Epic’s co-op build-o-shooter Fortnite hits early access

Fortnite [official site], the base-building zombie-blaster from Epic Games, launched into paid early access today. Epic are best known for competitive megamurder games like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War but Fortnite is a lot friendlier. It’s a cooperative class-based shooter where players scavenge for supplies, craft items, and build traps and bases to fend off zombies who fancy a nibble on their noggin. Epic plan to make Fortnite free-to-play when it’s properly finished and launched in 2018 but if you want to mash monsters with your mates maintenant, you can pay to help Epic test it.

So! There are zombies. They are not your friends. They wish to murder you and heck, you wish the same on them. So off you go, scavenging for supplies to craft weapons, traps, and items as well as build a homebase. And then you re-kill the zombies. To use everyone’s favourite form of crude comparison: it’s Orcs Must Die meets Minecraft down DayZ’s local.

It looks a little something like this:

We’ve not had a look at Fortnite in yonks but we did recently gab a little with Epic about how usability testing helped shape it.

Fortnite early access costs £34.99/39,99€/$39.99 through Epic and their own Launcher. The full free-to-play launch is expected some time in 2018. If you do buy in during early access, Epic will throw in-game ‘loot packs’ at you. F2P guff, yeah?

Gosh, it’s been almost six years since Epic originally announced Fortnite.

26 Comments

  1. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I love this game, it’s came an awful long way since it first hit closed alpha. The team listened to feedback and there is a shedload of content to be had. I also think it will play ok for the completely free people when it leaves early access although the extra llama packs are very welcome.

    • dontnormally says:

      Is it anything like Monday Night Combat? I always loved playing as the turret-builder guy.

      (the good one on xbox, not the crappy f2p that came to pc)

      • Stinkfinger75 says:

        Unfortunately it is nothing like MNC, but I am having a very good time with it.

        Both of those games were so good, and SMNC was pretty far ahead of its time in my opinion.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Is it… not available on steam? Gross.

    Edit: To clarify: I just don’t want another damn launcher. I already have steam, battle.net occasionally, Oculus, and rarely UPlay or Origin.

    Argh.

    • aepervius says:

      no worries what is even more disgusting is the pay option after you have shelled already for the game. The way i understand it the price cited does not give you access to the full game including all doodad, but rather you get cosmetic and unlock “easier” than F2P and you will have pretty much top shell additional money down the line. That is why they have even more expansive edition with a certain amount of additional items “worth” 100 euro (extra inventory, extra vault slot, 99 “pinata” etc…). The preliminary verdict for me , seeing the business model of double dipping, is “avoid at all cost”.

      • Premium User Badge

        Nauallis says:

        Ugh, yikes, thanks for the heads-up. It’s already a turn-off to buy now, knowing that it’s going free to play later. But buying up front, and then having additional premiums (albeit potentially optional ones?), no thank you. This is a large part of why I refuse to play WoW.

        • aepervius says:

          I was very interested too, I would have ignored the no-steam, but then I saw that… It was like having the best chicken sandwich in the world, and then the taste turn to ash in your mouth.

      • ludde says:

        Ugh, hasn’t the world had enough with shitty business models already? Or is there some never ending flood of new people to rip off that companies don’t need to change their ways?

    • DarkFenix says:

      Yeah, them using exclusively their own store/launcher (ie. yet another unnecessary one) has instantly put this game into my ‘ignore’ category.

      I use Steam for basically all my games. I willingly use Battle.net and reluctantly use UPlay on occasion. I’ve already drawn the line and refused to use Origin, so what chance does Epic think it has?

      Strikes me that by that one move of not using Steam they’ve instantly cut their potential sales by at least half.

      • Ghostwise says:

        But they saved the 30% Steam cut.

        • NOPper says:

          And don’t have to worry about folks checking it out for two hours and grabbing a refund.

          • DarkFenix says:

            When the two hour refund becomes an issue worth significant worry for developers, they have far bigger problems than release platform.

          • Slazia says:

            They don’t have to worry about folks checking it out at all.

  3. Matys says:

    Can anyone give their two cents on low long the game holds up as you progress? A couple of my friends snagged it but the early stages look yawn inducing and insultingly easy. Anything on varied play styles or building or how the f2p plays into weapons or characters would be super appreciated.

    • LuNatic says:

      The early stages of the game a appear to have been balanced for an entry level F2P experience. The problem is, everyone who currently has access to the game has expensive founders packs which supply a starting cache of well above entry level equipment.

      People are saying the difficulty goes up a lot once you get into the second zone, but I’m not there yet.

  4. DeFrank says:

    Consensus on neogaf appears to be that’s it’s good (even with randoms) and it does get tougher.

