Fortnite Preview - Forage, Build, Defend, Repeat

Joshua Vanderwall | 8 Jul 2014 10:00
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In addition to the action aspects of the game, there's a base building meta game to play around with, too. You'll get to construct and staff buildings in your Home Base, which will provide bonuses to your group during the campaign. You'll collect resources from completed missions, which you use to construct your buildings. You'll also rescue workers in the campaign, which you'll assign to work in your facilities, providing additional bonuses during the campaign.

As you kill Husks and gather resources and loot, you'll sometimes find weapons or schematics. Weapons are tied to your current campaign, but schematics are account-bound, so once you've got the recipe, you can create that item wherever you are. Schematics require special building materials, like Duct Tape, which you'll have to create yourself from component parts. Some of the recipes get fairly involved, so you won' t be able to simply craft an uber weapon in the first level of your next campaign and breeze through the rest. Hunting down specific resources to create your uberweapon is definitely a neat addition to the experience. Farming trees for wood and stones for rock are fine and good, but when you're trying to create five pieces of duct tape so you can assemble your new weapon, you'll need to be more particular about what you're foraging. It takes time to knock down a tree or bust up a rock, so unless your group has saint-like patience, you'll be on a clock to try to craft your favorite Husk killer.

The PVP demo was made clear to be a proof-of-concept only, so the specifics aren't particularly relevant to what the title is going to ship with. Suffice to say, tinkering around with the game's mechanics while fending off another team was a ton of fun. Building defenses around your own base while harassing your opponent's Constructor requires coordination among your team to avoid leaving yourself too vulnerable, or getting crushed by a sneaky Ninja assault. The incorporation of AI enemies adds another layer of depth to the experience, as you no longer only need to worry about keeping your opponents on their toes, but fending off the hordes of Husks as well. Sneaking into the enemy base amid a swarm of bad guys is hilarious and entertaining. The enemy of my enemy, as they say.

Being a free-to-play title, you can expect some kind of microtransactions, but Epic insists that it's looking to do this the right way; it's not a pay-to-win model. Instead, there was talk of buying packs of cards, with a random assortment of workers and schematics for you to utilize. While it is incredibly important to avoid becoming pay-to-win, the random booster model has its own flaws, like doubling up on schematics, or getting worker types that you're already full on. It remains to be seen if or how this will be addressed, but the team is aware of the potential drawbacks.

Fortnite is basically the intermingling of Left 4 Dead and an entry-level Minecraft, with a dash of Orcs Must Die! for good measure. If constructing buildings isn't your thing, you can focus your efforts on foraging and combat. If you're an expert in-game architect, the freedom allowed by the construction system will be quite the treat for you, although it is still significantly more restrictive than something like Minecraft, which doesn't force you to use pre-determined structures like walls and floors. These restrictions are probably for the best, as building block by block would make the matches and missions drag on, and this allows much more flexibility in how you use your building chops. Expeditiously constructing a staircase and skybridge to the top floor of your opponent's base defenses in PVP, then swarming the roof of the base with your whole squad offers a great sense of accomplishment, ingenuity, and teamwork.

Keep an eye on Fornite in the coming months. Whether you're a PVPer or a PVEer, a builder or a fighter, it will have something to offer you for your preferred style of play and, being free-to-play, the price is definitely right.

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