NOW PLAY­ING: FORTNITEMARES

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Pub­lisheR Epic Games / De­vel­oper Epic Games / For­mat Xbox One / re­lease date Out Now

It’s Hal­loween as we’re writ­ing this, so what bet­ter time to dive back into

Fort­nite’s Save The World, whose Fortnitemares event re­turns to throw spook­i­ness into the PvE zom­bie sur­vival mix. Oh wait, what? You don’t play Save The World? You only play Bat­tle Royale? Well, sun­shine, you’re miss­ing out on one of the best and most en­joy­able co-op­er­a­tive shoot­ers go­ing.

Fort­nite has it­self had a truly phe­nom­e­nal year with Bat­tle Royale hit­ting record num­bers for con­cur­rent on­line play­ers, and catch­ing the zeit­geist with ev­ery­one ei­ther play­ing it, or con­demn­ing it as the new evil cor­rupt­ing our youth. Back in Au­gust, al­most a year after the Bat­tle Royale mode’s launch, Epic claimed 78.3 mil­lion play­ers glided onto its is­land across all six plat­forms. That’s nuts. But, in case you didn’t know,

Fort­nite started out as an early ac­cess PvE game called Save The World in July 2017… when this writer first got on board (yes, I’ve got the Founders Um­brella in BR, nah nah na-nah). And, to this day, I pre­fer Save The World to Bat­tle Royale. Which in any case, ask any teenager, is now “dead”. That’s ‘dead’ as in pos­si­bly not quite as cool any more, although it’s still clearly do­ing the busi­ness.

Let me ex­plain this to the unini­ti­ated. In Save The World, across a num­ber of modes and events, you de­fend a tar­get – for ex­am­ple, an At­las storm-shrink­ing ma­chine – against hordes of zom­bies, known as the Husk, who are ma­te­ri­al­is­ing out of an apoc­a­lyp­tic storm.

To this end, you’re smash­ing stuff up, min­ing for re­sources with your pick­axe, craft­ing weapons and traps and putting up your Fort around the thing you’re pro­tect­ing. Sound fa­mil­iar? It should, it’s the ba­sis of BR right down to its pick­axe han­dle.

From launch, the beau­ti­ful, char­ac­ter­ful car­toon vi­su­als re­ally turned our heads. The Husk them­selves man­age to be at once scary and zom­bie-like, and… cute. Come on, how cute is it that they wear the faces of the formerly hu­man bod­ies they pos­sess like hood­ies? Then there are the base­ball pitch­ers, and the flam­ing skulled screech­ing ladies, and the gi­ant lum­ber­ing beast­ies. The dif­fer­ent types of Husk and their be­hav­iours are a great bit of game de­sign in them­selves. On top of this, the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter classes and types are fun and won­der­fully re­alised, par­tic­u­larly the launchquar­tet of AC, Ken, Ramirez and Penny, with ab­so­lutely tons of per­son­al­ity.

So we’re fans, right? And we loved last year’s Fortnitemares, so de­spite the ab­so­lute tidal wave of amaz­ing new ti­tles, not least Red Dead

Redemp­tion II, to get our fangs into right now, we couldn’t re­sist see­ing what this year’s Hal­loween-themed spook­i­ness would bring.

Penny for your forts

Play­ing as con­struc­tor Penny – in last year’s Hal­loween cos­tume, as Cat­struc­tor Penny – we head back into the game’s event set­ting, Hexyl­va­nia. We love Penny, she’s one of the game’s strong­est char­ac­ters with a wealth of great di­a­logue and movie ref­er­ences de­liv­ered in her very English ac­cent, as she does sar­casm as only the English can. She also kicks ass with a bull-rush charge and the use­ful abil­ity as a con­struc­tor to be able to ex­tra-for­tify build­ings.

“From launch the beau­ti­ful, char­ac­ter­ful car­toon vi­su­als in Save The World turned our heads”

Plonked into a spooky for­est, our ro­bot com­pan­ion and fount of all ex­po­si­tion, Ray, screeches on about scary stuff and much evil abound­ing. For the event’s first mis­sion, we’re asked to ex­plore the gloomy sur­round­ings. Ray gives us some point­ers and we’re off to the lo­ca­tions she’s put on our map, find­ing aban­doned cot­tages, clus­ters of up­right-sleep­ing Husks, and, even­tu­ally, the source of all evil in these parts. There’s a mas­sive Tran­syl­va­nian cas­tle in the mid­dle of the for­est, be­long­ing to some­one called Vlad. Ray re­minds us we’re here to take read­ings of the Storm, and in­structs us to put up four bits of equip­ment in cer­tain op­ti­mal cas­tle ar­eas. Once we’ve found these lo­ca­tions, we put up the equip­ment and are told that we have a few min­utes to for­tify those ma­chines, which hordes of in­com­ing Husk will be hell-bent on smash­ing up. Oh good. Four lo­ca­tions to de­fend is, in Save The World terms, a right witch. Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing our at­tempts to put up brick, metal or wooden walls and traps around the sen­sors is the cas­tle’s com­plex ar­chi­tec­ture – arches, steps, gates and so forth that pre­vent us from do­ing a straight ‘box it over’ job. We do our best to block off as many ap­proaches to the sen­sors as pos­si­ble be­fore the count­down

be­gins and the Husk rock up. Epic fail Now, this is meant to be a four-player co-op game, but we’re alone – there’s no­body else in our in­stance, and we’re won­der­ing why. Is no one play­ing this game? Is it the time of day? Is ev­ery­one play­ing Red Dead right now? What­ever, poor Penny’s go­ing to have to han­dle this alone. A cou­ple of epi­clevel weapons, in­clud­ing a shot­gun and a mas­sive ham­mer, are all that stand be­tween those im­por­tant sen­sors and the en­croach­ing storm of Husks. To add to be­ing mas­sively out­num­bered, find­ing our way round the many rooms, tight cor­ri­dors and con­fus­ingly un­fa­mil­iar lay­out when we need to re­turn to de­fend any of our fail­ing ma­chines is prov­ing tricky. This cer­tainly favours the brain­less, re­lent­less Husk, and even­tu­ally our mis­sion fails with Penny crawl­ing around on all fours, lives spent, laid low by the Husk.

At its core, Save The World is a whole heap of fun, but there’s depth here with a spaghetti-mud­dle of meta-game me­chan­ics in­volv­ing pas­sive de­fend­ers, craft­ing and lev­el­ling up, so that if you re­ally want, you can spend a long time per­fect­ing your play-style. It’s a shame then that it has been over­shad­owed by the pop­u­lar­ity of the game’s Bat­tle Royale. It’s also suf­fer­ing from a de­lay in go­ing Free to Play – some­thing it needs very badly if it’s go­ing to get the num­bers play­ing it. Fortnitemares it­self, while still an event worth play­ing, feels like a rep­e­ti­tion of last year’s theme, a shame­ful ne­glect of the mode while all of Epic’s re­sources are clearly be­ing chan­nelled into Bat­tle Royale. My fear, as a fan of Save The World, is that by bring­ing PvE el­e­ments into Bat­tle Royale (specif­i­cally, zom­bies), Epic might in­stead put all its gam­ing eggs into one bas­ket and Save The World may face a slow but cer­tain death. We sin­cerely hope not. Save our Save The World – the cam­paign starts here.

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