The Dark Fortnite of the Soul
So Fortnite has gone from a game that no one has heard about, which generated no buzz, which dropped off of 98% of the radars out there until it didn’t, to a game that elicits complex feelings…more so, I think, than any game I’ve played in quite some time.
The game is solid. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, all of which are shot through with a narrative which, however weak it may be, makes the repetition more meaningful than just your typical arena bouts.
I got to play a mission with Ser Mindstrike last night, and the game most certainly excels when you are playing with people, and even more when you’re playing with friends. Being able to take your time and scour your environment for raw materials rather than having to worry about a timed phase is stupidly refreshing since I could totally see most other games enforcing that limitation on you under similar design. The building is seriously simple yet powerful once you start working with subtraction elements. If you’ve built well, then, combat is sometimes both a struggle and satisfying. Often times I’m sad when I manage to wipe out a wave before they reach my well-built fortification and carefully laid traps.
Overall, I’m having a lot of fun with this game that offers both casual phases and sometimes balls-to-the-wall stressful phases in the same round. In truth, I had a dream about the game last night. I don’t remember ever having a dream about any game I’ve played in the history of my time spent playing games.
I learned from the Esteemed Pete of Dragonchasers fame that we can control player invasion, so I set myself to “friends only” and tried to tackle a mission. It did not end well. Looking back after I realized that the difficulty — measured in skulls, of course — was way too high for my level at the time, but I didn’t know how to parse this indicator at first.
The game is still far too vague for its own good, which is something that the devs say they are aware of and will be looking into. The game is technically still in early access. Many games have these “soft launches” which blur the lines between beta, early access, and “they switched the version to 1.0 overnight when no one was paying attention”, but this game almost has a confusing perception filter about it: although I know it’s early access, I can’t understand it in traditional early access terms. Everything about it feels like an official launch, but it’s not.
This label doesn’t save those of us who are working with it now. Last night Mindstrike asked if there was any game plan to storing your XP or recycling items and blueprints. My answer was “not right now”, but in a few months, who knows? At least I know that when the game gets around to explaining all this properly, I’ll be neck-deep in decisions made before the information was formalized, for good or for ill. There will probably be ragrets, and probably some low level anger, assuming I’m still playing when these changes come to pass.
Oh boy. I know I’m going to screw this up, so let me direct you to Pete’s post about Fortnite‘s tryst with Twitch.
I echo Pete’s position almost to tee. I don’t have issues turning on a stream, although no guarantee I’m going to sit around and watch with rapt attention; Fortnite has some seriously boring parts that I can’t imagine make for riveting third party viewing. I am also not opposed to streaming the game myself just to get some free, low-cost in-game crap. Finally, I am an Amazon Prime user, so I get one free “smart enough not to spend his own money on this shit” Twitch subscription that I can move around each month, so I’ll find a really low pop Fortnite streamer, give him or her my sub, and we’ll both make out like bandits. Or maybe I can convince some Fornite friends to create some kind of web-ring-like ecosystem where we all sub to the next one in line until we double back on the initial participant and create a self-sustaining ouroboros of loot.
Notice that nowhere in that paragraph did I indicate that I am excited for what Fortnite is trying to do. My only thought here is how to subvert their intent so I can get the rewards without actively participating. If there was a way to ensure the numbnuts who thought up this marketing masturbation scheme knew that we were reaping rewards without giving a shit about their efforts, that would be so much better.
Why so angry? Pete covered the sentiment: there are bigger fish to fry that affects everyone when streaming isn’t in the equation. Yes, they can work on more than one system at a time, I understand…or they could have maybe had done more up to this point if they hadn’t made a conscious effort to put content behind a “streamwall”. I hope that the devs give this system the same multi-pass consideration that they have promised for their mechanics and UI in an effort to remind people that it is still early access. Forcing people to participate in tasks they really don’t care for in exchange for content is, to me, far worse than pay to win. The money I can recoup; my time spent watching some bearded asshole in a beanie over-emote like a trained seal barking for fish is time I’ll never, ever get back.