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Fortnite Closed Beta Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 31 - 2017

There’s a storm coming!

 
Epic Games’ Fortnite is an action, building, tower defense loot-a-thon that is set to launch in 2018 as a free-to-play game across PC and consoles. However, it is currently in closed beta and anyone can join the game at this early stage by purchasing one of the variously priced founders packs. Considering the game will not be launching for months, it is already very compelling to play. But it is early days, so surely things can only get better?

 
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A typical match in Fortnite will begin with the player taking their chosen hero, generally along with three other players, into a huge, fully destructible environment, at which point players will generally go off and do their own thing. Explore, scavenge, break things apart for their crafting materials. This will take up the majority of the time in a match.

 
Aside from the time limited survivor missions, in which the team has a set amount of time to find a given number of survivors within a level and save them from the Husks (that’s what we call Zombies in Fortnite), missions follow a similar pattern – Find the target, build a fort around the target, activate the target and defend the target from waves of Husks. There are a few different flavours to these missions that may involve finding Bluglo or whatever, but at this early point in development, that is how things are.

 
But, as I already said, upon starting a mission, players will generally go off and do their own thing for a while. This is where the players can explore the incredible levels and find all of the secrets. Housekeeping is a big deal in Fortnite, as the player will be responsible for crafting all their own ammunition, or at least finding it in the levels. So to begin with, players will run around breaking everything down to its component parts to gather the materials for crafting ammunition, weapons or traps. And almost everything is destructible. Want to get into a house, but can’t be bothered to walk around to the door? Smash the wall down. Is there a basement beneath you with a treasure chest in? Smash the floor. Need to make some ammo? Smash some trees and cars. So much to smash. There are other diversions to find in the levels as well, such as crashed drones, survivors, Bluglo trolls and mission-specific goals for the individual player.

 
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Eventually, one member of your party will come across the target area, and then it is time to build. Using the three core building materials, players can build massive forts to protect the target area. The building controls are easy to understand and quite enjoyable to use, although things can get a little tense if two different players have different ideas of what to build. Still, get the walls and floors done and it is time to place some traps. The traps come in a huge variety of different types, from healing pads to pads that simply spring husks into the air, and make a big difference in the defense of your target.

 
Then, usually before you have finished your scavenging or building, someone activates the targets and the Husks start coming. Different Husks are slowly introduced as the player progresses through the game, keeping things interesting. But essentially we are talking about wholesale Husk slaughter here, with hundreds of the beasts rushing at the fort, often from different directions. It is all quite tense as the players defend the target, through repairing damage done to traps or walls, or shooting or meleeing Husks for a given amount of time.

 
Then the match wraps up and the player is rewarded with experience points and a chest filled with goodies depending on how well the team did. Then it is back to homebase, otherwise known as a menu packed with stuff to do and look at.

 
There is so much going on in the homebase, it is difficult to know where to start. Llama Pinata’s are the lucky dip rewards that players can gain, or buy with cold hard cash. Smash them open and get showered with sweeties, along with a selection of cards representing survivors, defenders, weapon schematics, trap schematics, new heroes or even some more in-game cash. Knowing what to do with all of these items can be a little confusing.

 
Heroes are self explanatory – they are the different characters that you can take into a match. There are four different classes, and a large variety of different types within those classes, and like all cards, they come in varying rarity, which changes their starting levels. Survivors are placed into squads to provide buffs for whichever hero the player happens to be using, and matching jobs or personalities will raise or lower the buff. Defenders can be taken into matches, or used to defend the players base, which come into play in certain types of mission. The various schematics allow the player to build these items within a match, providing they have enough resources.

 
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Experience is a tricky thing to get your head around. Players level up themselves through playing matches and will receive skill points to spend on a quite extensive skill tree. They will also get cards awarding them hero xp, survivor xp and schematic xp. The hero xp allows them to level up their favorite hero cards, unlocking new skills and even evolving them once they match the other requirements. Similarly, survivors are leveled up using survivor xp to improve the buffs that they give to the hero. Finally, schematic xp allows the improvement and evolving of weapon and trap schematics, making them more effective but also increasing the cost of crafting them.

 
So, you have the matches themselves, which contain loads of different aspects. Then you have the management side of leveling heroes, survivors and the like. Then there is your permanent base, the storm shield, which can be visited and built up whenever the player wants, but will require defending every now and again as the player progresses through the missions. And you have such a wide array of missions, from the core quests through challenges, hero missions, daily missions and tutorial missions. All in all, I am only about 25 hours in and still have so much to do, and there is no sign of the game getting old yet.

 
But there is still a lot of work for the developers to do, before the game fully launches next year. There still needs to be more for the players to do in the matches. It is really great fun so far, but it needs more variety as I can see the constant grind, build, defend cycle getting old quite quickly for some players. The stability needs to be worked on, as getting kicked out of a game 45 seconds before the end and then trying to get back in, only to find the game had finished is controller-throwingly frustrating. There also needs to be more explanation of the various different mechanics in the back end of the game. At the moment there is so much going on, and a lot of what I needed to know I found out through searching the Internet.

 
Then there is the whole “pay-to-win” situation. Fortnite is set to be a free-to-play title, and as such has in-game purchases. It has been suggested that players will need to spend money on coins to buy Llamas to get the high end heroes and weapon schematics in order to actually compete in the later game, thus walling off the end game to those who spend money or spend hours and hours grinding. But it is early days yet and as more of the early adopters reach the later game, I am sure that the developers will tweak the gameplay to keep it fair. And a little bit of grinding is not too bad when it is this much fun.

 
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Fortnite may only be in closed beta, but it is already a huge amount of fun. If you don’t mind paying for the early access to a free-to-play game, and enjoy crafting, building, scavenging, collecting and fighting, it really is worth taking a punt on. I am going to keep playing, and really am looking forward to seeing where this game goes.

 
Find out more about Fortnite and get in on the action at www.epicgames.com/fortnite

 

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