I have spent a few weeks or so playing Fortnite: Save the World on the PS4, and I am enjoying the game quite a bit.  It’s not perfect by any means, but I am still enjoying the game.  I have a full review of Fortnite: Save the World halfway down the page.  I also have my thoughts on Battle Royale as well to kick things off.  

I am in my mid-50’s and I’m still an avid gamer.  I enjoy Trading Card Games, Board Games, and Video Games.  Some of my favorite video games over the last few years have been Borderlands 2, Monster Hunter World, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Witcher 3.  I very much enjoy Action Role Playing Games (RPG’s).  I also enjoyed World of Warcraft (WoW) … and I spent a lot of that WoW time playing PVP (Player Vs. Player) … especially 2v2 Arena Matches.  I was just an average, middle-of-the road PVP’er, but I still enjoyed it.  The rating system assured you were playing with evenly matched players most of the time.  And the rewards were nice.

Over the last few months, the kids in my neighborhood have been talking about a newer PVP / Shooter called: “Fortnite: Battle Royale”.   So, I started looking into the new hot game on the block.  

What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?

Fortnite: Battle Royale is a chaotic Last Man Standing, PVP game from Epic Games, and it’s crazy popular.  Battle Royale was released in September 2017.  Why is it crazy popular?  Because: it’s a fun shooter; it’s on every major gaming platform; and it’s free!

Fortnite: Battle Royale is Free?!!

Battle Royale is completely Free to Play!  You don’t have to spend a single penny on the game if you don’t want to.  And that’s why there over over 100 millions players worldwide. And last I heard, Epic Games was raking in in over $300 million per month from Battle Royale!

So, how does Epic generate any money from Battle Royale?  From selling “V-Bucks“!  V-Bucks are an in-game currency that players use to buy cosmetic upgrades for their characters, and for Battle Passes.  A Battle Pass costs players $10/month, and allows the players to earn cool, in-game rewards while playing.  Spending money doesn’t give anyone a competitive advantage at all, it just makes a player’s character look a whole lot cooler! 

How Do You Play Fortnite: Battle Royale?

Fortnite Battle Bus

The game starts out with 100 players.  Players are completely weaponless, except for a glider and a pickaxe. The players all jump out of a Flying Battle Bus, and glide down to an abandoned island.   Upon landing on the island, it’s Every Man For Himself!  Players start searching through abandoned buildings for weapons.  They also use their pickaxe to harvest building/crafting materials.  Players start eliminating each other with hand to hand combat, or with ranged weapons. 

During the game, a freak-killer storm keeps closing in on the players. It’s as-if you are fighting in the eye of a hurricane, but that eye keeps closing in on you like a python’s squeeze.  So you cannot just hunker down in an abandoned house hiding for too long.  You have to gradually work your way towards the center, all along taking out other players, while constantly looking over your shoulder.  

The weirdest part to me is the building of structures while playing.  You use your pickaxe to obtain wood, brick and steel from trees, houses, cars, etc.  You then use those materials to build forts with walls, ramps, floors, and roofs.  These buildings can protect players from gunfire, but also players move around the map.  You can build ramps to take yourself high above the fray and snipe down on other players. 

Battle Royale

And good players can do this blisteringly fast. Ever seen kids solve a Rubik’s Cube in mere seconds?  Players in Fortnite are essentially doing the same thing: Building 40 foot high defense towers in mere seconds, while getting shot at and returning gunfire all at the same.  It’s craziness. 

Here’s a video to show you an example how crazy good some players are:

Dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun!”

So, I installed the free version of Battle Royale on my PS4. And, how did my Battle Royale games go? 

Dead! Dead! Dead! Oh wait … yep, I’m dead.

Nope, dying all the time is not fun.  I like gaming, but my skill level is not on par with other players in shooters. I tried Blizzard’s “Overwatch” for a few months and had the same problem: Dying all the time.  It makes me think of the “Authority Song” by John Mellencamp all too often:

♫ “Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying,
And dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun!”♪

I’m too slow at my age to keep up with the young whippersnappers.  I’ve realized my hand-eye coordination speed in PVP Shooters sucks nowadays.  I’m just not good at it. Maybe if there was a 50 and over division – like the Senior Golf Tour on the PGA – I’d have a slight chance to live longer.  But I doubt that’s happening anytime soon in Fortnite.  

So, my Battle Royale gaming sessions came to a pretty abrupt ending to be honest.  

