One of the most peculiar traditions of the videogame world is to define a genre by assimilating the mechanics to a reference work: “metroidvania” and “soulslike” are just some of the most famous examples. It happens very often that, by virtue of this habit, one tries to describe a videogame by summing up the “loans” or the reinterpretations of other works.
Thus, each title with elements of creation and sandbox of the last years is transformed into the minds of the players in a “similar Minecraft”, and even the specialized press frequently relies on similar formulas, such as the now famous “Skyrim with guns” for describe Far Cry 3. Net of particularly fresh and original cases (Rocket League), it is difficult to be able to not compare this or that element to something else, and this often leads us to get bored perhaps sooner than expected, because everything seems to us already seen, already done. Sometimes, however, even those titles built on mechanics and structures already known can rewrite them in order to make them interesting, well done and fun. This is the case with Fortnite.
A cataclysm hit the Earth, 98% of the population disappeared, and we are among the few survivors of the undefined “Tempesta”, an event that teleports the abject (this is the name of our enemies) in every area still populated, to annihilate the last remaining men. Obviously it will be up to us to save humanity, building a strong able to defend ourselves and allow us to fight back.
After seeing the kinematics of the game beginning, and after having faced the tutorial, we will be ready to start the construction of our home-base, a real fort in which we will constantly return to expand our area of influence. The fort will be the player’s operational core in each of the four macro-areas we will fight during the adventure, but it will not be the only structure we will have to build. In fact, the game will often send us to the various regions of the area, asking us to defend a specific area, not only dispensing abundant doses of bullets and blows, but also reinforcing the place with walls, traps and defensive structures.
Since the first mission it is quite clear how the experience offered by Fortnite can basically be divided into three parts: resource management, strategic construction of structures, combat. Each of these parts is very well linked to the others, and it is mandatory to keep an eye on every parameter, if you want to quickly get to build an impregnable fort. Given that the Fortnite experience is totally and exquisitely playful, the narrative element remains always very marginal: to highlight, if anything, is the cartoonish and light graphic style, which is also able to underline a general irony, always above the lines, imbued with a bit of self-criticism towards the stereotypes of the genre.
Although there are therefore “secondary missions” characterized by narrative stimuli, and despite being the script to “guide” us on map, in reality it is clear that everything is just an excuse to allow us to shoot and build with friends. Judging from the result obtained by some MMOs more directed towards a sensationalistic realism and very focused on the reproduction of apocalyptic atmospheres, it is better that way.
The Fortnite resource management menu initially leaves you out of focus. The amount of activities and objects to take into account is enormous: the number of heroes, defenders, survivors, weapons projects is difficult to manage initially, and this could stun more than one player. In reality the progression of the game centered these contents, giving us the time to learn the function well before discovering the new mechanics. Once the first missions have been completed, we will begin, for example, to have a more precise idea of the abilities and special effects of each hero and weapon, knowingly creating our personal army.
Each character (described by a class and by various subclasses), has specific and unique abilities that make it more or less suited to certain missions, forcing us to vary hero to hero according to need. In addition, even weapons (divided according to the classic MMO rarity system) are situational, with area skills, elemental damage, ranged or in close combat. In this sense, the white weapons, undoubtedly dominating the tastes of the online gaming community, which faces the waves of abjectors with clubs, rakes and enhanced crowbars, certainly deserve mention.
This makes interesting the evolution of the endgame, which is not linked to the recovery of complete sets of the highest possible level, but focuses more than anything else on collecting weapons and structures suitable for certain enemies and certain purposes. Moreover, the fact that every weapon can be damaged forces us to use the most powerful only in certain situations, also because the elements necessary for their construction are often difficult to find.
The weapons from the distance are in any case very varied and fun, with an excellent feeling returned by every shot, and even in this case their use varies from case to case: faster enemies need a good rate of fire, while Slow but powerful giants require precision and power. Given the excellent overall quality of the mechanics especially, the presence of a mode of “peaceful invasion” (in which we enter the bases of others to help other players in the defense), allows the less attracted by the farming and the tactical aspect of the game to concentrate purely on the shootings, definitely fun and rewarding.
On the other hand, the need to slowly unlock contents greatly damages the overall experience, since we will face substantially identical waves for many hours before we can see a new enemy appear, characterized by new animations and tactics. Furthermore, limiting oneself to occasionally increasing the life and the harm of some abject ones to increase the level of challenge is not only a symptom of scarce originality, but also of bad design. The title, in short, forces the user to endure long sessions of play that are likely to be monocord, boring, not very lively: a structural problem not a little, which tends to dampen the enthusiasm.
Construction base of Fortnite game
If the “ruolistic” element and the shooting phases prove to be solid overall, it is in the creation and use of the defensive structures that the game shows its best qualities. It is necessary to make a premise: Fortnite is not Minecraft. In Fortnite you can not create everything you want: we can not decorate the rooms, we are not allowed to add details, we are not allowed to live them in other contexts that are not warlike. Consequently, we must understand that every structure and trap is designed for a purpose, which is that of resistance to the enemy: any other kind of creation can at most show off the architect’s creative abilities (and already we see crazy bases from the early access ), but the beating heart of experience is another.
Considering all this, the quantity and quality of traps and options for the player is excellent, and the developers have managed to keep the challenge balanced thanks to an excellent artificial intelligence of the enemy, in addition to a variety of abjectes good enough sin from the early stages. Unfortunately, the management of maps diminishes most of the player’s efforts: it will often happen, in fact, to discover that the planning work of some parts of the region will be completely useless, since the enemies will tend to move only from the borders of the map to the strong central.
It would have served a functional system to stress every area defended by the player, who instead finds himself having to protect the same sector sometimes for several waves in a row. That said, the variety of usable tactics is amazing, and it’s fun to experiment with different approaches: for example, trying to cage your enemies in a labyrinth of traps built on the East side, and placing them in front of the cross fire of our survivors on the other side. To block the most powerful enemies before they come to do concrete damage thanks to the appropriate positioning of the defenses is a wonderful feeling, and Fortnite succeeds in transmitting all the satisfaction of a good planning.
Too bad, on the other hand, that this enthusiasm is inevitably dampened by the conceptual repetitiveness of the missions, and also by a quantity of content anything but exemplary, if you think that the game was presented even in 2011, and remained in phase Early Access for many years. The fact that there are only four maps available, for example, does not particularly play in favor of the variety of atmospheres and situations. Undoubtedly, something more was expected.