Fortnite is a difficult beast to review. On one hand, I really like it. On the other hand, I hate it from here to hell. It combines a few of my favourite games together into one solid release. There’s the fort building and resource gathering aspect which is kind of Minecraft-ish, and then there’s the waves of zombies that come at you and your three compadres, a little like Left 4 Dead or any other game with a horde mode. Awesome, right? Kind of.
Fortnite is a free-to-play game that’s currently in ‘Early Access’. So for now it’ll cost you around $40/£40 to get in, but if you wait until sometime next year you’ll be playing the game for nothing.
The game starts off by having you do some tutorial missions aided by a hapless droid that barely knows what it’s doing. It’s all quite comical in that sense, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, though you’d probably have guessed that just from the game’s cartoon-inspired graphics. That’s not a bad thing and I actually quite like the bolded out designs of the game’s environments, characters, and even the enemies, although they don’t look all that menacing considering that they’re man-eating killers…
The story unfolds slowly over the opening hour or two to explain that most of the planet’s people have been killed, monsters have risen to take over, and the world is in the grip of some pretty shitty weather with apocalyptic storms raging overhead. Your job is to build a base, defend it, and also try to clear these nasty storm clouds so humanity can rise up and be the great civilisation is
once was aspired to be but never will be.
The general gameplay loop consists of you and your buddies (though you can play solo) fortifying your defenses to defend a MacGuffin, then fighting off waves of mutant zombie monsters. That’s the gist of it in a nutshell, though there’s a little variety in some missions. Sometimes you’ll be given an a procedurally generated mini-open world to explore, find resources, and generally have a mooch around in until someone activates the main task and unleashed hell. It’s all quite straight forward in the gameplay department, and though the game doesn’t exactly run the smoothest, it’s still a blast to play thanks to the decent controls, a wide-range of heroes to play as, and some really smart design choices. Laying traps and building up a base isn’t difficult in the slightest, and it’s always a tense moment when the horde arrives and you wonder if your defenses will hold.
So, we’ve got the general gameplay locked down, but what about the free-to-play aspects? Well, this is where Fortnite falls head-over-arse, if you’ll excuse my French.
Fortnite is a free-to-play game, that much is known, and if you buy into the Early Access version of the game you’ll get a whole bunch of in-game goodies. Personally, I’m not a fan of free-to-play games as they’re tedious by their very nature – as I’m sure many others are, too. The game attempts to hook players in with the promise of “loot” which, in my opinion is just pathetic. I read on a forum somewhere (can’t remember where) someone asking if the game was good. One forum member’s reply was “there’s lot of loot, it’s great.” This doesn’t do it for, I’m afraid, and it’s this kind of crap that got Ubisoft’s The Division put on eBay after a week. If you’re all down for grinding for hours on end for random loot, great, I’m happy for you. For me, it’s as big a turn off as a cheeky finger in the bum.
My distaste for loot aside, it’s not the only problem the game has. As is common in free-to-play releases, there are overly complicated menus with dozens and dozens of bits and pieces. Honestly, I’m a busy guy and I’ve not got the patience to spend my free time learning menus that require an encyclopedia to decipher. Not to mention the constant bombardment of “prizes” awarded to you after playing games – I’ve no clue what they do, nor do I care. I just want to shoot bad guys and build a base.
I guess what you could gather from this review is that I don’t really like the free-to-play model, and despite the fact that the actual gameplay is really good, a big part of me wishes it was just a regular release without all the monetisation being shoved down my throat every time I boot the bloody thing up.
Fortnite PS4 Review
Fortnite does gameplay straight up brillianty. What it doesn’t do so well is manage the grind. You’ll be forever skipping through complicated menus, dismissing annoying notifications and waiting to get back into the action. The base-building is genuinely a rewarding experience, and playing through with a few mates is a true joy – it’s just the free-to-play aspects that bog this one down.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the Early Access version of the game that was provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella.