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Review: Fortnite – Save the World

Fortnite is a game that needs no introduction: it has transcended from a mere free-to-play video game into a cultural phenomenon…

In the unlikely case that you haven’t played it, or unlikelier case of not having heard of it, you’d have been exposed to it one way or another; be it seeing the dances kids love to emulate, or the fresh batch of articles about gaming addiction with Fortnite as it’s subject. Either way, it’s a game you know of even if you don’t. With its sixth season underway and its co-op survival mode “Save The World” (StW) due to be released imminently for free, I decided to pay for early access and let you know whether you should be excited about it or not.

At its core, Save the World mode is a base-building survival game, not too dissimilar to the likes of the cult hit State of Decay. A mysterious storm has encompassed the planet, less than 10% of the population have survived the apocalypse, and those who didn’t have turned into zombies. You are tasked with collecting resources in order for you to build a base of operations, and craft weapons for you to defend it with. Along the way, you will encounter survivors that you can utilise in the defence of your base. Everything you acquire can be upgraded using the experience you earn, from your collection of playable heroes to non-player characters, weapons (both ranged and melee) to traps, and even a fairly extensive RPG-like skill tree. Fairly standard survival game fare at this point.

What separates Save the World from State of Decay and similar survival games, however, is what separates Fortnite proper from similar battle royale games such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds: a very colourful, cartoon-style aesthetic that emphasises fun over the more serious nature of the aforementioned titles.

This is pretty much the only thing that Fortnite Battle Royale and Save the World have in common, however – if you are a Battle Royale veteran, do not go into this game mode thinking you will be able to transfer your skills. There is a new button layout to accommodate the new gameplay mechanics that do take a little getting used to, and all the guns you’ve grown used to now handle very differently in Save the World.

It is apparent that Save the World has also taken inspiration from the tower defence genre, as the various zombies’ AI seems to be programmed to simply run at either the player or the base – whichever is closer. This can be exploited as the player can build channels for the zombies to be funnelled into; either right into your pre-prepared trap or into the firing line you and your mates have waiting for them. Whilst StW can be played solo, it is moments like these make it obvious that this game is best played with friends. The lower-level missions at the start of the game can be “Ramboed” – a gung-ho, all-guns-blazing solo approach, but once you’re a few hours in, it is a strategy that saves the day. Do not fear if your friends have grown out of Fortnite – the matchmaking system is still efficient, and even allows players to drop in and out of an ongoing session without any interruption to the hosts’ experience.

Save the World hasn’t perfected the addictive cycle of “harvest resources-upgrade-repeat” that make survival games so enduring – and there is only one reason for this: a lack of content. I must add the disclaimer that Save the World is still in its beta testing phase, and as such is not “complete”, but it only took me about 5 hours of play (if that) before I started coming across missions I’d done before, and I came to realisation that I was only really doing the same 3 missions on repeat, just dressed up differently. I both hope and expect that EPIC GAMES, with their reputation, will continue to develop Save the World and add more content in time.

During the time I’ve spent on the game mode, it has fully crashed and returned me to my home screen no less than 3 times. I attribute this fault to the fact it is not a finished product, and I expect that once it’s beta phase is over and it is released free to the public, these issues will be ironed out.

Overall, Save the World is a fun survival game that is made more fun with companions. There is enough depth to it to keep the survival/strategy purists happy, yet it retains its tongue-in-cheek attitude and accessibility to appeal to a more casual audience. In this sense, it has done very well to not exclude any section of the gamer demographic. Yet, there doesn’t seem enough content within it at the point of writing to justify a £35 price tag. With it due to be released for free by 2019, I can’t recommend you buy it.

Verdict: 7.5/10 – Wait for free release.

By Joshua Harris

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