Premature Evaluation: Fortnite

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It’d be easy for me to describe Fortnite [official site] as “DIY Left 4 Dead”. It’s the recent free-to-play zombie shooter from Epic Games [correction: it will be free-to-play but it’s non-sale price is currently £34.99 for a ‘Founder’s Pack’], tasking you and three pals with building defences and scavenging supplies between waves of cartoonish undead, all spawned into existence by a paranormal purple storm. But to compare it so readily to Valve’s co-op shooter would evoke a brilliance it simply lacks. Fortnite is one of the most obnoxiously loud and over-designed games I’ve played in a long while.

The premise is much simpler than what transpires on-screen: the world is being ravaged by all sorts of strange zombos, here called “husks”. Some of them are fat and carry explosive propane tanks, some of them throw bones at you, some lob flaming noggins, some of them have bee hives stuck on their heads.

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Like all good zombies, they dislike walls and people who build walls. As the foremost wall-builder of this world, you go into each large level (filled with destructible cars, petrol stations, apartment buildings, trees, boulders, and so on) to collect wood, bricks, metal and other stuff in order to build up a defensive area around an important device or objective. Then, when you and your three friends are ready, you hit a button and defend against an oncoming horde for a few minutes, using firearms, swords, air strikes and other character-based skills. Once the timer runs out, hurray, you did it. Collect your XP, your gift-wrapped loot crate, and it’s back to the menu screens.

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The forts you’re building in these levels are intended to be impermanent, hodge-podge creations, thrown together using the game’s simple but flexible building system. You can craft traps as you go, placing down spikes on the ground or darts that fire from the walls, provided you have the blueprints for these creations. There’s a bit of an Orcs Must Die! feeling to the fortification process. You know which direction the enemy horde is coming from, so you can anticipate their path when they do arrive, laying down an alley of retractable iron spikes on the ground or zappy ceiling traps in critical chokepoints.

You also craft bullets and new guns the same way, dipping into your crafting menus to mush together a new shotgun or heavy machine gun as your current gun’s durability starts to warn you of a collapse. Only your home base (a headquarters undergoing constant bit-by-bit improvement over the course of a long tutorial campaign) is static and yours. But even that location is considered a recurring “level”, a place where the player is transported between ceaseless trips to the menu screens. If there’s something new players should know going into this, it’s that this isn’t a sandbox game in the traditional sense, nor is it a survival game, despite its efforts to look, feel, sound and act like one. It’s a noisy loot-focused shooter, one with more pointless numbers than you will ever care to look at or understand.

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There is character to it. The animation and artwork is a fun mash-up between Plants vs Zombies and Team Fortress 2, with a large and diverse cast of heroes, each with particular skills and advantages. Some are constructors who can charge at enemies and push them back a great distance. Others are nippy ninjas who excel at using melee weapons and weaving their way through the zombie mob. Others are skilled in scavenging items at a quicker rate, some are simply better marksmen. Later on, universal skills like the ability to call in an airstrike allow you to customise your character further.

But once you’re on the map, the colourful world and kooky characters can’t distract you from the baseline atmosphere of aimless farming and zombie bashing. Aside from the main job of fort defence (which you can instigate at will) there are a lot of small tasks to do during any jaunt into the suburbs or parkland areas – save survivors from some husks, collect supplies, defend a crashed drone, collect radio broadcasts – but each small task is the same as the last with a different skin. Sometimes you can choose to build a radar tower to a glowing ghostly specification, which will help point out survivors. But even that is not very distinct from your main goal in each level.

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In short, I found it difficult to overcome the sense of repetition, the motive-less wood collecting, the same old survivor-saving. When combat does occur, it’s a straightforward, head-shooting matter of crowd control. I’d say it was like shooting fish in a barrel but by the time I fired at most of my enemies, there was a 50% chance they’d already been felled by a team mate. In this analogy, I was constantly approaching the barrel with my 9mm ready and then exclaiming: “Hey, these fish have already been shot.”

