Game Reviews

‘Fortnite’ is exactly what you need after a toxic video game session

Build 'em up, break 'em down

fortnite reviewepic games

Log into any popular First Person Shooter and you can will most likely play until the players, or the game, makes you angry enough to quit. The toxicity level in modern team-based shooters has reached a boiling point over the last few years, and if you’re anything like me, you might be looking for a way to detox. This weekend I took a break from the “CS: GO,” “Overwatch,” and “PUBG” crowd and started hanging out with the building crew over on Fortnite’s single-player campaign. I have to say it’s a welcomed change, and I was surprised at how well polished the game was, considering that it is still in Early Access. During testing, I played with a i7-4770K and a Gigabyte G1 1080, and found no trouble getting 60FPS in 4K with Epic settings.

This was a big week for the title, which was developed by Epic Games, as Fortnite just released a new Free-To-Play 100 player mode. While the 100 player mode is fun and exciting, it’s still against everyone else, and not really the break I was looking for this month. Instead, I spent the last week engrossed in the single-player campaign, where you and a small team of three other online-players (or friends) take on missions and build some pretty amazing bases. You also get to kill an endless supply of zombies, and have a ball doing it.

While you can play the game solo (by setting your desired preference to PRIVATE) I wouldn’t suggest it. This is actually a great game to play with strangers, and the community has been very welcoming and engaging. Throughout the game you will build a home base, one that you will have to defend from time to time as the story progresses, but most of your gameplay will consist of choosing different missions and hoping for terrific loot drops and rare finds.

The missions are all objective based, and almost all of them involve building a base to protect an item from an onslaught of zombies. While the maps, missions, and zombies do change to a small degree, the only real hangup about the game, at this point, is the repetitive nature of the ‘hoard mode’ style of gaming. Things can start feeling repetitive about 40 hours in, but it’s nothing that a short break into the PvP mode can’t fix. The overall story of Fortnite qill have you smashing the open-world map for crafting gear, exploring the map for sub-quests and loot, then protecting location “X” from a Zombie attack. It’s as simple as sounds, but only on the outside.

The game’s interior is complex, and could rival an RPG. There are Hero cards of different levels and ability, and you can level your Hero and expands their skill-set. The game also boasts several gigantic skill-trees that you can unlock, and there’s also weapon leveling, trap crafting, weapon crafting, and more.

The game does its best to walk you through the endless upgrades, team building devices, and strategies that you can deploy to make yourself stronger, but the only real way to succeed is just to play and learn as you go. Just when I thought I had everything down, I realized that I could level up each of the characters I had collected, morph them together into super squads, and create dyno teams. Then I learned that I could add extra cards to my “Collection”, and just when I thought I was done, I got better cards and had to rethink the whole set. It’s really massive, and fun to explore all the options between missions as you get new stuff. Even when you don’t have a firm grasp on what’s going on, opening Loot Llamas and being showered in new unlocks and abilities is always fun. Luckily, space isn’t too limited, so you can just ‘hang on’ to everything and everyone that you collected until you see how the pieces start fitting together.

While Fortnite is colorful and cartoonish, it can (and does) get very difficult. Depending on the situation, like being low on resources to craft ammo, or if you are just under-powered for the mission, it’s pretty manageable. These problems are easily fixed with resource gathering and a few lucky swings at the Llama Pinnate (which drops random loot) but the game also gets difficult for advanced players. If you need to see the game in action, you can check out the launch trailer that the studio released.

With four major classes to pick from, you should know from the start that you aren’t tied down to your first character. Later on you will either pick-up/win, Hero Cards that will let you play as another Hero. This lets you play a different version of the class that you chose, or even as another class all together. No matter what your weapon of choice is, Fortnite has you covered in that category as well. There are small firearms, rifles, sniper rifles, and even melee weapons like swords and spears. Each character has special attacks and buffs to help your team clear all of the zombies and build amazing forts, and some Heroes are better at things like resource gathering and crowd-control. You can experiment with all of them as you progress, so don’t feel tied down if you end up not liking your first pick. As for items to fight with, you can either find one-off items to use until they break, or find/win the schematic to build your own whenever you need them. The schematics are the real loot, since you can upgrade them and they produce endless weapons if you have the crafting items required. Even if you get a terrific weapon, odds are there is an even better schematic out there, and you can almost always level it up for more DPS and special attacks.

While combat is a treat, building is also a major component to the game. You can build elaborate castles, huts, traps, death pits, and more. The main ingredients for building anything fort-related are wood, metal, and stone, and you get those by simply tearing apart the world around you, or finding them in boxes or drawers throughout the map.

That’s all just the setup, the real joy was being able to jump into a team-based game where we were all working together. There aren’t any ‘meta rules’ that you have to deal with, and there’s no hatred towards a particular character choice or play style. (I still feel bad for the Hanzo and Widowmaker mains out there). You pretty much just enter into a map zone with three others, and you just have fun and do your thing until the mission starts and then you band together to fight the oncoming hoard. You are matched in a skill-zone of your choosing, based on power level and mission type. You have Quests, and can load up an auto-join game that will complete that quest from the quest page. This means that the people you are joined with on each map/mission chose to be there, so everyone has a task or two they may be doing on the side, and everyone’s glad that they are there.

There’s no voice-chat in the game, which I actually prefer at this point, and so far no one has had a terrible thing to say in over 40 hours. Players have offered me their extra guns, they have helped me build amazing bases, and most are just silent helpers that could easily be considered wonderful NPCs.

Single-player games are great for getting away from the toxic multiplayer world out there, but online games are usually a better bang for your buck. They can also be a blast, and the PvE in Fortnite is some of the best out there. There are a ton of co-op games sure, but if you’re looking for a game that you can easily jump into and shoot around, Fortnite is a terrific option that you should put on your list. It’s exactly the detox that I’ve been looking for, and if you have been bogged down by online play over the last few months, I would prescribe a few hours of Fortnite as the cure.