|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Epic Games|
|Pub: Epic Games|
|Release: TBA 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Sean Engemann
Several fresh and exciting game announcements came out of this year's SPIKE TV Video Game Awards. Most showcased new entries in an already high profile series, some created incredible buzz (check our preview of The Last of Us), while others received only mild applause. Then there was the oddball of the bunch, a quirky, cartoonish, zombie-infested game called Fortnite.
There are two major reasons that Fortnite is likely to stay on the gaming radar until its release, whenever that may be. First is that it's being developed by Epic Games, a longstanding and respectable studio that has sucked away hundreds of hours of our lives with Unreal, Infinity Blade, and Gears of War, just to name a few. Under the direction of Epic icon Cliff Bleszinski and lead designer Lee Perry, this fresh entry is certainly in capable hands, and we expect nothing less than a perfectly polished product in the end.
The second is that by Bleszinski's and Perry's own admission, there are obvious comparisons between Fortnite and a teensy little game called Minecraft. If you've seen the trailer, you may be instantly struck by the similarities, or you may think them worlds apart.
With nothing more than a minute long clip and a few tweets of information, I've managed to deconstruct Fortnite, to share the first bits of info I've scrounged up.
The game looks to play as a sandbox-style builder and a race against the clock. You'll begin each morning in haste, scouring the urban environments with demolition tools and explosives at the ready. Any structure standing erect is a virtual treasure trove of materials and resources. By leveling the buildings and loading up parts into shopping carts, you'll use those pieces to construct your own fort, always keeping an eye on the clock as you go. Pray that your defenses are adequate by nightfall, because as the moon rises, so do the undead and other impish creatures. It seems their singular objective is to breach your fortifications. When you manage to sleep is still a mystery, but as dawn appears and the ghouls retreat, a new day of demolition, repair, and assembly awaits.
The build-by-day, defend-by-night concept is the strongest homage paid to Minecraft, but unlike the Mojang masterpiece, Fortnite will be dedicated to using your creativity on buildings alone. What is refreshing, though, is that there will be no templates or prefabricated blocks; the integrity of your fortress is completely dependent on your engineering skills.
Of course, there's undoubtedly more to Fortnite than building a bastion and repelling a horde of zombies. A recent tweet by Perry indicates a high percentage chance of things like weapon crafting, underground exploration, boss battles, looting, and multiplayer modes to look forward to.
Where Epic will play doppelganger to Minecraft and where they will blaze their own trail will undoubtedly be revealed in the months to come, but one certain point of originality is in the presentation and atmosphere. With cartoonish visuals, it's a far cry from a world of pixelated blocks, and plays with a bold color palette juxtaposed with some eerie effects. The trailer seems to lack the humor you would expect with such a visual style, and it will be interesting to see if this remains as the emotional stance, or whether the swarms of monsters will take the weekends off so you can kick back, relax, and have a few laughs. Whatever the case, a plot, even in its minimalist form, would certainly add trace of originality to this fort builder.
No price, release window, or even consoles have been disclosed, so we'll have to wait and see on that. It may very well end up being a design of simplicity, which would only require digital distribution. I personally see Fortnite as a prime target for the tablet-based Wii U, with possibilities on resource management and blueprinting using the tablet controller. That's just speculation, of course, but that's the beauty of teaser trailers and only tiny glimpses of information in the early stages of a game's promotional cycle: so much is left to the imagination. Keep your eyes open for more information on Fortnite as we move into the new year.
CCC Contributing Writer