As unexciting as the fighting and screw-scavenging is, it does pick up as your progress. Hordes become more numerous and the mix of enemies more diverse, serving to make you reconsider your makeshift tower defence decisions. Small, fast-moving husks appear to put pressure on you, firey grenadier husks force you to make sure you’ve got a roof over the device you’re protecting. Still, I never felt as “against the wall” as I have in the Left 4 Dead, for example. Even the hardest battle here hasn’t seen my team losing a single steel wall from our cobbled-together compound. Bullets and guns are used to such a good effect in most scenarios of the game that there is barely any need for the other Orcs! style traps and defences, and using them often feels like you’ve wasted a good trap. Only when the story shoves you back to your home base – the only place where building things is permanent – did it feel like spikey floors and wall darts were absolutely necessary. Probably because these missions usually see you defending your base alone.

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But it’s possible I haven’t reached the point at which the hurt starts coming. Of course, I don’t feel compelled to reach that point either, because Fortnite is only 50% shooting and car-bashing. The other 50% is being trapped in a cacophonous chamber of free-to-play sub-menus and half-features, all screaming for attention like a box full of stinking ferret babies.

I’ve already explained how at the end of a level all you’ve built is gone. You and your team mates go your separate ways (unless you’re partied up) and the XP you’ve earned goes into a pseudobase of your own. This base is depicted in the form of a cluttered and overwhelming series of menus, perpetually flashing with exclams to notify you of new bits, new bobs, new schematics to peruse, new resources to inspect, new survivors to place into slots (these grant imperceptible static bonuses), new quests, new research points, new garbage, fresh new stinking garbage, get your hot new garbage now (exclam exclam exclam).

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A cluttered user interface is one thing. But this is an interface that does everything it can to highlight the grubby free-to-play parts of the “game” over the actual playing of the game itself. It feels like somebody went to work at Epic with an F2P bucket list and was determined to shove every single bullet point into this single game, no matter how crowded and overwhelming the resulting experiment turned out.

Let’s look at some of the things we can find:

  • Research points accumulate over time (even while offline) but have limited storage space, so you have to keep coming back to “bank them”
  • Three different types of XP (“hero”, “survivor”, and “schematic”) which are used separately to upgrade characters, non-playable “helper” characters and weapons/traps
  • Boosters, ie, those little boyos wot plug into your character and boost the amount of XP you earn for a limited time only (some of these also boost your team mates!)
  • Daily rewards for returning every day
  • Item recycling
  • Multiple currencies (“V-bucks” and “Founder’s credits”) with the obligatory confusing and wilfully obscure exchange rate
  • Resource gathering over time, a la every Facebook game from 2006
  • Daily quests
  • Expiring quests with big orange countdowns
  • A “collection book” with its own rewards for pumping items and resources into

These are just the most clearly displayed features. It is a monetiser’s kombucha, the fizzy fermentation of umpteen sleazy ideas from the past 10 years made possible with what I can only guess is some sort of horrible F2P scobie that lives in Epic’s pantry cupboard. And I haven’t even mentioned the rando-drop loot crates yet.

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In Fortnite, there are loot crates inside the loot crates. I am not making this up. When you complete a level you get awarded a certain tier of loot crate, depending on how well you and the team scored. Inside these might be a loot pinata (no really, it’s a crate that’s themed as a funny talking llama with colourful paper frills). In the menus, you take a hammer or axe or sword or various other melee weapon to these unwilling treasure troves to unveil their insides – XP injections, survivor plug-ins, weapon schematics, and so on.

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But sometimes… sometimes the llamas turn silver when you hit them, meaning they have rarer goodies inside.

And – oh my god – sometimes, those silver llamas, when you hit them… they turn gold.

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We don’t talk about the free-to-play trashtrappings very much any more in the games press, because there is often the understanding that everyone is bored to death of thinking about it. We tend to acknowledge these practices as unseemly, while tolerating them so long as the underlying game is decent. In that sense, Fortnite’s crime is that the game underneath isn’t worth all this muddy trouble. I should also say that I don’t think Epic’s game is more psychologically exploitative than many other F2P games, per se, I am just overwhelmed by the sheer volume of its skulduggery. And I mean volume in both terms of “holy Moses there is quite a lot of toxic trash here” and “holy Moses this toxic trash is inexplicably loud”.