Fortnite: Save the World Comes to Light!

My aspirations of becoming a Fortnite Gamer were literally shot down … until I attended a wedding in early July 2018.  I was engaging in small talk with my buddy’s college son.  I was asking him what games he was playing, and he said he spent most his time playing Fortnite: Battle Royale.  He’s a very good Fortnite player, and wins his fair share of matches.  I  told him I completely sucked at Battle Royale, and he said I might enjoy the PVE (Player Vs. Environment) version of Fortnite – “Fortnite – Save the World“.  In Fortnite: Save the World, you don’t fight other players in real time, you fight hordes of PVE zombies.

Now, I had heard of Fortnite Save the World, but I didn’t really look into it much.  Why not? Mostly because it currently is not free, and I knew someday it would to be free just like Battle Royale.  At least that’s the story I kept hearing.  Who wants to spend money on a game that will eventually be free?

Save the World is Not Free – At least not just yet

Llama Loot Pinata

Unlike the Free version of Battle Royale, Save the World is not Free.  Fortnite: Save the World was actually released before Battle Royale in July 2017.  Fortnite: Save the World is available for $39.99 as an “Early Access” Purchase for PS4, Xbox One and PC.  The game is scheduled to become free-to-play once Fortnite leaves Early Access later this year.

If you opt-in to the “Early Access”, In addition to gaining access to the game early, you also get some in-game Loot Piñatas as a reward for signing up early.   The Loot Pinatas are then busted open, giving you additional weapons, weapon schematics, heroes, and other bonus items that you can use in-game to make your Hero a little more powerful than your Hero otherwise would be.  

During the last two weeks of July 2018, Epic offered Fortnite: “Save the World Early Access” at 1/2 Price. It was during this 50% off sale, that I decided to bite the bullet – as I was looking for a new game to play.  

Fortnite: Save the World

What is “Fortnite – Save the World”?

Fortnite: Save the World is a PVE RPG (Role Playing Game) game with four players cooperating together to complete various missions.  The setting is that a fluke storm appears on Earth, causing 98% of the population to disappear.  Survivors of the storm are being attacked by zombie creatures called “Husks”. 

From Left to Right: Outlanders, Soldiers, Ninjas and Constructers
From Left to Right: Outlanders, Soldiers, Ninjas and Constructers

You take on the role of a specific hero to start the your campaign.  Your hero can be one of the following:

  • Soldier – Good at ranged combat – Plays like Halo Soldier
  • Constructer – Good at building and defending structures
  • Ninja – Good at melee combat and fast movement speed
  • Outlander – Good at resource collection and finding treasure

You start the game with a basic pickaxe and you farm building materials just like you do in Fortnite: Battle Royale. You build forts the same way you do in Battle Royale.  You shoot guns the same way.  You use melee weapons the same way.  The main difference is that you are working together with other live players to take down plagues of zombies and zombie bosses during missions. 

Fortnite Husks (Zombies)

Players combine forces to do various missions like:

  • Rescuing Survivors
  • Building Radar Grids
  • Launching Recon Balloons
  • Building Bases
  • Retrieving Data from old Computers
  • Delivering Bombs
  • etc, etc, etc.

Like most other RPG’s, you start off as Level 1 Hero with a crappy weapon.  You level up your character by completing missions. During your missions you can loot all sorts of items, weapons, weapon schematics, trap schematics, and building materials from abandoned houses, gas stations, warehouses, offices buildings and the like.  You’ll open drawers of kitchen cabinets and toolboxes looking around for useful scraps while trying to complete your missions – all the while being attacked by zombies.  It can be tedious and fun all at the same time. 

The game feels like a combination of Minecraft and Borderlands.  You can build elaborate forts to protect resources from Zombies, and then group together to hunt the zombies down before they destroy your buildings and resources. 

Fortnite: Save the World – Soldier

My Thoughts on Fortnite: Save the World?

This game has a lot going for it, and a lot that still needs some work.  I am currently at Level 28 and have been playing for about 3 weeks.  Let me toss out my Pros and Cons.  

