Early Access Review: Fortnite

Before beginning my impressions, I’d like to speak about one thing that as of this writing is unresolved, which has dampened my experience. When getting this game up and running, it was recommended to me that it’s best I link my PSN account with my Epic account for the best experience. No problem, I went about doing this, except I hit a snag and at some point, already linked my account. I requested a new password, which never arrived in my mailbox, so I contacted the Epic Games help desk, for assistance to unlink and relink my current account. Nearly two weeks later and I’ve yet to hear back from them, leaving me highly disappointed that they have yet to reach out and get me set up.

Did you know that Fortnite was revealed to the public roughly seven years ago during the Spike Video Game Awards in 2011? At the time, I wasn’t sure what to think about Fortnite, up until that point, Epic Games was a consistent and solid developer who created quality games for Microsoft. Since then, Fortnite has gone through changes and tweaks, here we are sometime later and I’m playing a free-to-play that’s fun.

Fortnite went into early access last week, and as the shift from physical release moves to digital, it’s inevitable we’re going to see more of this. Steam has had its early access section for some time now, even crazier is just how popular buying into a game is before it’s even finished.

If you’re interested in playing Fortnite, right now, the only way to gain access is by purchasing the Founder’s Pack, which costs around $50 CAD right now. The game won’t release until some point next year, which then it will be a free-to-play title, with options for micro transactions.

I’ve spent a week playing Fortnite, my first impression is how familiar everything is. The basics behind Fortnite is fort-building against zombies who are out to get you, during this, you must gather resources and upgrade your building while defending it from the hordes that are coming your way. You can craft new weapons, traps, forts and more to better line your defenses.

For better or worse, Fortnite banks on the player learning to gather, build and fight. The opening missions teach you the fundamentals of fort-building, defense, and attacking zombie hordes. Soon after, you’re free to tackle enemies with friends and strangers alike to take on the undead hordes.

The shooting mechanics are solid and satisfying when you’re mowing down hordes zombies, building traps that impale, blast or dice is easily the second most satisfying part of the game. The elaborate traps that become available allow for fun combinations. Guns and sword and easily my favorite weapons to upgrade and build upon, in a game where the shooting mechanics are highly-tuned, it’s easy to get lost in creating the best weapons to defend yourself and your base.

An important part that I quickly learned to rely on, is the reliance on working with your team of up to four players to ensure survival. While zombies can be managed, for the most part, the best way to ward of the hordes is by communicating and coordinating plans and syncing your attacks together. A perfect example is having one person arming traps while another player fortifies defenses, while the other two gather items to upgrade your base.

While Fortnite is light on story, it’s the world is full of color, and beautifully animated, each character model has that Epic polish to them, creating a satisfying environment that Epic Games is known for. The coolest thing about the world the developer has built is how almost everything serves a purpose, each item you come across in the world can be broken down and used to craft items. Starting the game, I would run around with my pickaxe striking at everything to see what I could mine for my resources, ultimately enjoying my findings.

For an early access game, Fortnite is surprisingly polished, I haven’t encountered any major issues so far, which has made the idea of early access easier to swallow, however, after spending some time with Fortnite, I’m not sure this game is truly free-to-play. A lot of the mechanics require time, a lot of research requires energy which limits progression. The solid shooting mechanics, with fun crafting abilities, allow for hours of fun, however, I’m curious to see how Epic will develop the game going forward towards a final retail release.