Nor am I suggesting that the game isn’t “generous” – a term every F2P game longs to have as a descriptor. It hands out upgrades and schematics, literally like candy (at least as far as I’ve played, although it should be noted we were supplied with a founders pack worth £29.99). But this smorgasbord of goodies feels like it’s being offered by the child-catcher. Every little upgrade or perk only furthers the getting of more goodies, they aren’t generally designed to make the zombies-in-a-barrel game itself more fun. It isn’t a well-made pastime that, all right, needs to make a buck if you want to keep playing, a la Dota or Overwatch. It’s a game that shouts everything it can think of to get into your head. As a result you just find yourself actively “shushing” it.

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But that loudness also serves as a warning. I can’t tell whether it’s better or worse to be able to see every slimy F2P tendril rising out of its Eldritch centre, but it’s so obvious that it almost feels brazen. It’s telling that one of the resources you are constantly shifting about in the menus is People – survivors who add bonuses which are absolutely unnoticeable in-game and serve only to grant the satisfaction of assigning a green number over a red one. People-as-resources is something you see in a lot of zombie games. But only in Fortnite have I felt like the game design itself to be centred around such a cynical and muddy philosophy.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the game itself – when you actually do your best to ignore the menu noise – isn’t that interesting. Every level plays out in more-or-less an identical way. You wander off to collect stuff, you smash a few cars, save a few survivors, then all four of you gather around a single point for a game of lacklustre third-person tower defence. Those who want a team-based zombie shooter, or a base-building game, deserve better than to be snatched up by the likes of Fortnite.

Fortnite is free-to-play £34.99 through the Epic Games launcher. These impressions are based on build EA1.4. Don’t.

50 Comments

  1. Yokorose says:

    I hate how every review i see of this keeps saying free to play.. its not free to play as you have to buy it right now.. you can say free to play when it launchs the free to play version at the end of next year . right now its pay to play.

    • JarinArenos says:

      Ah yes, the ever disgusting “Fee 2 Pay” model.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      This review was the first one I read, and I really got me mixed up. I was thinking, “hey, I thought I saw that it was charged!”. Your comment was the only thing that kept me from reinstalling the Epic Launcher and checking it out. (ok, maybe not so much)

    • KDR_11k says:

      Yeah, like most F2P games this one costs money while it’s in early access. The F2P moniker still applies in the sense of being a giant pile of systems designed to extract money from you.

      Really quite Orwellian how “free to play” has become synonymous with expensive and money grubbing…

  2. TormDK says:

    Full disclaimer – I bought the Legendary edition, and then upgraded that into the Ultimate edition in game – Needed dem extra copies for my mates, as I don’t play this type of game solo.

    To be fair, the biggest problem right now seems to be that the reviewers never really get anywhere.

    And I agree with it being too easy – it doesn’t start to get even moderately challenging untill you are well into the second map (So Power Level 20+) – this is a problem that Epic will need to solve over time as the Early Access progresses. Why we can’t select our own difficulty right off the hop is a mystery to me.

    The different system in systems I really have nothing against. You quickly realize that;

    1; It’s very annoying that you can’t recycle Founders items, even the lower quality schematics.

    2; You are “gated” not so much by schematics, but by the need for things like “Drops of Rain” to evolve your schematics.

    The Llamahs I have nothing against – I do wish we had an Overwatch system in place, so that we could “grind” towards the various heroes we wanted in case we don’t get lucky with Llamahs.

    So lots for Epic to do, overall they have a good foundation and prehaps when this title is revisited in half a years time, and the reviewer can show some screenshots of him defending Stonewood Homebase 10 solo, we’ll see how it feels then :)

    • aepervius says:

      I have watched fortnite on twitch for , what, the last 10 days ? And I agree fully with the reviewer. There was nothing else outside of the mentioned gameplay loop and the other gameplay element seemed to reek of planned highly obnoxious worst of F2P.

