fort­nite

Early ac­cess with Epic’s long-awaited build-’em-up

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - MARTIN KITTS

Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead is the con­cept be­hind this genre-bend­ing mashup of game styles, not to men­tion a touch of tower de­fence and more loot-filled piñatas than you can shake a sword at. Six years in the mak­ing, it’s now in early ac­cess. So how does it all stack up?

The core game­play is very fa­mil­iar – you, three com­rades and an ar­ray of hard­ware ver­sus wave af­ter wave of zom­bies – but where it dif­fers from stan­dard third per­son shoot­ers is in its large, de­struc­tible, com­pletely re­build­able en­vi­ron­ments.

A typ­i­cal mis­sion in­volves lo­cat­ing an item and build­ing a fort to pro­tect it be­fore sum­mon­ing the zom­bie horde. You can spend as long over the largely en­emy-free pre­am­ble as you like, and at the start ev­ery­one tends to run off sep­a­rately to gather re­sources, hunt for trea­sure and res­cue sur­vivors. Even­tu­ally some­body lo­cates the item you’re look­ing for and the fort-build­ing phase be­gins.

There are just four ba­sic types of build­ing el­e­ment – walls, floors, stairs and roofs – but you can cus­tomise each one by knock­ing out parts of its un­der­ly­ing 3x3 grid. For ex­am­ple, re­mov­ing the top two rows of a wall turns it into a low bar­rier. Re­mov­ing just the cen­tre square makes a large wall with a win­dow, and delet­ing the square be­neath that adds a door.

Once you know a few sim­ple recipes for the many dif­fer­ent arches, pillars, cor­ners and other ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures that are pos­si­ble, you can cre­ate some pretty cool stuff. There are traps, tur­rets and all sorts of de­fen­sive items to con­sider as well. You have con­stant ac­cess to the build­ing menus, so when­ever you feel the need to knock up an emer­gency anti-zom­bie bar­rier or an im­promptu stair­case, you can do so, even in the heat of bat­tle.

Fort knocks

You can make the fort as large as you like but there are bonuses for keep­ing it small. The zom­bie on­slaught can be trig­gered by a sin­gle player at any time, and if no­body de­cides to veto it then you’ve got a few min­utes of in­tense at­tacks to re­pel be­fore ev­ery­one re­turns to their home forts with an equal share of the loot.

For the most part it’s so well pol­ished that’s it’s easy to for­get it’s still in the ‘closed beta’ stage. The menus are a bit con­fus­ing to nav­i­gate, the map could use some ex­pla­na­tion and it did crash on us a cou­ple of times, but to be hon­est we’ve seen just as many rough edges on sup­pos­edly fin­ished games.

Fort­nite isn’t due to launch prop­erly un­til some un­spec­i­fied date in 2018, which gives loads of time for bal­anc­ing and adding new modes. Right now it’s a good game, next year it could be ex­cel­lent, but by then it will also be free to play, which does make the paid early ac­cess thing some­what ques­tion­able value.

No doubt one of the main parts they’ll be tweak­ing is the grind-or-pay drip-feed of de­li­cious loot, with­out which you’ll be ill-equipped to bat­tle the un­dead. Any of the cur­rent founders’ packs won’t leave you short of good­ies, but you’re still be­ing asked to pay up front for a game model that’s de­signed to tempt you into part­ing with small­ish amounts of cash on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. As long as you’re aware of what you might be get­ting into, Fort­nite is worth keep­ing an eye on.

“So pol­ished it’s easy to for­get it’s still in the ‘closed beta’ stage”

Be­low The bits you need to craft ammo can be found by smash­ing cars up.

right Ev­ery home should have a sniper tower and some spiky traps out­side the front door.

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