Fast, cute, and furious. Epic Games’ newest IP is ready to entertain.
Epic Games’ new IP has been a long time coming. And to some, it may not be the game they’ve waited for. For others, it may be their dream come true. But for Epic Games, Fortnite is the game they’ve enjoyed making, and enjoyed making it fun for everyone.
Fortnite is a survival, tower defense game that takes the slow building mechanics of other tower defense games and speeds it up. You won’t be sitting there waiting for your tower to grow, it’s instant and can be done and rebuilt over and over again. Add to that, the cute graphics and interesting single-player only elements and you’ve got yourself a game nothing like Epic’s past. We had a chance to sit down with the Executive Producer Zak Phelps to ask some some intriguing questions for the game.
Is Fortnite a game you’ll be hosting servers for like in Minecraft?
Epic runs all the servers, we host all the servers. From a play standpoint it’s session based. You can go on with a group of friends, you can matchmake, you going into a session. It’s a procedurally generated world. You bring all your inventory with you. You have schematics, you have your weapons that you’ve been able to craft or find in the world. You come into probably between a 15 to 30 minute play session to be able to do one of the missions. We have 10 plus missions right now. Since it’s early access, we’re going to continue to develop. You play through a mission, there’s a set of rewards for doing the mission. Then you go back and you’re able to continue to collect your schematics.
What was the decision behind the stylized cartoon graphics of Fortnite that resemble Plants vs. Zombies?
For us it was about creating a playable Pixar. Initially at the very beginning we had a traditional Epics style – which is a gritty style. When we started thinking about what we wanted to do with the game, we wanted it more stylized. Some place where you feel excited putting a thousand hours of play. As opposed to a world being heavy, it’s much lighter. That allows us to really the nail the survival elements, which is what we’re really trying to go for.
Speaking of survival, is Fortnite a total survival game where you have to eat, sleep and use shelter, or is it more of a tower defense?
It’s not about finding cans of beans. It is about collecting the world, harvesting. It has that element of exploration, to be able to find stuff in the world. That’s a core element. That’s the similarity with Minecraft, but the rest of the core loop is much more like an action-defense game. It’s not a tower defense in the simplest terms, because most of game’s defense has a laid out path for the enemies. We don’t have any of that. The AI does all sorts of very dynamic things. It tries to figure out what the best way to put pressure on you is. It’s very dynamic. What that means is that the player actually has to be in the design and strategy of the forts that they build.
As well as how they defend it is incredibly dynamic. We also have a persistent building area called the Outpost, or your homebase. This is where you get to build your fort exactly the way you want it, keep it for a long period of time, defend it against hordes of monsters. And come up with some specific strategies. We have a persistent building area where you build over time. We also have these missions where you build small forwards, where those will be your teaching moments to practice different strategies.
"You can drop in and build something very complex and very fast. Every time you come in, you are building and defending, so there’s nothing – I’ve seen nothing like what we’re doing in the market today, at all."
This survival, tower defense game is very popular on PC. What makes Fortnite game standout amongst the others?
From our standpoint it is the speed building. You can drop in and build something very complex and very fast. Every time you come in, you are building and defending, so there’s nothing – I’ve seen nothing like what we’re doing in the market today, at all. Every 20 to 30 minutes you’re building a new fort with friends.
Why did you choose to make Fortnite PvE without any PvP?
We very specifically chose to do PvE right now. We know that players want co-op games, where they can go play with their friends. There’s a lot of players out there who aren’t about killing other players .
Are there plans in the future for PvP in Fortnite?
We want some competitive pieces in the game, and that’s planned. But it’s going to be a little further out as things stand up. The core PvE experience is where we’re at.
Can you go into any details on resolution and frame rate on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro?
Resolution and frame rate is all dependent on your PC and what you can run. On PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, it’s going to look really good in 4K. We’re going to allow the resolutions that we can support and frame rate at 30 frames per second. We’ve turned on several key PC pieces on epic settings.
"The schematics, the traps, the heroes, the defenders, the survivalists are not tradable. Anything you build in any game, though, is up for another player to pick up."
What about beta plans for Fortnite?
We’re part of early access. We’re in alpha test right now and and free to play next year in 2018. During early access players can expect a huge number of changes. One thing we are not going to change is your saved progression. Right now during our online test we’ve been iterating very aggressively, to get the progression to where we think it’s fun and great.
What about release on the Nintendo Switch?
That’s a great question. That would be amazing, right? Nothing on that officially.
So right now it’s paid early access, but when it’s finished it will be a free to play product, correct? So at that point the monetization will be about the loot chests, right?
Yeah. So the way monetization works, there’s a single currency for playing the game, as well as purchasing. Every currency goes into several different systems, with the primary one being looping odds. You get to open up a pinata that you get. As we move forward there could be additional ways to acquire heroes weapons that are more directed. At the moment that system is solely focused through the pinata system.
"We call it pay to accelerate. Because there’s a single currency everything in the game that is earn-able. It could take you a long time to earn it, but it’s possible."
Are any items tradable in Fortnite?
No. The schematics, the traps, the heroes, the defenders, the survivalists are not tradable. Anything you build in any game, though, is up for another player to pick up. So you can drop in the game, you can build your most awesome weapon that you love, drop it for another player to pick up and they can play with it. Every weapon in the game has durability, so as they use that weapon it will eventually decay, and it will break. You can ask your friend to get you another one or you can craft.
Can others see this as a pay-to-win game with the way trading is involved?
No. We call it pay to accelerate. Because there’s a single currency everything in the game that is earn-able. It could take you a long time to earn it, but it’s possible. Between that piece along with PvE mode I’ve seen players that are free to play in our game at the same levels as players who paid, or spent a significant amount of money. And they’re both equally good at the game. There’s a tremendous amount of skill in the game and strategy that will allow really great players to excel.
Fortnite has been a long time in the making. How do you deal with all of the pressure and hype fans generate?
Be humble. Listen patiently. Try to provide a directionality of where you’re going. Fans, they love and hate at the same time. The more feedback that we get, both negative and positive, is great. I believe they love what we’re doing.