      In fact looking at the more advanced streamer which are beyond level 19 or 20 (the second city) unless you pay extra attention to the type of enemy, you can barely see a difference with those only at level 10 or below. It was the same all over, gathering stuff 20-30 minutes long, then a 5 minutes defense buildup , then 5 , at most 10 minutes gun play maybe.

      In his current state there is no way whatsoever people will stay for long in the game even as F2P.

      I ahve also high suspicion that they had an ambitious goal, then management/publisher decided it cost too much was too long, ignored the closed beta feedback , and stappled even more stuff F2P over the top, and now are trying to go for a quick grab because they realized fortnite will NOT have a long lasting stay. “Cut their loss”.

    • DeusExMachina says:

      Your comment just screams denial. This usually happens when you realize you threw your money at a greedy fiasco of a game.
      This game’s playerbase will shrink soon enough and the world will move on.

      • Asurmen says:

        I don’t get any sense of denial here.

      • TormDK says:

        Denial? If I was in denial, I wouldn’t go on public record with my spendings would I? (It’s 250 euro for the complete package, in case anyone is wondering)

        What I’m saying is, the premise of the game works, and the systems to me with my subjective opinion also works.

        Yes, there’s some UI clutter I could do without. Even with all the additional inventory Founders gets.
        Yes, the game is too easy at the start. (For me anyhow)
        Yes, the game is mostly built up around a farming/exploration phase, followed by a Tower Defense phase.

        However, this does not distract from the overall experience, and it is something Epic would do well to look further at, as to get more mass appeal.

        There’s a little bit for everyone I’ve found. Me personally don’t really care for survival games, but my mates love them for various reasons (mostly they like building things).

        Fortnite to us allows me to run around killing things as a Soldier, and not worry overly about construction and allows my friends to build their crazy fancy thingamajigs that they need me to help defend. Win-win in our situation.

        Does our situation cover everything under the blue moon? Of course not, will most people want to spend the amounts I did? Likely not, thats awhole nother discussion though.

        Overall, I think Fortnite right now would get 70’ish in score. It needs to work on the overall difficulty sooner, and there are some UI elements etc. that needs work as well.

        The base foundation though and premises for the game being a loot grinder, works. At least for me.

        So if they add in an Overwatch system so that the players could be given more choice in how they shape their playing style, it would go along way for a F2P release next year.

        • Metalfish says:

          “Denial? If I was in denial, I wouldn’t go on public record with my spendings would I? (It’s 250 euro for the complete package, in case anyone is wondering)”

          Whatever the merits of the rest of your posts, that is /exactly/ the sort of thing someone in denial would say.

          • jythanatos says:

            Or maybe money is not a large concern for some people.

          • Metalfish says:

            Yeah, I don’t disagree. I’m just pointing out that “It’s not bad: I’ve spent loads of money on it” can be read as rather defensive rather than a justification.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    It’s kind of a pity to see it being panned. Though I’ve never even heard of it.

    There’s plainly plenty of content, a bunch of people probably put a bunch of time into making all this stuff.

    It’s just unfortunate it’s stuck inside a crap game with what sounds like really obnoxious monetization, on top of a non-free title to start with.

    Too bad.

    • ColonelFailure says:

      The monetisation isn’t, from what I’ve experienced so far, too egregious but there are just so many retention/progression systems at play that it feels overwhelming.

      The game is fun to play but the difficulty in the early stage is way too low (and I’m hardly the most competent of players). There’s precious little threat in the first few hours of the game but when it does ramp up it becomes much more fun.

      The problem with loot is that it dangles epic/legendary loot at you quickly and that persuades you that you “need” it, so don’t invest in lower level kit – despite it being perfectly fine for the early stages of the game. That and the sheer number of collectibles that modify your performance (supposedly) is overwhelming at the start of the game.

