Fortnite: Save the World - Everything You Need to Know

You're likely aware of Fortnite: Battle Royale, but you may be less familiar with the original Fortnite mode called Save the World.

This was released into Early Access before Battle Royale and requires a $39.99 purchase to unlock. Whereas Battle Royale is a competitive deathmatch mode, Save the World is a co-op mode with a story that's playable solo or online with friends for PS4, Xbox One, Mac and PC.

If you're an avid Fortnite player who keeps passing this mode by every time you hit the login screen, or are just looking for the next good co-op experience you and your friends can sink some time into, here's what you should know about Fortnite Save the World.

What is Fortnite: Save the World?

Fortnite: Save the World is a co-op game in which you play on a team of up to three other players to fight AI-controlled waves of enemies, known as husks. It's also playable solo with AI allies to help you on your missions, but even those can be turned off for a completely solo experience.

The moment-to-moment experience involves missions in which you defend locations against waves of enemies or venture out and find stranded survivors amid roaming monsters. In defense missions, you'll spend some time preparing and building fortifications as well as scouting for materials to make the items you need. Then, you'll trigger combat and begin protecting your base.

Each map is randomly generated for each mission you undertake, except for the map your home base is located on. You'll return to your home base's map, the location of your Storm Shield, to increase the radius of this shield to take back the world from mysterious creatures that resemble zombies. The story is a light-hearted affair that gives enough justification for you to set out and get to work without involving too-long cutscenes or too much dialogue. If you're looking for an engrossing plot, you'll have to look elsewhere.

How is Save the World different from Battle Royale?

The same structure-building that's present in Battle Royale is front-and-center in this mode, as missions will often require you to build fortifications around certain points before you can make any progress. Mechanically, building works the same way in Save the World, with three different material types to harvest from the environment that are used to build walls, ramps, doorways, windows, ceilings and so on.

Many of the same weapons and building materials seen in Battle Royale are also present in this mode, but you'll find a lot of new items and traps in Save the World. Special weapons, like laser rifles and SMGs that shoot flame rounds, are just the start of things you'll see as you play. New structure pieces include a healing floor plate, a wall-mounted dart launcher and a ceiling-mounted trap that freezes enemies solid.

MORE: Is Fortnite Worth Buying? A Guide to Free and Paid Versions

This is also extended to new items you can find when harvesting objects in the field. Besides the usual wood, stone and metal, you'll also find rare crafting materials that don't always drop from objects, such as different kinds of ore from rocks or twine from trees. These materials let you make some truly exotic items. But to craft any item, you'll first need to find its schematic, usually unlocked as a reward for completing missions.

All of this helps make the experience of Save the World a lot more strategic than Battle Royale. It involves a lot of preparation outside of combat, whereas Battle Royale's building mechanics are all done on the fly during combat and involve only the three basic resource materials.

How does Save the World's progression work?

Battle Royale has its own progression system that lets you unlock fun cosmetic items, but Save the World has even more things to unlock, and most of them have a real impact on gameplay.

As part of the strategic component of this mode, you'll be able to create a team of defenders, builders and specialists that can either add passive stat boosts to your team or  be called upon to assist directly in a mission if you have fewer than four human players present. You gain access to these support characters as you complete the story missions and participate in limited-time event missions.

There are also two ability trees to progress through, a Skill Tree and a Research Tree, both of which unlock passive stat bonuses as well as access to more of the gameplay mechanics. At first, many of these options are locked up until you make enough progress in the game. It can be a little intimidating to browse through all the systems, but you won't need to engage with it all at once. However, once you do get comfortable with the game there becomes quite a lot to keep track of and always something to work toward.

After every mission you'll get different kinds of experience points (XP) and ability points to spend in specific ways that boost either your support characters or the hero characters you play as. You'll also unlock character cards that let you assign support characters to your team or hero cards that let you play as different characters with various combat or support specializations. Likewise, you'll find item schematics that let you build new weapons or traps as well as improved versions of those items when out in the field. There's even a collector's book  that you can fill out with duplicate cards  to unlock even more rewards.

Again, it can be a lot to sift through in the beginning— basically, everything can be leveled up with some kind of specific XP currency, and there’s a lot of different stats to ogle— but the game doesn't push you too hard in the beginning, so don't sweat these decisions too much at first.

What are the different classes in Save the World?

As you make your way through the story you'll unlock new heroes from different classes. It won't matter much at first, since all classes can participate in building and combat. But you should consider settling into a class that suits your play style and that works best for the team you're on when playing with others.

Soldiers are the main offensive heroes and these are the character models you'll see represented in Battle Royale. These hero characters, like all classes in Save the World, have access to special skills you can activate to help them perform their roles. Soldiers have an array of offensive abilities, like a shockwave that  is designed for dealing the most damage to a large number of enemies.

Constructors are designed for building the best fortifications and have abilities that let them make powerful traps and more durable structures. They also have defensive skills that help control large crowds of enemies.

Ninjas are fast and agile combatants that work best up close with melee weapons that are  unique to Save the World, and can deal a lot of damage all at once to powerful enemies.

Outlanders are scouts that gain bonuses for finding loot from treasure chests or  harvesting tool objects in the field. These guys will make sure your team has the resources to build the best weapons and traps, and keep you fully stocked on ammo, too.

Each of these four primary classes  fall into 14 specialized subclasses, for a total of 56  character types to choose from that all have their own combat abilities. It's plenty to chew on.

When will Fortnite: Save the World be Free?

Fortnite: Save the World is available as a $39.99 Early Access purchase for PS4, Xbox One and PC. However, the game is scheduled to become free to play once Fortnite leaves Early Access later this year. So if you're still on the fence about whether Save the World is for you, you can always wait for the free version.

Andrew Melcon is a freelance writer who specializes in covering games and gaming hardware. He's tackled everything from PC game controllers to Pokémon and PUBG and his work has appeared on sites including Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, Laptop Mag, and more.