Fortnite Review - A Fun But Paid Free To Play Experience
When Epic Games said it wouldn't make any other single player games after the Gears of War saga, it was pretty serious. By the time they made that statement, they have only focused on long term, multiplayer and free to play experiences like Paragon and Fortnite. While fans have been largely disappointed looking at how things have turned for such a beloved developer, Epic Games' finances have never been so strong as they are now, thanks to the support of a community built of both long time fans and new, more casual userbase. This just means that they will keep working like they do now, simply because this way grants them profits especially in the long term, with games meant as services that can maintain people engaged and willing to spend both time and money for more time.
Looking at the situation from this perspective, things get pretty interesting when it comes to Fortnite, which comes at a higher price in comparison with Paragon's early access on PC/PS4. It's $39.99, while in the main menu the game clearly states "closed beta" so, you're paying almost the full price for a multiplayer only title that will get free to play in a matter of 6-12 months. Is that right? By the time the game released, over 500,000 users had already pre-ordered it to have access four days in advance. It might not be the greatest thing to hear and more than that it is a trend I don't like very much, but it is undoubtedly working. Can it be a long term success? Well, it'll depend on how supportive the developer will end up being and considering how things are going for Paragon, it'll be but sure enough the main challenge will be to stay relevant in terms of media coverage. Something that is a clear weakness of this brand new "genre".
Content shipping with the game now is pretty good in terms of quantity, as this kind of early access-persistent titles come with lots of stuff you can play and replay to get more and rarer rewards. Sure it's repetitive as hell, but that's something you're used to if you already played Destiny and The Division in the past. One of the most annoying things now it's simply the fact that you're paying for something that is clearly built for being, one day, a free to play title that could, - again one day, also releasing for mobile devices. For example, the game has pop ups and micro-transactions all over the place, and when they're not they're simply mechanics that will lead you, sooner or later, to invest more money on it. It's not much fun when you already dropped around 40 dollars on this earlier version of the game. Rewards you get for having it not free to play 6-12 months ahead are not even that good, or at least you get them when you even understand what they true use is. I remember I spent lots of boosters for XP when I could only use one of them at a time before starting the match, and this means I lost lots of bonuses before I even began my journey in Fortnite. There's a lot of confusion, sure enough, you'll meet especially if you're not used to mobile games.
So, this is the core of the experience. But what about gameplay? Gameplay is a fun hybrid between tower defense and third person shooting. Matches are split into few phases, where you first need to build the proper defenses and then shoot at all the different beasts who can get out of their hiding places. Shooting is pretty fun, which is almost a given with Epic Games despite Fortnite looks like a title for kids, and the building of those defenses is quite quick to get into and comfortable even with PS4/Xbox One controller. At times you can just get confused, especially in the first few hours, as it isn't as intuitive as it should be to prompt certain commands like building a door into a wall, etc. Overall, anyway, you shouldn't have particular issues with the core mechanics. On top of that, it can be weird, I found very fun to explore the locations: the game takes note of how many hours you spend from the start to the end of your mission, even giving you rewards for doing it in just one hour, and the weather/night & day cycle actively works in order to let you face different enemies (with a good amount of different classes) and provide the entire location with a different look. Also, each location like houses, garages, etc. seem to have been abandoned not so much time ago and willing to tell some stories that maybe, just maybe, Epic could be exploring with future expansions. We'll see if and how this happens once the it gets free to play.
Until then, we'll assume you'll fall in love with the amount of customization (classes, heroes, abilities, survivors) and won't get annoyed by the stink of micro-transactions which is all over the place when you play. Oh, and the lama clearly reminded me of Viva Pinata, so But, if you don't, you'll have in your hands a free to play game you're paying $39,99 just months before it releases and delivers you some rewards for being a "founder" which you could not understand before you use and are not even that interesting after all. I guess it's all a matter of balance over here.