      If you’d like a quick taste of what the progression system looks like, the first 90 seconds of this video should give you a good idea. (Yes, I’m linking to my own video, but as ever I only do so when it’s pertinent – modfolk, please feel free to remove if you wish.)

      There is an excellent game in here waiting to escape. I don’t mind the free to play gubbins, I honestly don’t, but grinding vs cash payment as a mechanic isn’t going to hold me. I’d be quite happy to play multiple missions in my base, forever upgrading it against oncoming waves of beasties, but running out of kit to make ammo or replacement weapons is a total headache.

      I hope, during this early access period Epic can refine what they have, release its gating shackles, nail the fun and increase the variety a little. The game looks great, sounds great and plays well – it’s just not quite nailed Warframe levels of MUST PLAY AGAIN yet.

  4. Synesthesia says:

    Jesus, that UI looks like something straight out of hell.

  5. poliovaccine says:

    I was dismayed to see some peers of mine actively falling for this thing based on trailers alone, and I feel vindicated in hearing that it’s every bit as shrill and hysterical as those trailers communicated to me. Frankly I already knew it’d be, um, a full(?) day in hell before I’d want a zombie game that looks, plays and sounds like taking someone’s spitbreathing little broodlings to see the latest Pixar.

  6. BooleanBob says:

    “We don’t talk about the free-to-play trashtrappings very much any more in the games press, because there is often the understanding that everyone is bored to death of thinking about it.”

    That’s not a good reason and you should talk about it more.

    • Vilos Cohaagen says:

      I agree with you. P2W/F2P/Freemium shit should get called out, as it was in the article on the new Mordor game

    • SanguineAngel says:

      absolutely agree. I don’t really have the word skills or readership to express my utter disgust and frankly, my dismay at the profligacy of F2P trappings permeating through every game on the digital shelves.

      I am concerned that the conversation generally has turned from “Should developers be trying to monetize gameplay?” to “Of course devs need to/should monetize gameplay. Can it be less intrusive?”

      Whether it’s grindy loot chests or a tout in your RPG party actively selling DLC, I find the inclusion – however it’s handled – of selling in my games to be distasteful, manipulative and hugely off-putting. I do /not/ want to be constantly reminded about the real world and spending my money whilst lost in the escapism of playing a game. I certainly don’t want to feel implied or at least inferred guilt because I am not shelling out constantly on a game that I’ve already bought. And however much people insist that I can ignore these things if I wish or that it doesn’t affect the core game design – it at the very least has a textural effect. and in most cases I’ve experienced, it very much does affect the core design – F2P methodologies have fast become industry standard and affect the concept of game design from the ground up.

      I dunno, I find it all very disheartening to be honest.

      So I would absolutely appreciate it if journalists did not give up and would instead tackle the issue like a dog with a bone. Whether you like it or not, you’re influencers and your silence breeds complacency on the issue. If you are vocal about it then it will remain an issue

      • BooleanBob says:

        Your disgust must be strong indeed if you don’t think as well-written a post as that captures it!

        I agree very much with what you’ve written. A certain portion of the player-base will always be vulnerable to these predatory and cynical practises, so we need the games press more than ever to take the high road and put pressure on publishers not to be so scummy.

        If they’re all too bored to do so then I dread what things will look like in a few years’ time.

    • Heavenfall says:

      They “don’t talk” about it because most trashtrapping games are aimed at whales unlike other F2P games such as LoL, Dota2 and Path of Exile. If games are built aimed at whales, say Allods Online, they tend to attract a significantly smaller but more well-paying player crowd. And this site like all other gaming sites need clicks and thus mostly cover games with a wide reach. So basically they don’t talk about that other way to develop games for whales because it’s inconsistent with the site’s approach to making money.

  7. Frank says:

    “Premature” doesn’t really seem to fit. They’re just gaming the early-access label and have already launched, is what it sounds like.

    • skyturnedred says:

      They’re selling boxed copies that mention nothing about it being early access or in beta. It’s fully released as far as I’m concerned, they’re just going to turn it into a F2P game once the money stops coming in.

