E3 2017: Will Fortnite Be the Game Minecraft Players Graduate To?

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The long-gestating crafting game has evolved, and it’s finally about to release.

The end of the world is at hand in the free-to-play survival game Fortnite, or least it is whenever I want it to be. For now, I’m content to let it wait. I’ve spent the last hour hacking at rocks, trees, and the occasional file cabinet with a pickaxe, because right now I’m more interested in building a building-sized replica of a Minecraft creeper than staving off the apocalypse. It’s not entirely for show; I’ve also reinforced the bottom walls with wall-darts, spike traps, and gizmos on ceilings that zap anything that walks beneath. You see, all I need to do is press a button to make a horde of zombies rush my creeper, and for around five minutes they’ll try to smash down its walls and destroy the storm shield keeping our little compound safe from within.

And that’s the long-awaited Fortnite, which is — well, it’s a little bit of everything. It’s a generally satisfying digital cocktail mixing some do the best elements of Minecraft, survival games a la DayZ, the first-person tower-defense fun of Orcs Must Die 2, and heck, even Epic’s own Horde mode from Gears of War. It kinda feels like it was designed to be the game kids weaned on Minecraft should move on once they want to tackle more sinister menaces than creepers. I like it for that.

Above: Fortnite’s latest trailer (June 2017).

Fortnite is a bit of a relic, even if it now enjoys some polish and tweaks and now has modernities like loot boxes tacked on to the experience we saw years ago.

But that also means it feels trapped in time. Even the zombies feel slightly passé. Announced in 2011 and offered for previews in 2014 and 2015, Fortnite is a bit of a relic, even if it now enjoys some polish and tweaks and now has modernities like loot boxes tacked on to the experience we saw years ago. It won’t even properly be out until some nebulous date in 2018, although you’ll soon be able to slap down $39.99 to play a beta on PC, PlayStation 4, or Mac at the end of July.

Building fortifications, however outlandishly you wish, is the core of Fortnite. Sure, every side activity builds up to the Horde sequences where you blast away zombies with everything from katanas to AR-15s, but those are always quick moments. It’s the big, quick race after the long, arduous training sessions at the gym. The business of resource gathering isn’t even that appealing—just thwack, thwack, thwack again and again—although developer Epic Games wisely injects some variety by sprinkling random events into its procedurally generated maps. Sometimes you’ll just need to find someone calling for help (relying solely on sound cues rather than helpful map markers). Sometimes you’ll need to save some dude who’s on top of his car while a zombie mosh pit paws at his sneakers. But then it’s back to the thwacking, especially since schematics like floor spikes require rare components that don’t always drop from every node. I sometimes found myself thinking Fortnite gets its name because it seems like it takes a fortnight to prepare.

Above: Fortnite in 2015.

The moment of truth means more because the building you’re defending is something everyone had a hand in creating. This is where Fortnite shines.

But if you’re playing Fortnite alone, you’re technically playing it wrong. (It’s possible, though.) Fortnite’s cooperative mode allows it to thrive, and when you’ve brought along a couple of friends or random players for your defensive squad, those moments grubbing for rocks become excellent bonding opportunities. You can chat about defense strategies, what traps or fortifications need to be built next, or you can chat about Ed Sheeran’s tattoos. Whatever. When it comes time to press the button and trigger the zombies, the moment of truth means more because the building you’re defending is something everyone had a hand in creating. This is where Fortnite shines. I especially liked that the business of building felt comfortable regardless of whether I was using a gamepad or mouse and keyboard, and how Fortnite allows for little specifics such as stairs, half-walls or doors I could carve out from by deselecting parts of a grid before construction commenced.

And then, of course, there’s the combat, which plays about as much as you’d expect and with the fluidity you’re expect from a seasoned shooter developer like Epic, but with disappointing enemy animations in which everything from bullets to sword slices seemingly gets shrugged off with a wince at best. It’s fun to smartly lay down roads of traps and watch the zombies shamble into to them.

