E3 2017: Fortnite Will Be Worth Playing All Night

Announced back in December of 2011, there was ample reason to believe that Epic Games’ Fortnite might have been lost in the mire. The company insisted that the title was still undergoing development, of course, but the general consensus was that equated to some poor intern stuck in a corner tapping away while dodging spitballs from the rest of the development studio as they handled the “real” games. After some hands on time with the game, it’s safe to say that this theory has been put to rest. Fortnite is real and it’s cool.

The set up is simple. A storm has struck the world, unleashing a horde of monsters upon the populace. Said monsters are generally behaving like the worst people to invite to a party. As one of the few remaining heroes with the skills needed to combat the fiends, it is up to the player to locate, rescue, and protect the remaining survivors while gunning down as many ghouls as possible. Of course, the monsters have other plans and will be making this process as difficult as possible.

In practice, the game breaks down into two separate parts. First is the player’s home base. A permanent residence, the hero can go out into the world to gather resources and rescue survivors. Using the found resources, players can craft the perfect dream fort, with the folks rescued taking up residence and providing assistance. The base itself will undergo attacks from the monsters and need defending, but this is mostly the go to place to engage in creativity, and take the time to build the perfect maze of traps, roadblocks, and ramparts. Friends can also visit each other’s bases, making it a fun social hangout to build and kill.

The other part involves more discrete multiplayer matches. When compared to the home bases, these matches are intended to be shorter, providing a quick burst of action and building without the permanency. Boasting multiple game types and monsters with some smart pathfinding that will take advantage of any weakness in the defenses, there are sure to be innumerable matches played with tons of unique solutions to specific situations. As a package, it looks pretty cool.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get hands on time in a multiplayer match, but I did get to experience the tutorial, which showcase the mechanics quite well. Running through the level using a controller, crafting was a breeze. There were certain sections that required stairs to be built or traps to be laid, which can be quickly done with a couple of button presses. Crafting weapons was similarly simple. Gathering resources functions is much like any other game with crafting elements, where beating the hell out of trees, cars and other objects yields the resource the object contains.

Combat itself manages to hit the mark. While reductive, the easiest way to describe it is as Borderlands like with the numbers popping off the enemies on successful hits, as well as the title cards that pop up when a new enemy is introduced. The monsters themselves have a fun, cartoonish look that reminds one of the zombies from Plants vs Zombies. This isn’t meant to dismiss Fortnite as hopelessly derivative in style. Instead, the developers are taking some elements that worked elsewhere and bending it to their will.

As a game, Fortnite is something that should be experienced. There’s a level of quality and streamlining here that is missing for other games that allow high amounts of personal building. Combining this with a combat system that is both immediate and entertaining crafts a heady brew. Fortnite has the potential to be a destination game for years to come. It just took awhile to get here. Look for the early access release July 25 for PC, Mac, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.