Pros:

  • RPG Progression – If you like building up a character from scratch, and slowly upgrading your character into a Beast, then you might like this game.  Your character unlocks more powerful attacks as you level him or her up.  You slowly uncover better weapons, better weapon schematics, and stronger building materials.  
  • Building – If you enjoy the building aspect of games like Minecraft, the building aspect of Save the World might appeal to you.  During the game you have to build up your individual home base – called your Storm Shield.  I’ve seen elaborate fortresses that look like castles.  During the game you can unlock a skateboard/hoverboard for moving around the map.  I’ve seen guys build skateboard parks into their home base.  And building good defensive structures during missions is also a huge key to successful missions. 
  • Coop Questing – Cooperative Questing is similar to dungeon crawling in World of Warcraft.  If you don’t have any friends online, you can PUG (pick-up group) Missions.  The server will put you in a group with equivalently ranked real players to complete the missions with.  Missions are all 4-player as far as I can tell.  This matching system has worked fairly well so far.  
  • Large Hero Lot – When you first start the game, you start off with a Hero Class of your choosing: A Male and a Female Soldier; or A Male and a Female Ninja; or A Male and a Female Constructor; or a A Male and a Female Outlander. But many more characters can be unlocked/obtained during game play.  You will get other playable characters as rewards from doing missions; and from opening Llama Loot Pinatas that you earn as rewards as well.  You also earn “in-game” reward money from doing daily missions.  You can use that in-game money to buy new characters you want to try.  And you can even level up hero rarities if you get a lesser version of a hero you are desperate to use.    
  • Skill Trees – Skill Trees let you fine tune a character towards your playing style.  And this game has a plethora of Skill Trees to open up.  I think there are 8 different Giant Skill Trees in this game.  I have played about a month, and have only completed two of the skill trees for my character.  There’s a long way to go.
  • Weapons Galore – I remember watching an Angry Joe Review on Borderlands 2.  He was talking about how much he liked Borderlands 1, and said: “It basically combines your Two loves as a man: Guns & Loot Whoring.  Just a big treasure hunt for the sexiest weapons.  It was basically Gun Porn.”  That description fits this game perfectly.  I’m guessing there are at 200 different weapons in this game to collect and use.  
  • Quests and Missions Galore – There is a huge quest line for this game.  The Mission Quests tell the storyline of the game.  It’s not the Witcher 3 by any means, but it’s nice to have straight line missions to follow. They help move your character to the next level.
  • Hugeness – This game is huge!  There is so much to do.  There are currently 4 large locations to explore – Stonewood – For Power levels of 1 – 19; Plankerton – Power level of 15 – 46; Canny Valley – Power level of 40 – 70; and Twine Peaks – Power level of 70 – 100.  I’m level 28, so there’s a long way to go.  
  • Collecting – There is a ton of stuff to collect in this game: Heroes, Guns, Gun Schematics, Melee Weapons, Melee Weapon Schematics, Traps, Trap Schematics, Crafting Materials, Survivors, and Defenders.
  • Voice Chat – A Pro and a Con.  Voice Chat can be awesome if you get matched with cool people.
  • Trading of weapons – I’m going to list this as a Pro and a Con.  You can trade weapons with other players.  If you have a nice crafting schematic, and the materials to craft a very strong weapon, you can give that weapon to one of your friends.  This can be really helpful if you have a friend that is just starting off the game, and your friend hasn’t found a good weapon yet.  You can just pass one on them.  All weapons eventually wear out and brake, but it will last long enough for your friend to find another good weapon.  
Some Fortnite Weapons

