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Fortnite is Necessary

By Tim Eisen on September 28, 2018 | Columns | Comments

Fortnite is Necessary

TLDR 6/10!

(um, its free to play and the cash shop is cosmetic only, and this isn’t even a review piece!)

TLDR; 8/10, would play! (Still not a review piece! Am I the responsible one now?)

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Some of us become writers because we still believe the pen (or keyboard) is mightier than the sword. Sometimes we need to pull out that sword and put a demon down. This is one of those times. This particular demon makes World of Warcraft look like Town of Kittencare by casting is a shadow over the entire gaming industry and this writer isn't going to let it pass! (The ego!) On this day I, an old, uncool, niche gamer shall write about Fortnite.

Like the day your mom friended you on Myspace, my acknowledgment of this demon means that it’s so popular, so mainstream that gamers like me can no longer ignore it. My writing about it effectively makes it so cool, it’s no longer cool. (Got that right.) This column tips the first domino and that makes me sad, because I really enjoy playing Fortnite. Now, let's jump on our balloon bus and talk about the game! 

First person shooters haven't evolved much beyond graphics since...1998? (That isn't fair.) Since Counter-Strike. (Fine) I don't blame developers, it’s what the largest audience wants. We will call them the Applebees audience. (Don't you dare talk smack about the delicious Won-Ton Tacos or those glorious BBQ wings!) They like things that feel familiar and safe with just a pinch of seasoning to make it seem new and exciting (blackened chicken). Anything overly unique or exceptional is too far outside of that zone for mass appeal and big publishers have to re-coup millions if not hundreds of millions upon launch. Consequently, dishes made for retention not progression leave little room for art. At first glance, Fortnite is not one of those dishes. (I hope he wore his flame suit.)

Fortnite feels like the best parts of Nintendo 64 shooters from the past than the FPS's of modern day. (You sir are unhinged! This is no Goldeneye or even TimeSplitters.)  Its light, funny and doesn't take itself seriously. The sense of humor is by far the most exemplary aspect of this game. (It makes you laugh so hard you don't even notice how many V-bucks you just spent or the corporate advertising you just gobbled up!) This allows the developers to push the envelope. Within their universe they have far more creative freedom, and an ability to use it, than their peers. While fans hold other FPS's to the rules and constraints of the theme, Fortnite has carte blanche. The result of this is a FPS that changes more than most. Every few months Fortnite gives its fans new free content and alters the core game both to freshen it up and provide new

Challenges. (And new shinies to buy.) 

Don't think I'm a fanboy or willfully blind or, worse yet, a paid shill. There are plenty of issues. The fort mechanic works more like an inefficient shield than a building. Lag spikes vary. The physics are shallow. It's not lost on me that cosmetics are overpriced, and I believe companies should no longer be allowed to make up their own conveniently odd numbered currency. It concerns me that Fortnite fans are happy to pay $25 a quarter for what amounts to, by MMORPG standards, a small patch of content. It concerns me more that fans aren’t just accepting but embracing in-game advertising. I also want to note that there seems to have been a clear shift from adding breadth to the game to retaining players and churning out cosmetics. (I already said that!)

I see all of that, but then I remember it’s free-to-play. I’ve had to spend zero dollars to enjoy this game. Do I think a few skins and minor game changes are worth $25? No, but I don’t have to pay for them and I still get the core game changes for free. In my book that counts for a lot. (They paid him off with free!) In what is Fortnite's second greatest feat, I can enjoy it on more electronic devices than were housed within a 90's RadioShack. What Warcraft was to gaming machines in 2003 Fortnite is to consoles, PC's, Mac's, tablets and the obsession of every large publisher, smartphones. Fortnite unlocked the door to the golden cellular kingdom in a way that hasn't been done. It effectively put itself into the hands (and pockets) of more players than any other game in history.

At its core it’s one of the most enjoyable free to play games I’ve experienced and, more than that, it proves MMORPGs are everything we all say they are. It proves that we were right, and the industry was wrong. (Go on.) Fortnite features color-coded loot drops, a super speed MMORPG harvesting and crafting loop, open world building and destruction and most importantly, a seamless sandbox world to fight in. The combat is simple FPS mechanics combined with twitch reflexes and nothing that I excel at or enjoy, but I don’t care because I get to open glowing treasure chests and look for rare drops and every time I do I flash back to happier times in the genre I love! (Is he crying?)

Love or hate it I leave you with this. In the legendary movie Hero, the nameless assassin comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The Emperor, whom the hero was supposed to assassinate, is necessary. He would unite the people of China under one banner, strengthening the nation and the people within it. Fortnite’s second greatest feat was for the publisher but its single greatest feat is for the gamer. Fortnite became so powerful that it made giants, entrenched in an endless war, yield! After years of ignored outcry from the fans it forced console companies to bend the knee and give us cross-platform play! Fortnite is the harbinger of a new era in which the liberated consoles have forged an uneasy alliance to the betterment of all of us. For this gaming history will reflect kindly on Fortnite. For this, it was necessary.

Tim Eisen / In my columns I walk the line between fan and critic as I document the development of Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria.

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