Above: Fortnite’s debut trailer from 2011.

It’s thus a lot like it was in 2015: a future rooted in the increasingly distant past.

I do adore its silliness. Fortnite could have been much darker, especially with its tale of a purple storm wrapping the earth almost as tightly as chocolate on a bonbon. It’s a lighthearted apocalypse, stuffed with cartoony buildings and characters painted with colors that shine as brightly as those in Sunset Overdrive, even though this storm spits out zombies like a regular squall might spit out rain. It’s a future where baseball must be much more popular than it is now, as I’m constantly charged by zombies in baseball uniforms who toss purple bones at me. It’s a future where rocket-scientists named Lars ascend into the heavens in spray-painted vans fitted with a hot-air balloon. It’s a future that’s distant enough that perky robot assistants comment on our every move, offering quips like, “You’re a talented builder, like Frank Lloyd Wright, or Bob.”

It’s thus a lot like it was in 2015: a future rooted in the increasingly distant past. Then as now, its mishmash of genres sometimes feels a little bloated, especially now that Epic has tossed things like purchasable loot boxes, loot piñatas, collectible cards, assigning NPC defenders, and a sprawling RPG-like skill tree into the already dangerously overwhelming mix. Worse, I got the impression that I couldn’t unlock some of the better traps without purchasing some of the loot boxes. And that may be the most annoying aspect of Fortnite of all—that its most modern feature is also its most egregious. Sorry, Minecraft kids, this is the future we’ve made. At least we haven’t destroyed the planet with a purple zombie cloud. Yet, anyway.

Leif Johnson is a contributing editor to IGN who writes about video games from a remote ranch in South Texas. You can chat him up on Twitter at @leifjohnson.

Top 10 AU/NZ Sales Chart – Tekken 7 Lands On Top

The latest weekly all-platforms charts for Australia and New Zealand have arrived. For the week ended June 4, fighting game Tekken 7 was No. 1 in both countries. It didn’t have much in the way of major competition for the week, but that doesn’t take anything away from the achievement.

Rounding out the top five in Australia were Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Injustice 2, Grand Theft Auto V, and Overwatch. In New Zealand, Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto V, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and Prey rounded out the top five.

You can see a full breakdown of game sales by platform for Australia and New Zealand below.

The data comes from the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) and covers sales for the week ended June 4. Note that digital sales are not factored in.

Australia

  1. Tekken 7
  2. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  3. Injustice 2
  4. Grand Theft Auto V
  5. Overwatch
  6. Horizon: Zero Dawn
  7. Mario Kart 8
  8. Rainbow Six Siege
  9. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  10. Prey

New Zealand

  1. Tekken 7
  2. Fallout 4
  3. Grand Theft Auto V
  4. Ghost Recon: Wildlands
  5. Prey
  6. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  7. Injustice 2
  8. Battlefield 1
  9. FIFA 17
  10. Horizon Zero Dawn
Filed under:
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PlayStation 4
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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Tekken 7
Injustice 2
Grand Theft Auto V
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Mario Kart 8
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Battlefield 1
Prey
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Overwatch
FIFA 17
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    The DC Movie Marvel Studios Watches Before They Make Any of Their Films

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    Kevin Feige and Geoff Johns pay tribute to Richard Donner and Superman.

    Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige and DC Films’ Geoff Johns are supposed to be rivals, but the respective comic book movie producers each started their careers as interns at the production company of filmmaker Richard Donner. Feige and Johns appeared together Wednesday night to salute Donner at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ tribute to the Lethal Weapon and Goonies director.

    Feige and Johns united onstage to share their memories of Donner, with Feige singling out Donner’s 1978 film Superman: The Movie for its excellence and significance to not only his career, but to Marvel Studios as well.

    The DC Movie Marvel Studios Watches Before They Make Any of Their Films

    “Superman: The Movie is still to this day the archetype of the perfect superhero film origin story and we watch it before we make almost any one of our films,” Feige said, “and that’s been the case for the past seventeen years since I left the fold to go work for Marvel.”

