, the tutorial is loooong. There’s stuff I still haven’t unlocked after putting in over 8 hours. I can see why they do this, they don’t want to scare new players off, especially because the game is free-to-play. However, I worry that the gated nature of so many of the systems will frustrate players instead.
There is a loot-box (sorry, llama-pinata) reward system, where you get random loot that can vary in rarity. I’m on the fence with loot boxes, but I do wish that there were alternate ways to aquire things like heroes or schematics. I don’t want to end up paying to get a bunch of loot boxes because I’m looking for a specific hero, weapon, or trap – then spend all day opening boxes and not getting the thing I’m looking for. It’s happened to me in Overwatch, and it’s not a fun feeling.
The pathing of the enemies could use a little work too. I get the feeling this game is supposed to play a bit like tower defense games, where you’re able to steer the enemies by creating lanes. I’ve tried creating winding paths filled with traps, only for the husks to go straight to the nearest wall and start pounding on it. Maybe there’s a trick I’m missing, or maybe I missunderstood, but it’d be nice if I could steer the husks through a trap-filled maze to try and kill as many as possible before they start beating down walls.
One last minor irritation: the game really needs emotes or something like that. The quick emote system in Overwatch is a godsend when you’re in the middle of a match and need to ask for healing or rally your teammates. In Fortnite, there’s only a chat system, which is not the quickest way to communicate with your teammates. When the husks have started attacking, taking the time to write out a message asking for help defending a weak spot feels like ages. I’m still pretty low level, too – when I get to the higher level areas I’m sure this problem will just become worse.
Overall, I’m loving this game. I’m probably going to be playing it a few times a week for the forseable future. When I am, I’ll be streaming on Twitch and the videos will wind up on YouTube eventually. However, unless you feel a burning need to get in on the action, just wait for the game to get officially released.