Fortnite is… that right there. Epic Games is known for the Gears of War franchise, which has an excellent co-op “Horde Mode” and Unreal Tournament, a fast-paced multiplayer shooter with creative weaponry. People Can Fly is known for Painkiller and Bulletstorm, two shooters that mix good mechanics with extravagant murder and a crude sense of humor. Neither of these companies are known for having a robust and quality storyline, or venturing outside of the gun-wielding genres.
No surprise here- Gears of War is considered one of the big dogs of third-person shooters, and the expertise from the franchise carries over. Fighting off husks while balancing building repairs and ability cooldowns works like a charm. The game borrows more from the action pace of Gears of War, forgoing heavy mobility in favor of deliberate choice. I feel like I’d have preferred the opposite, but it’s still great and your mileage may vary.
Making things on the fly is fun. Finally scrounging together the resources to make a new gun or quickly jerry-rigging a base together after some random asshole activated the defense phase early is a good mix of strategy and necessity. There’s never a loss for inventory, and there’s not enough ingredients that you may lack a weapon in a crucial fight, but you may have to settle for whichever weapon you can scramble together, which isn’t a bad thing.
Pick your base aesthetics, pick your traps, pick your heroes, pick your guns, pick your role. Experimentation is fun, but adding your A-game to the mix every now and then feels like a reward all its own.
The witty banter and dark humor of People Can Fly pokes its head out here. The narration has some funny lines and a good number of quips during their exposition. It’s never emphasized much, and that’s a shame; it’s good dialogue.
The Progression System
The best progression systems have every form of progress tied to two others. This concept applies big time here, giving the player a fun number of goals in every single match, giving each defense, each fort, and each enemy a new experience, even if you’ve done it before.
Epic Games opted for a cartoonish look this time around, and it helps big time with clarity. Colors pop to indicate objectives and items of interest, and many things in a busy screen can be deciphered simply from their silhouette. Considering that Gears and Unreal suffer from a case of desaturated environment syndrome, it’s good to see them take a page from People Can Fly’s playbook.
The Thiccness and The Beefcake
No really, when was the last time you’ve seen cuties with a booty without them being comedic relief in games? The game goes really far to cover every conceivable body type and ethnicity, like they received an affirmative action order from Tumblr, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just means I can run around as a fat-assed spanish chick with a british accent. Also, there’s buff dudes, too, but I can’t really say much. I mean, there’s some diverse dude bodies in there, too, so there’s gotta be something for the ladies, right?
Laggy, unresponsive, and in about 40-50 hours of my playtime, subject to crashing half a dozen times. Not to mention, navigation of the relatively large skill tree and seemingly simple mission map has issues with navigating through it, where the D-Pad is insufficient, and the analog stick is inaccurate. Furthermore, while many options are present, many options aren’t even available-like weapon and trap crafting/retiring in the menus-, and it’s still a poorly organized mess.
This is part of the reason I’m bummed by a lack of Unreal Tournament-brand speed and mobility. Wanna know how long it takes to collect materials? Too long. The crafting is good, and the exploration can even be enjoyable, but the actual act of gathering the materials is a little grueling, especially if you’re looking for just one item.
Not to mention, while the progression is fun, the scaling costs for upgrading items makes investing in your top heroes and items a slog, or forces you to invest in things you don’t care for just to ‘bring them up’. And let’s be real: half of the heroes kinda suck.
Paying for Early Access
The fact that a F2P game doesn’t have a F2P option at the beginning is stupid. F2P is a pay model given to a game to boost player numbers, which either gives paying players more allies to play with or more opponents to fight against. Intentionally stifling your player base hurts everybody.
There is one, but you’ll struggle to find it. Besides the brief pieces of dialogue explaining the latest mission, there’s only scraps of banter discussing furthering a semblance of plot. Two cutscenes at the beginning, and you’re off.
Elevator music. Like, in-game and in-menu. It could be improved with some public domain easy listening, soft rock, and pop rap, but nope… elevator music.
The Complicated Skill Tree
Skill trees can be fun. Skill trees that limit EVERYTHING a player can do is less so. Fortnite also uses one of those ‘buy 5 shitty skills before you get the one you want and repeat‘-type trees. It can be condensed and save face.
Bad Teammates Fuck Up Everything
The main parts of combat are built for four players co-operating. But when people split up, and one person starts the fight sequence or improperly builds the fort, it can become a struggle to succeed. One bad player can outweigh three good ones at times.
Limited Mission Structure
“Find a target at a randomized location. Activate it, and protect it for a period of time.” There’s a couple of variations on that structure, but don’t get too optimistic. Exploring a map, collecting materials and fighting baddies is the name of the game. Luckily it’s fun, but some might find it repetitive after some rounds, progress and customization be damned.
The Epic Unreal Engine
This engine has existed for like decades, and after 4 iterations, and countless upgrades, it still has issues with things like rudimentary physics and quick texture loading. In a game where you can tear down a building, seeing real destruction would be nice, but that’s not the case here. Also, be prepared to see a ton of textures look blurred as fuck before they pop in. Fuck, these issues were in Unreal Tournament 3 back on the PS3,and we’re still dealing with it.
Why the Difference?
The repetition and F2P aspects seem to kill people’s interest greatly, but for a guy who enjoys KOEI Tecmo games without sarcasm, and is very interested in different business models for games, they’re less of a problem for me, leaving a great game with really shitty menus. Like, God fucking damnit, fix these menus…