      • April March says:

        At least they’re being honest about it. Used to be that devs would swear on the ashes of their mothers that their mid-priced game with microtransactions up the wazoo was never intended to be F2P and would never ever become F2P, six months before it did.

  8. mrfreezepop says:

    This game is bollocks.

  9. voidmind says:

    I sank 30 to 50 hours in Fortnite and I agree with everything you wrote.

    • Orageon says:

      Almost same here… not there yet but coming to it. I kinda got it because friends got it and told me to join in the fun… so I join in, and I play with them a bit but overall the experience is meh.
      I felt overwhelmed at first, by all the systems, menus, GUI elements, etc…
      Then you realize that at the core, it is not so varied at all. I mean it can still be some fun, when playing with creative traps and hero powers synergies. And it gets tougher later on so then you get some fun challenges with friends.
      I’ll get my 30-50 hours as well, and then consider that I got my money’s worth of decent gaming with friends. Next..

  10. ByrdWhyrm says:

    I hope that Epic is actually treating this “early access” period as a beta, and takes the criticisms regarding difficulty and the lack of incentive to cooperate into consideration for future updates. As for the vomitorium of F2P conventions overlaid on the game… I feel like this game is screaming for a Jason Schreier/Kotaku-style write-up of what went wrong over this game’s lengthy development.

    • Veav says:

      They’re not. This is following the alpha (that you had to buy into) that ran for the last few years. The contributors gave a constant stream of feedback about the business model and progression. What we’re seeing now is worse than what was in play then – they’ve managed to tack on a few more subsystems. Do not expect this to improve.

      • RichUncleSkeleton says:

        I question the wisdom of charging money to beta test a game. What kind of dunce would be stupid enough to pay for the privilege of engaging in the most tedious part of the development process? Is that the kind of player you want giving feedback for a game that will eventually have to appeal to people who aren’t total morons? It would be like a bank running a focus group for some new financial service and exclusively recruiting respondents who’ve been taken in by a ponzi scheme.

        • April March says:

          What kind of dunce would be stupid enough to pay for the privilege of engaging in the most tedious part of the development process?

          A surprisingly numerous kind, it would seem.

  11. yogibbear says:

    I’m up to power level 34. Game is awesome and lots of fun. Though yeah the F2P stuff is in your face. But the game is gated by raindrops which you can’t buy your way through and need to play your way through, so it’s not P2W as much as you might think. The worst bit of the F2P model is you need to get lucky with the RNG on getting Epic heroes of the subclass that you want to play. i.e. you will spend a lot of the game not being able to play the subclass you want because your “good” heroes are another subclass…which at least means everyone doesn’t spam the same character. (You’ll have a full roster of every subclass that is rare, but the epic+ characters get extra passive skills.

  12. DragonDai says:

    So, unlike Brenden, I LOVE the core gameplay loop. I LOVE the maps and the running around smashing stuff for resources and the base building and the zombie shooting and all that. I LOVE building an effective zombie funnel and filling it with traps and watching the zombies get mulched while I cackle evilly (and kill the lobbers). I love plopping down a TEDDY or opening up with an LMG or calling in an Air Strike. I love the way the objects shake and shimmy as I smash them apart with my Pathfinder or smash them with a Shoryuken.

    In short, when I’m actually playing the game, I am enjoying the fuck out of it. But holy hell if literally every single part of the game that isn’t directly related to actually playing the “meat” isn’t specifically designed to make enjoying the “meat” as hard as possible.

    Everything is like pulling teeth, every part designed to make you go back and buy more Llamas, make you go grind another dozen/ten dozen hours, etc. It’s a fucking nightmare of everything that is wrong with free to play games all wrapped around the core.

