If building forts and fending off hordes of cartoonish zombies sounds fun to you then here's a game to keep on your radar. Fortnite is a brand new cooperative sandbox survival experience from Epic Games that can be a lot of fun but is it worth diving into early?
Generally speaking, the goal of most of Fortnite's missions involve protecting something from the inevitable oncoming zombie assault. In order to do so, you'll first need to build defenses around the feature that you're trying to protect. Once the zombies come, you can fight them as well which reminded me a lot of 5th Cell's DS classic Lock's Quest. Anyway, you build structures from found materials including wood, brick, and steel. These buildings consist of walls, floors / ceilings, and stairs but where things get interesting is in the trap system. You can craft these traps from found materials and stick them to various surfaces in order to automatically harm any zombies who trigger them. The freedom of being able to build wherever and however you wish alongside your online teammates is extremely open-ended and ultimately (and more importantly) fun.
Taking on the zombies in combat is quite standard for this sort of game. However, the most interesting part about it is the fact that you make your own weapons and ammo. Even if you have a favourite sidearm, you may have to swap it out eventually due to it breaking but this dynamic actually helps mix up the gameplay as opposed to becoming frustrating. In the end, whether you enjoy smashing zombies with a hammer or sniping them off from a faraway tower, there's a lot of carnage to enjoy in Fortnite.
There are so many ways to unlock goodies in Fortnite. For starters, you gain points that you can spend in a skill tree as well as research points that you use to craft new features. Whenever you're on a mission, you'll discover hard-to-find treasure vaults that contain valuable items and once you've completed the mission, you're awarded with a certain tier of chest that corresponds to how well you and your team performed. Once in a while, you'll acquire a Llama Pinata that you can whack open to earn even more goodies.
As I've already mentioned, you have the ability to craft a vast assortment of equipment and traps. Obtaining the necessary materials for these items is pretty simple as all you need to do is search different stage features such as bushes and toolboxes as well as destroy certain objects to gain the materials that they're made of. It's easy and intuitive although some things don't make a lot of sense. For example, why do I get bricks from attacking a traffic cone? That must be some heavy duty plastic!
Unfortunately, a lot of grinding is required if you want to progress further along in Fortnite's campaign. The mission system is set up so that you'll complete them easily when you first start playing but then you'll notice that things begin to slow down to a halt after playing for a dozen hours or so. Another aspect that contributes to this is the fact that the growth mechanics are so elaborate and can be rather intimidating if you're not the kind of gamer who enjoys spending lots of time fumbling around in menus. Overall, the required grinding is Fortnite's most divisive feature as you'll either love slowly optimizing your setup or quickly get bored of trying.
After all is said and done, is Fortnite Early Access worth buying or should you wait? Simply put, Fortnite consists of a very enjoyable mix of gameplay mechanics that makes cooperating online to conquer missions a ton of fun. Therefore, if you don't mind having to grind then it is worth a purchase but if it sounds a bit too intimidating then you'll be better off waiting until next year when it'll be free-to-play.