Cons

  • Trading of Weapons – This is currently the stupidest thing that ruins Fornite: Save the World right now!  Weapon Trading only takes place in-game, during missions.  Younger players are spamming the voice chat during missions with: “Who wants to Trade?”  They don’t seem to care about completing the missions half the time.  They just want to trade guns.  And gun trading takes place by both players simply dropping their weapons on the ground and then grabbing each others weapons.  Kids are scamming each other left and right.  It’s brutal.  Epic needs to make a “Secure Trading Window” where people can trade weapons easier like World of Warcraft’s Trading System, or even the Pokemon Trading System of the 3DS.  There’s no way a company making $300 million dollars per month should have this crappy of a trading system.  It’s just dumb and archaic.  
  • Voice Chat – I have met a lot of cool people over voice chat, but have also met a lot of ignorant kids and teens.  Kids are dropping F-bombs and N-bombs left and right.  In the last month I bet I’ve heard F-Bombs and N-Bombs 500 times.  I’m sure parents have no idea that this is going on.  You also have kids that sing Rap songs the entire mission.  Or kids that literally scream the entire mission.  Or kids that just want to trade guns the entire mission.  Or kids that have their siblings screaming in the background the entire mission.  There should be an easy way to silence these horrible players during missions.  And an easy way to report them.  Sure, I could turn off voice chat, but I shouldn’t have to.  When you get matched with 3 decent players, it’s wonderful.  There should be a Silence Penalty like they have in Warcraft for poor chat system users.  
  • People Leaving Missions – Missions can be difficult to complete.  That’s a good thing, as you don’t want games to be cake-easy.  And missions play fairly well as long as 3 of the 4 players are actually trying to complete the mission.  But people tend to drop from missions too often.  Kids might decide to make a gun trade, and simply leave the current quest for another map to complete their gun trade.  And the missions are really hard if only 1-2 players are left from the original starting 4.  Dropped players don’t get replaced with other new players like they should.  And there should be some kind of penalty for dropping missions. Warcraft has a Dungeon Deserter penalty of 30 minutes.  If you leave a Dungeon Group (essentially a Mission Group), you can’t join another dungeon group for 30 minutes.  This would work wonders in this Save the World.  
  • Scammers – Many players would list this as their top complaint.  And I have no idea why scamming still persists a full year into Beta Development.  I just googled “Fortnite Scammer” and it yielded “672,000 results”.  And over 1/2 million of those are YouTube videos of people scamming other people out of their guns!  Kids are teaching other kids how to steal weapons from other kids.  These are very popular videos with 100’s of millions of views.  You would think Epic Games would do something about this by now.  My advice to new players: Don’t Trade.  
  • Lack of variety in Missions – After a while, you feel like you are doing to the same 5 or 6 missions over and over.  Mission items are in different places, and the zombie monsters start to get stronger as you level up, but it’s essentially the same 5 or 6 missions missions over and over.  
  • Huge Learning Curve – This game is really involved.  And there are really no tutorial missions whatsoever.  If you want to reenact an actual Zombie Apocalypse, and learn how to craft guns and build radar towers with no instructions whatsoever, then this game is for you.  I had to spend too many hours watching YouTube videos to learn details about this game.  It took me way too long how to learn how to make a make a multi-directional staircase with a PS4 controller.  You are sitting there going, how the hell do I make the stairs go up, and come back like inside an office building.  The game doesn’t tell you.  And while you are trying to figure out, some zombie is lobbing fireballs at you from 200 feet away.  Argh! 

Fortnite Armory Page

Is Fortnite: Save the World Too Deep for Casual Gamers? 

As I mentioned before this game has a huge learning curve.  Besides having to learn how to complete missions by shooting, attacking and building; you also have to learn:

  • How to Level Up Your Heroes?
  • How to Level Up Your Survivors? What are they even for?
  • How to Level Up Defenders? And what are they for?
  • How to Assign Skill Points? – and there are two types of Skill Points – Hero Skill Points and Research Points
  • How to Assign Survivors into Squads to make your Hero Stronger
  • How to Assign Defenders
  • What Quests or Missions should you do next?
  • What are Daily Quests?
  • How do I spend V-Bucks?
  • What are Pinatas?  How do you open them?
  • What is the Collection Book For? (I still don’t really know to be honest)
  • What does Transform do?  How and why do I want to use it?

The only way to really answer these questions is to watch fan-made YouTube Videos.  There are over 1.2 million Fortnite: Save the World videos on YouTube.  It seems to me as if there should be some sort of in-game Tutorial Videos, or in-game Missiosn to teach you how to do different things.  Maybe Epic should give you a cheapy loot llama for watching a video on the Collection Book use, and then they hold your hand and force you to do something with the Collection Book, and then reward you with a loot llama for doing it.  I dunno, it’s just not explained well enough in my opinion, and I’ve been gaming for over 40 years.  

Fortnite Constructor Building

Final Thoughts:

For all it’s faults, I do think Fortnite Save the World is a wonderful game.  I enjoy the RPG aspect a lot.  I like the fact that you can change your heroes to another class when you get bored.  I like the fact that you can increase the rarity of weapons and heroes.  And I have a lot of fun when I’m paired with 3 other players that want to actually complete the missions.  

But man, Epic really has to fix Weapon Trading.  It’s crazy how much that ruins this game, especially in the starting off area – Plankerton.  And Epic needs to implement some penalty for players that constantly ruin Voice Chat for other players.  And Epic needs to implement a penalty for players leaving missions early.  Hopefully they’ll tweak the game for you guys before it becomes Free.  But when it does become free, I think you should definitely give the game a try.  I think this game would be really enjoyable if you were playing with group of friends on a regular basis.