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Fortnite hands-on: Epic's new PC-exclusive shooter is like twelve games in one

Hayden Dingman | June 30, 2015
Fortnite is one of the simplest games I've ever played. Fortnite is one of the most complex games I've ever played. This is the duality running through my head as I try to wrangle my thoughts on Epic's upcoming Minecraft-alike/survival game/shooter/whatever this thing is.

Seriously, Fortnite's crafting system is massive--and it's part of what makes the game impenetrable to demo. You craft melee weapons, you craft guns, you even craft bullets for your guns. What kind of ammo do you need? And how much? These are questions you'll need to be able to answer in Fortnite, and in my demo I absolutely did not know the answers.

But that's not fair! Because if you were a new player, you wouldn't have all these options. You'd have built up your library of schematics over time, making mental notes of old favorites and stockpiling bullets in quiet moments. Here I was, jumping into the late game--essentially trying to build IKEA furniture by smacking the pieces together and hoping something fit instead of following the instructions.

In my demo, that meant the well-meaning developer sitting next to me said I could create a new weapon if I didn't like what they'd kitted me with. I opened the crafting menu, saw a million different schematics, went "Nope," and shut it again.

After all, there were other things to focus on. We'd found the gate, so now we needed to build a fort around it for protection--and I, as the Constructor, was integral to this process. Everyone else could build, but I could build.

This was actually where I had the most fun. Fortnite's base-building is super-easy, but hides quite a bit of depth. You can just place walls/floors/stairs in a variety of materials (I had wood, brick, and metal). However, each of those can then be broken down into nine separate pieces. For instance, think of a wall as a three-by-three grid. If you keep all nine grid-pieces filled in, it forms a full wall. Take out the central square in the grid and you've now got a wall with a window. Leave only the bottom three squares and you've got a short wall. Bottom six? Medium-height wall.

Stairs and floors work the same way, so you could (for instance) have narrow or wide stairs based on the same schematic. It's easy! And yet still very powerful. I had a lot of fun throwing down walls--and then reconfiguring them later in the battle to have windows (once I knew where enemies were coming from).

Because sooner or later it's time for shooting. Once we'd built our base (a three-story, sprawling monstrosity that probably could've been at least a floor shorter) we activated the gate and thereby brought enemies down on us.

Here's where all the prep-work comes into play. Did you build a smart base? Did you craft enough bullets? Do you even know what the hell you're doing?

 

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