Deep in Alpha testing, little is known about the upcoming project from Epic Games. With some hands-on learning and a bit of digging, we’ve got the scoop on Fortnite and some of what you may not know regarding the most interesting title in 2016.

With refinement, time, and a load of artistic style, Fortnite stands as the strongest synergy of the survival and tower defense genres. Featuring a fun and replay worthy build style with deep customizing options, you’ll lose yourself in Fortnite well before you realize the game isn’t ready for public consumption. Developed by the team at People Can Fly and Epic Games, Fortnite is both visually and mechanically beautiful with the implementation of the Unreal Engine 4 system and is ready to change how you feel about Survival games and Tower Defense. Simply put, it doesn’t leave you bored enough to focus on fighting in PVP scenarios and it isn’t as casual as a tower defense title has ever been before. It’s the perfect implementation of these two elements into a beautiful monster.

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Billed as a co-op sandbox survival game, Fortnite spends the dominant portion of its game play allowing you to live out your survival dreams. Built fortresses, set traps, construct weapons and harvest resources to attain defense goals against hundreds to thousands of opposing enemies. The pure joy of a hack-and-slash combat scene in the early game develops into a true contest of wit as you funnel enemies into whatever maze of death your mind can think up. Use your player’s skills to deal melee, ranged and utility damage as a last-stand effort of defiance against a horde of zombie “husks”.

Fortresses:

Serving as the central focus of Fortnite, Fortresses are a dual-purpose construction site. First and foremost, fortresses can be built anywhere and at any time. As long as you have the supplies, a basic fortress can be put up in seconds and can provide you with the fortification to fight off the Husks of evil. Costing little to start up and building into massive palisades of greatness, fortresses can be as simplistic or complex as you like and as flexible as your task requires. Build up a fortress around your central objective to help fight back the darkness consuming your world and you’ll be rewarded well.

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Fortresses will also serve as a fantastic way of showcasing one of two major progression elements in Fortnite, as you’ll be building them both on the road and back home in your primary fort. As you establish yourself in the first few steps of the game, you’ll be tasked with building a fortress of your own – one which will always remain permanent in the level and is unique to each user. In this fort, you’ll be able to allow or disallow friends’ building rights, upgrade your harvesting capabilities and store away precious materials. This improves with time, as you develop your fortress into the most beautiful structure in the land using wood, bricks and metals as base materials for your ultimate defensive structure. while little harm may come to your home, this fortress is a fantastic way of showcasing your progress in Fortnite and can help build bragging rights among your friends.

Your home fortress separates itself from a mission fortress dramatically as you grow deeper and deeper in the main story arch – which we can’t discuss. Just be sure that while your missions have procedurally generated worlds for you to harvest materials and experience from, your home base is a solid component that won’t change unless you want it to.

Building a Trap:

Many missions in Fortnite task you with the defense of a fortress you construct on the fly. While this may change as the title is currently in Alpha testing, it’s easy to see how Fortnite will steal our hearts with maze-like trapping of monstrous Husk hordes. When setting up on any mission objective you’ll have the option to focus primarily on the objective itself or search through your world for intriguing prizes. As a prize-lover myself, I have spent hours dipping into the darkest caves and destroying rooftops in cities searching for any hidden loot. With this loot, primarily special weapon and traps galore, I can set the finest traps in the land. Thanks to a player-driven mechanic in the Husk horde, you won’t have to deal with much fighting off of enemies while supplying up for a big fight. You choose when the bulk of combat begins and you’d better be ready.

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Traps in Fortnite can be built on the fly and can be placed on any fully constructed surface that it’s made for. With traps developed for walls, ceilings, and floors, it’s quite easy to see how you can hold down your defenses against the opposition. Further than the obvious trapping mechanism shown above, players also have abilities which they can develop and change over time, and place-able turret mechanisms which can be dropped in your fortress.

Customization:

From top to bottom, no feature is stronger in Fortnite than the amazing depth in customization. When building a structure in Fortnite, the game sets itself apart from other survival titles by not requiring you to learn a million recipes. By melding elements from Minecraft with five basic building options, your fortress walls could have a window, a door, be half-height or other options without needed to learn each different option. The development team at People Can Fly are working on something amazing and it will change the way you look at Survival games in 2016 and beyond.

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Where your character is concerned, no visual customization is in place at this time, but there are back-end customization options available. As you push back the darkness around your main fort you’ll be able to recruit new class types to help fortify your world. These class types are part of a larger town mechanic that you’ll be developing to help drive the narrative. Build up your town, add more characters for you to take into battle, and place support characters in your town to help you build faster, better and stronger on the field. In time you’ll be creating a character that is all your own without an overly complicated leveling system or skills tree. This model feels simpler without giving anything away from the classic skills tree, and will help showcase your growth in time.

The Future:

The future of Fortnite is very bright. Standing out in our early Alpha play test as more polished and ready for consumer play, Fortnite is more complete than DayZ, more prepared for general audiences than H1Z1, and easier to understand than ARK. Epic Games is currently working with the idea of PVP battles, as you’ll see below, but the future is up to you. All Alpha testers are tasked with completing some basic feedback at the end of each mission to help develop the ever growing world of Fortnite and while we’d love to divulge every detail, we simply cannot.

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Head over to the official Fortnite website to sign up for the Alpha test today and get your hands on the best dang Survival-gone-Defense game anywhere.