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Epic Games' sandbox survival game has been a long time coming, but it's shaping up to be a deep experience that's worth the wait.

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Epic Games' Fortnite has been in development for a hell of a long time, since 2011 in fact, but at E3 this year in Los Angeles we got to see a fully fleshed-out version of the game, which is understandable given that it's coming to early access next month. Two of us sat down to enter the world, get a quick tutorial on how the mechanics work, and jump right into a game, and all in all we came out surprised and impressed by the depth the game offered.

The tutorial for the game took us through the basic premise of what Fortnite entails. Here you take on the role of a survivor as you try to, well, survive through the hordes of zombies. Here you learn how to shoot, fight, scavenge, craft, and co-ordinate - pretty much all the tools you need to keep you and your allies alive. These are only the foundations though, and these get deeper the more you delve into them.

While the tutorial mission was guided, in the sense that you had a certain path to follow with an accompanying narrative, we were then thrown into a game that was more like a co-op sandbox survival experience, and that's more like the core experience for Fortnite. In each game you're dropped into a map that's randomly generated, and have to defend yourself and your fort from zombies for 14 days (hence the name), but there are other objectives aside from that, which executive producer Zak Phelps filled us in on.

"So you group up with your friends, you drop into a mission, [a] procedurally generated world, and then you explore and you find where the objectives are in the game, and then once you find the core objective, you then build your fort around it, put down some awesome traps," he explained. "You might want to drop one of your outpost defenders to be able to put him in the game to be able to help you defend, make a gun for him, and then you're essentially able to defend, and beat back a horde of monsters that are coming at you."


We hope in the full game, however, that these objectives are explained in a much clearer way. Two Gamereactor players took to the map when we played, and although we stumbled across some of the objectives by chance, we had little idea of how we found them or what we needed to use them for, especially in regards to a mysterious 'launcher' we were told to activate.

In terms of who you'll be killing in Fortnite, the game has "several different varieties of monsters, everything from the basic Husks, which are kind of like the infantry of the game, all the way up to the huge Smashers which will come in and just wreck your fort," Phelps explained. We found that most of the grunts could be dispatched quickly, but once you found the more powerful ones, especially near spawn points, these could end your life within a matter of seconds. It's not just a case of cannon fodder zombies, then, but you actually have to tailor your tactics and not go running in head first, as you only have a limited amount of lives, and teammates will have to revive you if you go down.

These foes can be dispatched with a number of weapons, and the kind souls at Epic Games kitted us out with relatively high-level weapons when we jumped into the demo. These included an automatic shotgun, as well as an assault rifle and a katana, but there's a whole load to choose from depending on your preference, and all of these can be crafted from parts you find in the world. We can only assume you unlock more as you play as well, or at least more parts with which to build them.