After a lengthy gap in between last December's teaser trailer debut
of Fortnite, Epic Games finally released more details
with a panel at the recent San Diego ComicCon. However, despite the attention-grabbing reveal that it would be the studio's first Unreal Engine 4-powered game, and that development would be focused on PC, not a whole lot else of substance was disclosed.
Reports from press attending the panel describe how the presentation was more a demonstration of some of the game's core concepts -- construction, weapon customisation, loot, and UE4's artist-empowering scripting tools -- but the developer kept all the broader details off the table, leaving us to speculation how they are planning on fitting it all together and serve it to players.
Following The Con, Epic are still keeping teasingly tight-lipped, but a couple of new interviews have surfaced on The Verge
and Rock Paper Shotgun
over the weekend, that -- in and around the vague and evasive responses from Epic's Cliff Bleszinski and Tanya Jessen -- do both offer a few new pieces to the puzzle of just what Fortnite will offer PC gamers.
Both interviews, particularly the RPS one, are worth a read, but here’s a few key points that stuck out for us (keeping in mind that this is just what we can gather from their responses, and could be open to misinterpretation):
- Co-operative play is the focus, but solo “lone-wolf” play will also be possible.
- Whether the game will be a once-of purchase, subscription-based, or free-to-play does not seem to have been decided yet, but Jessen’s comment that ‘we want a lot of people playing this game” seems to hint at a free-to-play model.
- Whether the game will be online only, or have an offline mode is uncertain, but Bleszinski’s comment that he is “absolutely salivating to see what the mod community does with this game”, suggests that if all games of Fortnite do require server auth, it's likely it would be more similar to say, Team Fortress 2, than Diablo 3.
- There will be many instanced, persistent game-worlds that can both be creator-protected, but also left online for others to play while the creator is away.
- Each world will be unique, suggesting a degree of procedural terrain and entity generation.
- Loot will be vast, and most of the objects in the environment can be looted to use in fort construction and decoration.
- Despite the glaring similarities to Minecraft, both developers artfully play down direct inspirations from the Swedish indie hit.
- The art direction is stylised, both to offer pleasant colorful environments for a more light-hearted tone, and so the game will scale well across a wider range of PC hardware. Additionally, it also serves as a showcase for how Unreal Engine 4 isn’t all just about the next leaps in graphical realism, but the artist-empowering “Blueprint” scripting tools, that can appeal to smaller-budget licensees.
Fortnite is due to launch some time in 2013, with a beta testing period expected before launch. Interestingly, no publisher has been announced for the project, suggesting that Epic might be self-publishing this one, furthering speculation that it could be free-to-play.