    And that’s a real shame, because even if you don’t like the “meat,” you have to concede that the game is OBVIOUSLY made by people who love making games. The aesthetic is charming, there’s little secrets everywhere, the procedural generation keeps things fresh but the approach to it also keeps things interesting and fun (and not frustratingly random like some procedural games). The game is adorable and charming and really really really pleasant to play…when it lets you actually play…

    In short, this is one of the best examples of how Free to Play ruins everything it touches. I keep hoping I’ll wake up one day and F2P will have died as a model, but it seems like it’s here to stay, and that’s a fucking disaster for the future of gaming. You’re gana see more and more games like this and less and less quality games released without bullshit making them damn near unenjoyable.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I feel it’s a bit like trying to escape the pull of a black hole. If a substantial number of games are pulling in good revenue with this model they can afford to shout louder about how awesome they are than the opposition. To compete and account for rising development and advertising costs, the pay-once games have to creep ever upward in price, find a way to make lots and lots of meaningful DLC (the Paradox approach) or make far less profit, at the risk of one failed product sinking the studio. It feels like we’ve been stuck in this cycle for a while now, with most games costing the same as equivalent products did 20 years ago.

      Should we be paying more for the best games to keep the studios open? Probably. It’s just really hard to do it when you know that if you keep your money in your wallet there will be a Humble Bundle along in a few months and even a discounted Gold version in a couple of years. Years that you can spend playing the game that just released it’s discounted Gold version. Money’s tight enough for most folks that making that step up to paying substantially more for a AAA title is not going to happen when they’re in the same marketplace as titles offering you a day’s gaming for nothing then tempting you to buy dribs and drabs later to enhance that experience after it has your attention.

      • DragonDai says:

        The big issue is that simply saying “The game costs more to make therefore we must charge more” is not a compelling argument for me to pay more.

        The only reason to pay more for a product is if that product increases in value for the end consumer. If things that do NOT increase value for the end consumer cause a product to cost more to make, that sounds like a problem for the company making the product.

        Obviously, this problem is getting passed on to the consumer, but it shouldn’t be. It is only because we allow this sort of thing (allow via shelling out our cash anyway) that this is a problem.

        It’s really what I’ve been saying for a long time now; Gamers are their own worst enemies. Ultimately, a corporation exists to make as much cash as possible. If the consumer allows the corporation to abuse them AND make a profit, well, the only person to blame is the consumer. I’m not sure if there is a fix for this, sadly, but something’s gana give eventually. I just fear it’s gana be REALLY bad for everyone, corporation and consumer alike, when it does.

        • Gothnak says:

          When you can no longer buy second hand console games on the high street there will a lot less pressure to nickel and dime people as everyone will pay the publisher to play the game.

          I’d hope at that point prices drop as companies make more money for the same number of players and can once again aim at the players, and not try and squeeze money out of the 2nd hand purchasers.

          • aepervius says:

            The likelyness of price dropping for that reason is zero. If the market support that price, and for some reason the profit is higher, then the incensitive will be to keep the difference and not give a cent back to consumer. Price drop only occurs if there are pressure.

  13. Mara says:

    I guess I’ll give it a go once/if it hits Steam and then never buy anything and sort of feel bad for being trapped in the skinner box for a week or two before uninstalling it forever.

  14. PiiSmith says:

    So when will it be Free to Play? At the moment it is a paid game, right?

    • DragonDai says:

      A year or so from now. You know, when all they hype is gone and the game is mostly a ghost town…

  15. Gothnak says:

    I was looking forwards to this, and if it is eventually F2P, i’ll give it a go, as i like co-op and i like base building (Gears 3 Horde Mode is favourite). But the actual combat doesn’t sound great fun. I’d rather just play with my wife and a couple of AI and never see another human player, that’s how i like my MP games, without any MP, and then i don’t care about my progression.

  16. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    I stopped paying attention at the first mention of XP. You know how you gained experience in L4D? By playing and getting better at the game. Imagine that, you gain experience by gaining experience.

    I get it, it’s F2P and they need some goddamned trap of tedious bullshit grind to get players to fork out, I’m just so sick of the concept showing up in genres it really doesn’t belong.

