In this day and age, a zombie game is a zombie game. Of course some are better than other when it comes to visuals, gameplay, and other elements, but what you find at the very core of most games involving zombies is more or less the same. An eerie landscape filled with a dark color palette that plays host to a vast collection of creepy undead foes who are ready to chase you in hordes and bite your face off. You are one of the few survivors, but you have just enough of something to keep you alive and well—whether that be weapons, immunity, intelligence, or just good old fashioned luck. You spend time exploring the lands, gathering materials and ammunition, creeping around corners and such. The gameplay may vary here and there, but the experience tends to feel very similar overall.
Fortnite, on the other hand, lands outside the mold and turns out to be very different from what you would expect from an Epic Games and People Can Fly collaboration. Instead of being the zombie-filled cousin of Gears of War, Fortnite has carved out its very own identity and it’s a pretty fun one. This sandbox survival game ditches the premise that zombie games should be dark and dreary by utilizing a vibrant art style that is packed with just as much personality as the characters within the game. This also helps the game transform into the perfect outlet for anyone who wants to blast through hordes of zombies but doesn’t actually like the eerie, chilling world of horror games. Nothing about Fortnite is scary or intimidating. From the very beginning it’s clear that this game’s atmosphere is anchored in light-hearted fun and comedic undertones. From your joyful yet somewhat clueless robot companions to the actual designs of different zombies themselves, Fortnite is far more focused on creating a fun multi-faceted gaming experience than it is on living up to any of the expectations you may have once had for a game that has you going toe-to-toe with zombies.
Fortnite offers a lot in terms of the actual layers of gameplay. In addition to blasting zombies, you will need to explore the lands, construct a fort and build up its defenses, hunt for resources, save and recruit survivors, craft new weapons and upgrade your heroes all while you try to uncover the secrets of The Storm that is causing this zombie apocalypse in the first place. So, yeah, there’s a lot to do. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. You can partner up with other players to create a team of four and, hopefully, make the best use out of each of the hero classes in the game.
While there are more than four specific heroes in the game, all of the heroes you unlock will whether be classified as a soldier, ninja, contractor, or outlander. Each class comes with different perks and skill trees and are given different moments to shine within the game. Fortnite gives you plenty of freedom to play the game the way you want and with a character that fits your play style, but your favorite moments in the game are far more likely to come during coordinated team efforts. It’s a genuinely good time that is amplified by the presence of friends. While every mission will include some sort of building component along with the chance to fire at zombies, the gameplay seems to offer just enough variety to keep the experience from becoming a repetitive bore. So if you like building up fancy forts or you have a thing for the spray-and-pray game style, Fortnite’s foundation is enough for you. Once you dive in, however, just prepare for how quickly this highly customizable gaming experience will suck you in.
Fortnite is in early access but will become available for all players on July 25 before becoming free-to-play in 2018 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.