    link to neogaf.com

  5. Vivid8 says:

    I’m not sure what is with the people claiming ‘they listened to the community’. They didn’t. The game is ultra ultra grindy, like the metacritic reviews state, this is right from the slot machine theory text book. The game is meant for you to feel ultra invested while never satisfied, and that has only gotten WORSE over the years. I was ultra hyped about this when they first announced it, but the moment they touched F2P they ruined it. Like ALL F2P games they have forsaken making a fun, working game in favor of a system which pressures you to spend, spend, spend. Just like any Pay 2 Win game, spending doesn’t just get you cool stuff, it can make a world of difference. I’ve learned to tolerate F2P pushing cosmetic gear, whatever, so I’ll never look cool, but if it’s fun then I’m fine. However Fortnite is stuck in designs from 5+ years ago, virtually everything has a functional impact. Everything is deeply complex, not to make the game work, but to ensure there is nearly an unlimited amount of things to spend your money on. While the videos play it off like the majority of the game is build and fight, it is actually very minecraft in that it is actually all about gathering resources, resources that you get very slowly at best. ‘Rare’ resources are virtually absent and of course, rare isn’t rarely needed, just rarely gotten unless paid for. For instance a basic rifle may require a series of basic resources to build, the same rifle as a uncommon or rare quality will suddenly require rare resources to now make. Mind you, this is not a different and better item, it is simply the same item with mildly improved stats. This wouldn’t be as bad if item did not breakdown with use, but they do, so IF you are lucky enough to find the resources needed to make the item, you’ll cringe everytime you have to use it because you know it’s being damaged and the chances you’ll find enough of the resources to build it again are slim. Building is moderately fun, but ultimately unrewarding. Most maps requires you to play through them once or twice to learn where enemies will typically come from, because with how long it takes to gather resources you’re less likely to build a fort and more likely to build a series of lone standing walls and floors to focus your defense from those directions. Just like weapons, defensive structures also require rarer and rarer resources to build the better defenses. Everything is in pretty large quantities too when compared to how much of any given resource you find. Again, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING feels like the goal of money was the focus and concern and everything else is just window dressing to hide a payment system. It’s two steps short of simply being a “put your credit card info here and press pay to WIN!!!” screen. Every single mechanic of the game is focused on strongly urging you to pay for a chest to get better items, resources, blue prints, etc. The short sight is that the game, under everything, isn’t very fun because of how handicapped the experience is due to this profit focus. The funny thing is I see people blaming gearbox for this, but if you look at the wildly successful Borderland series, this is NOT how they run a franchise. Whoever screwed this up though, one thing is for sure, they DID screw this up.

    • aepervius says:

      I have a pretty much identical assessment after watching some low and higher level play. And seeing how much the “pinata” were giving in items to fill the squads, and in higher quality weapon, while the reward at the end did not.

      It would have been a fantastic game without the F2P Shenanigans.

    • Bloodoflamb says:

      Thanks for the insights. But dude. Paragraphs.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      I appreciate what you wrote – but why would anybody blame Gearbox for this? They are simply the distributor for physical media. Epic Games is both the developer and the publisher, and as such they are entirely responsible for the business decisions therein.

      …That’s like getting mad at Walmart because Lego sets don’t have the correct pieces in the box. Is this a British thing, getting frustrated at stores because of the products they carry?

  6. ComradeSnarky says:

    “Please pay us for the privilege of playing our unfinished F2P game.”

    I’ll pass, thanks. It’s really a shame because this looks like a great concept that will be totally compromised by F2P nonsense.

    • Stinkfinger75 says:

      To be fair, the game feels mostly finished. There’s some polish around the edges that needs tidied up, but there’s a massive amount of game in there already.

  7. racccoon says:

    No….not early access.
    I think Early access should be renamed to Emergency hospital cases of doomed. EHCod.. lol

  8. LuNatic says:

    So I’ve bought in. I’m really enjoying it. After seeing the trailers, a lot of people are comparing it to L4D and Orcs Must Die. It doesn’t really play like either.

    The whole tower defense side of things is a bit gimped – The AI doesn’t pathfind through mazes, instead just bashing it’s way through them in an almost straight line to the objective. A bit disappointing, and I hope it’ll change.

    Most defenses are carried by the players – the gunplay feels really good. The weapons are interesting, and they’ve done a great job of making each types feel and play differently – even within the same category.(eg the double barrel , pump action and clip shotguns all warrant a different play style for maximum effect)

    While the real money system is very much designed to catch addictive personalities ( Llama pinatas! They are cute! And colourful! And Sassy!), it’s better value than most. Compare TF2, where a $2.50 key will get you one item from a small selection of possibilities, a llama here is $1 and will get you 5-10 items with anything in the game being a possible drop. Sometimes llamas upgrade to silver or gold when you hit them, giving more loot and guaranteeing at least some high quality gear. The game also gives you lots of free llamas – it’s far more generous than Overwatch.

    My favourite part of the game is exploring. The missions drop you into an instanced map (urban, industrial, forest) and almost everything in them can be harvested as resources. Loot is hidden everywhere. It reminds me of The Forest, rushing around harvesting materials and exploring while trying to avoid getting ambushed and destroyed by the swarms of roaming bad guys.

    The progression tree is massive. If you like to grind, there are a ridiculous number of things to unlock and upgrade – but if you don’t, you’ll still easily get enough skill points and unlocks to build your character to suit your playstyle without having to grind repetitive missions.

    My biggest complaint is the interface – it’s taken me days to understand the menu system and various skill/upgrade/buff mechanics. It is not intuitive in the slightest, but as wikis are updated anyone joining in now will have an easier experience than I had. It still needs to be changed though. I lost some desirable weapon schematics learning to use a system that isn’t adequately explained in game.

  9. Jalan says:

    This may be fun under the right circumstances, but after 5-6 years in the cooker and having seen the obligatory “first looks” of it, my own interest in it has diminished greatly. Too early to speculate on what the player drop off will be, but something tells me it will be a significant number.

  10. haldolium says:

    I remember this was the first UE4 title that been announced. Looked somewhat interesting back then, now I lost interest entirely. Mainly due to that horrible business model.