  17. vorador says:

    Most of the reviews i’ve read about this game say it’s a decent game bogged down by terrible monetisation. Absolutely every card in the F2P book is played all at once, resulting in a terrible mashup of random drops, consumables, different types of currency and everything designed to suck the money out of you if you want to avoid grinding.

    A shame, since the game itself is not bad.

  18. Premium User Badge

    DrFunfrock says:

    I feel like this review is a little overly negative.

    Not that it doesn’t make a lot of excellent points, but Brendan’s entire argument seems premised on the idea that the core gameplay isn’t fun, which is something I honestly have to disagree with.

    First off, the guns feel pretty damn good, especially for third person, which usually sucks at this kind of stuff. It’s no Destiny, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the lacklustre gunplay of something like Warframe. Revolvers have a satisfying rhythm, shotguns feel meaty and powerful, and in general shooting husks is an engaging gameplay loop.

    Second, the general exploration and harvesting is surprisingly satisfying. You know that little ‘pop’ every time a block breaks in Minecraft? Fortnite nails that. It’s the subtle touches like the way that parts of the world wobble and shake as you hack at them with your pickaxe, or the way resources briefly hover around your character and then schlooooop into you. It’s fun. It’s engaging, and satisfying, and fun.

    Finally, the construction system is, absolutely and without question, the best of its kind. The building pieces snap together in a way that’s completely effortless, and the “Edit Mode” is a stroke of absolute fucking genius. I wish that Wildcard could somehow clone the entire thing over into ARK, because my god would it make that game so much better. There’s plenty of room to realise your Minecraft style fantasies of throwing together elaborate temples, castles, and watchtowers (and a home base that you can slowly build up over time and defend, keeping everything you’ve built between rounds), and at the same time it’s so fluid and effortless that you can fling together buildings in a matter of seconds. If you like building, and games that involve building, Fortnite is going to ruin you, because every other construction system is going to be like hell after this.

    Look, I’m not saying that the criticisms aren’t warranted, but I still think there’s a good game in here, especially when played with a friend or two. Collaborating on building and defending a fortress is really, really fun. If you’re not willing to risk the 40 bucks on early access that’s fair, but I’d definitely suggest that everyone at least give this thing a shot when it goes Free To Play. You might find that you really like it.

    • MisterGee says:

      I’m with DrFunfrock
      The feel of this game is great. All the little systems make the loot worth it (and it all comes cascading in).

      Sure it can take cash for llamas (never thought I’d ever use that phrase), but you don’t need to.

      Everything seems balanced (though it can be hard to decipher) – Every survivor you get will raise your base stats. Collect matching personalities and you may get extra damage etc.

      Your long term plan is schematics, let you build weapons at will, but they can wear out (you can build more) but it means you can find an uber gun in a crate, but only get to use it until it breaks

      This means they can give you cool stuff all day long, but you still play for the schematics to build your favourite.

      The 3 stages also balance and let you set some difficulty – spend ages scavenging, you can make an amazing fort and fight easy. Want a quick game, then build a small fort and fighting is harder.

      but ultimately DrFunfrock nailed it with .. it just feels good, the cratfing, scavenging and the shooting.

      Even the loot is plentyful and useful (you can turn anything into XP to boost your favorites)

      • RubberbandAU says:

        I was concerned by the negativity of this eval but reading around, the lack of decent games to co-op right now, and getting a free founder’s keys got me to check it out regardless.

        I’ve been addicted to this for days now. I’m playing co-op with my wife (cough) but it’s a really great game.

        It’s a combination of elements from many genres: CCG, Tower Defense, MMO, Shooter and they all blend quite nicely.

        The monetization is good, it’s transparent but rewarding. If I buy something, there is always something to do with it. Not what I want? I can collect in my ‘sticker book’ and get rewarded. I can recycle it if I already have it or transform it into something new. To me, this is a really positive hand holding experience which reassures me that my money will always generate a positive return somewhere.

        However, I can see how the macro part of the game would be tedious to some who just want to build and shoot, but the management part is essential at higher difficulties and is pretty damn fun if you like to min/max and strategise.