Epic Games' Fortnite, once described by company founder Tim Sweeney as Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead, has been six years in the making. That's a long time to keep someone excited about a game, but you can't fault Epic for not wanting to rush its latest Unreal Engine 4 project. And based on my first experience with Fortnite, it has the potential to be a solid survival game. Not everything here is about fighting or killing monsters, though, as your success in the Fortnite world will also largely depend on your building and exploring skills.
Throughout the game, your main character is guided by a cute robot (which resembles Fallout 4's Codsworth) that uses its voice to help you find the right weapon for particular tasks, like getting an ax to destroy rocks blocking a doorway. And if you're struggling to find the next move in a mission, the robot also uses its voice to assist you with that. Since the game is so complex, Epic Games says it wanted to make it easier for the player to understand, so it needed to make sure there was a solid tutorial system in place before launch.
When it comes to building forts to protect yourself from the incoming wave of monsters, including some ugly ones that wear baseball uniforms and use pitching balls as a weapon, you'll need resources. That's where exploring comes in. All around the environment, you'll find the items you need to build walls, doors, ceilings, weapons and traps, which you can loot simply by axing down trees if you need wood or hammering down an old car to get steel. If the monsters manage to destroy any of your property, all you have to do is keep looting to build more reinforcements.
Fortnite lets you pick between four types of heroes: soldiers, constructors, outlanders and ninjas, with each one offering a different set of skills. Ninjas, for instance, are great for melee fights (and yes, they throw stars), while constructors are quick and efficient and building traps in the middle of a monster battle. All in all, I had a blast playing Fortnite, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. But just know that you'll have to be really committed to it if you want to have a good experience, particularly because of all the time you'll have to spend exploring, looting and building. The fighting is the easy part.
Epic Games is releasing the game July 25th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows and Mac. On the PC side, Fortnite won't be available on Steam, but rather through Epic's own launcher.