Fortnite review for PC, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PC
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, Mac
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes

When I first read about Fortnite, I was pretty excited. Cooperative shooter with base building, heroes, and zombies? Count me in. What I expected was, as Epic Games’ founder Tim Sweeney described it, Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead. What I got was a complex shooter with crafting elements that can almost double as an RPG.

Fortnite has a lot of moving parts. There are the main missions, side missions to gather resources, crafting gear and opening loot boxes, and leveling up your Heroes. The main missions focus on you playing as one of the many Heroes and expanding the “Storm Shield” around your base, which protects you from the zombies. These missions are tower defense in nature, requiring you to set up traps and defend against waves of enemies until a timer runs out. The side missions take place on randomly-generated maps and involve saving survivors, collecting crafting materials, and usually protecting an important point or objective. When paired with other players, missions can go well. However, when forced to solo a mission meant for 2-4 players, it can be borderline unwinnable.

Items are obtained during and after each mission and comes in the form of crafting materials, weapons, schematics, Heroes, Defenders, Survivors, EXP to use across your characters, and Llamas. Heroes come in four major flavors: Soldiers, Builders, Outlanders, and Assassins, with some differences in abilities between them. Llamas are basically loot boxes that can contain any of the items listed above, but usually in greater quantities. Llamas can also be purchased for V-bucks, which can be obtained in-game by completing Quests, mini objectives completed during missions, or with real world money. After saving up enough V-bucks and seeing the contents of the “paid” Llamas, I feel the game could be very pay-to-win. Shell out enough cash and you’ll have Legendary rank Heroes and all the best schematics, which can put a big gap between players.

When it came time to level up my Heroes, I ran into my first issue; Fortnite explains close to nothing when it comes to progression. On the character screen, I saw that I had Heroes, Survivor Squads, and Defender Squads. The game had prompted me to add a Defender to one of my squads, but didn’t explain how it was beneficial or why my choice in Defender mattered. It then threw a bunch of information at me all at once, telling me to match Survivor personalities, collect resource points for skills, and use skill points on other skills. After about a half hour of reading and rereading each menu option and skill page, I got a grasp on the system that Fortnite uses, but it may be daunting to first time players. T

here are different EXP pools for Heroes, Survivors, and Defenders, multiple skill trees for your heroes which both obtain points in different ways, and EXP for leveling up your schematics to craft better gear. It was all very clustered, and I can see the learning curve for knowing which survivors are best with which heroes, which skills to obtain, and which defenders to use to be high.

Fortnite was also my first real experience with a mouse and keyboard shooter. After some practice, I found the shooting aspect of the gameplay responsive and fluid. When I had to start crafting however, I ran into my second issue, keybindings. There are SO MANY KEYS that Fortnite expects you to become acquainted with.. Between crafting and repairing structures, managing weapons, abilities, gadgets, and traps, and killing enemies, I found myself overwhelmed. I used my gamepad and still didn’t have enough keys to map all of the controls. After plugging in my PS4 controller and testing those controls, I played the rest of my time with the controller. While the aiming isn’t as smooth (such is the nature of controller vs mouse and keyboard) I found every other action much more manageable. Again, the learning curve is astronomical, especially if it’s a player’s first PC game.

Surprisingly though, after I situated myself in the controls, leveling and managing my squads, and making my way through some missions, Fortnite works. Missions are fun and engaging, rewards are plentiful, and it feels good to shoot things. Replayability is there too, as the enemies and resources are randomly placed when you load a mission. Forntnite may be slightly repetitive at times, but is overall an enjoyable experience.

Grade: B