We are saddened to report that somehow Fortnite is still very good

Fortnite!  There is now a roller coaster.

Fortnite! There is now a roller coaster.
Image: epic games

Every Friday, AV club staffers start our weekly open thread discussing game plans and recent gaming glory, but the real action, of course, is in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What are you playing this weekend?


The frustrating of Fortnite– a video game that actively works to devour as much of human culture as it can get its brightly colored tentacles, where all aspects of our shared existence are just as much grist to its endless content mill so it can feed it back to us (and our kids) in the most simplistic of digitized forms – is that it’s actually really good.

This thought occurred to me recently, as a round I was playing ended abruptly when my only surviving enemy – dressed as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, of course – destroyed the garage I was hiding in with a Dragon Ball Z Kamehameha, and then shot me in the head. “This is a good fucking video game,” I thought to myself as Tom Holland danced on my corpse. “It’s so cool that this happened.”

Reader, I wasn’t sarcastic.

It’s easy to make jokes Fortniteof course: for his Weezer integration. be first attempts at political self-seriousness. be first bizarre position as canonical Star Wars plot delivery mechanism. Because of the complete domination of game culture, especially through the codification of so many elements of the free-to-play ecosystem. For his obsessive, shrieking memeishness. For all that banana shit. Etc!

And yet, for all that: Fortnite is actually very good!

I take no pleasure in revealing this; it’s the game writer’s equivalent of praising the McDonald’s cheeseburger as a model of cheap taste and efficiency. But it is unfortunately true.

And it’s true for a few reasons, the first and most important is that the game that originally ripped it off many years ago…PlayerUnknown’s Battlegroundsthe patriarch of the battle royale genre– was just such a good idea. Throwing 100 players on a smaller island and ordering them to kill each other isn’t just an apt metaphor for about a thousand different real-world nightmares, but it’s still just an incredible hook, a mix of high highs and humiliating lows that can make the hands shake in anticipation as that next sweet Victory Royale draws closer, even now. (Or: Spider-Man laser murder, see above.) Hell, Fortnite has lately even made its ties to the base design even more apparent by offering a mode that removes the entire fort building section, which has always been a barrier for those of us intimidated by kids capable of whipping up impenetrable plywood palaces within 10 seconds or less. It doesn’t hurt that Epic, the studio that makes Fortnite, has been in the shooting world longer than most of their competitors have even been in business, period; the weapons in Fortnite may be crazy, but the shooting is incredibly solid, the weapon design shockingly clever.

Take, for example, Kamehameha, who, after a recent DBZ Event: It’s a really fascinating representation of the game’s philosophy towards new weapons. Sure, it’s a meme item that brings all the excitement of firing Goku’s big blue beam, but it’s also a fascinating risk reward, allowing players to deal a massive amount of damage to enemies or destroy their cover, at least. expense of making the user float in the air while yelling and a very bright “Shoot me before I laser you!” light. the genius of Fortnite is in making an item that is clearly a blatant one Dragon Ball Z money grab and a tactically fascinating addition to the game’s combat mechanics – both trash and treasure at once.

Which brings us to the more fundamental reason that Fortnite is actually very good, an explanation that unfortunately will contain the word “palimpsest.” ‘Cause like those old writing slates, Fortnite is messy. It’s weird in a way none of its competitors have ever understood, and that weirdness keeps it fascinating even when more technically impressive rivals crop up. The amazing of Fortnite is that it still contains traces of every shameless decision or substantive link it has offered in the five years it has been in business. That, of course, is present in the player’s skins –So many player skins, from so many licensed properties, but also in the basic mechanics of the game. All the things that make the game such a wildly weird product right now – it’s, as far as I know, the only battle royale shooter where you can fish for food before hitting a Indiana Jones puzzling or doing a full car race track to pick up some nice new weapons – have been added piecemeal over the years and have been left just about… intact, by multiple wipes of its scattershot’ lore ‘. The result is a kind of chaos that could have been extremely difficult for the development team to make in one go, but which has become a natural result of years of constant updates, a design evolution that transcends any single design document. Or, to put it another way: Even as Fortnite has strived to devour all of modern pop culture, but has also moved to devour itself. And that’s pretty beautiful, in a horrible way.

Also: It’s a video game where you can kill Darth Vader by hitting him with a grenade that makes him dance, then use his lightsaber to kill Goku. So that’s nice too.

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