    Feige’s first Marvel credit was as an associate producer on 2000’s X-Men, which Donner exec produced and Donner’s wife, Lauren Shuler Donner, produced.

    Johns recalled Donner’s anecdote of hating the first draft of the screenplay for Superman: The Movie and declaring, ” I have to save Superman.” Johns went on to call Superman “the greatest superhero film still, ever.”

    Richard Donner, now 87, has retired from filmmaking, having directed his final film, 16 Blocks, in 2006. In addition to Superman, the Lethal Weapon movies, and The Goonies, Donner’s other directing credits include The Omen, Ladyhawke, Maverick, and Scrooged.

    Tekken 7 Update Out Now, Here's What It Does

    Bandai Namco has released a patch for the PS4 version of Tekken 7, which addresses some issues with the game’s online matchmaking functionality.

    Specifically, the patch improves stability and establishes connections with other online players “more consistently.” Following the update, the game will no longer share a player’s character, title, rank, and wins before a match.

    Additionally, the patch makes some changes to the game’s voice chat, allowing players to toggle it on or off from the Option menu. Voice chat is now set to off by default.

    Bandai Namco says it will make additional improvements to the game “in the coming days.” The developer will release a similar patch for the Xbox One and PC versions “during the week of June 12,” which likewise will address online stability and fix other assorted bugs. You can learn more about the patch on the Tekken website.

    Filed under:
    Tekken 7
    PlayStation 4
    Xbox One
    PC
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    NVC’s E3 2017 Nintendo Direct Predictions and More

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    Eeeeeeee.

    On this very special episode of Nintendo Voice Chat, IGN’s Nintendo-focused talk show and podcast, Peer, Brian, Miranda, and Sam (filling in for Jose) discuss what we expect to see from Nintendo at E3 2017. From the Nintendo Direct on Tuesday to the show floor, we expect to hear a lot more about Super Mario Odyssey this year, but we also expect to see some surprises. To that end, we’ve devised a game — a game you can play along with!

    Listen to the Latest Episode of NVC Right Here

    We answered the following questions. After E3, I’ll award points for each question answered by our panel correctly. You can play along in the comments on IGN, or on YouTube, or by emailing us you predictions at nvc@ign.com. If you get a perfect score of 9 points, we’ll give you a shout out! (It’s unlikely, we know).

    What are 3 new games/sequels/spinoffs we’ve never heard of that will be announced? (3 points)

    How will Zelda Appear, in any way, at the show? (1 point)

    What are 2 major 3rd-party games coming to Nintendo systems this year? (2 points)

    What’s an accessory that will be announced for Switch? (1 point)

    What classic Nintendo series will be getting the mobile treatment next? (1 point)

    What wacky antics will Shigeru Miyamoto pull on the stream? (1 point)

    Bonus points: You will be awarded 1,000,000,000 if Metroid Prime 4 is announced.

    If you’d like to know our predictions, please check out the full show in video form or in audio form above. If you can’t do that, I’ve included the staff’s *actual worksheets* below. Miranda added stickers and has lovely penmanship, while Brian somehow tore his nearly in two and had to retrieve it from the garbage for me, giving us a glimpse into their respective homework habits as children.

    NVC E3 2017 Predictions

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    NVC's E3 2017 Nintendo Direct Predictions and More

    We can’t wait for E3 next week! And we’re not the only ones: Check out the Beyond! crew’s predictions for the Sony press conference here, and Unlocked has their own set of predictions for the Xbox conference here. We’ll be streaming all week: Every press conference, game demos, and much more — here’s the full schedule. And if you are in LA this Saturday you can come hang with us at our public IGN E3 2017 Meet and Greet at the Bellasco Ballroom. Join us.

    NVC's E3 2017 Nintendo Direct Predictions and More

    Please let us know what you think of the show in the comments or email us at the address below. Do you have a great idea or topic for a future episode of Nintendo Voice Chat? Email us: nvc@ign.com.