Home Technology Fortnite’s maximalism still works in the new cyberpunk season

Fortnite’s maximalism still works in the new cyberpunk season

by Ana Lopez
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After a handful of eclectic recent chapters, Fortnite’s latest takes a theme and goes with it. Chapter Four Season Two of Fortnite went live over the weekendwith the game’s central island (which got a full makeover last season) revamped while going completely futuristic.

The result is a cyberpunk fever dream, with Fortnite’s bucolic rolling hills punctuated by 20-story glowing skateboard rails, neon katakana, and towering holographic samurai, as cyberpunk aesthetics in this particular genre of fantasy future apparently still require a medley of Japanese imagery.

With the exception of a few less fun dud seasons here and there, Fortnite generally brings a lot to the table for casual players, who can either play for free or buy their season battle pass for $9.50. The new season is no different, featuring a new area of ​​hot springs and cherry blossoms (Japan again!), a handful of new weapons with inscrutable names, and some unique perks known as “reality augments” to make gameplay more interesting. So far it’s as much fun as it is chaotic, which of course is Fortnite’s raison d’être (that and selling a bunch of irresistible virtual stuff).

The new season continues the recent theme of expanding mobility across the island, with street bikes replacing last season’s dirt bikes and a wild new take on aerial parkour that fuels dynamic battles high in Mega City, the new Tokyo like futuristic hot drop fighting centerpiece. Epic’s ongoing upgrades to the way to move around in battle royale mode make the game feel more dynamic (i.e. less running from the storm on foot) and serve as a showcase for whatever. Unreal Engine is capable right now, from more fluid in-game movement to increasingly destructible environments and the like.

That Epic managed to keep the game feeling fresh for so long without any sort of thematic identity outside of Fortnite’s polished cartoon look and wacky vibes is pretty remarkable. Other long-running live service games (think Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny 2, World of Warcraft, and even relative newcomers like Genshin Impact and Apex Legends) tend to align more closely with a genre or theme, be it sci-fi, high fantasy or mail. apocalypse lite.

Epic changes the feel of the live service battle royale from chapter to chapter and often even within the shorter three-month seasons between each of the game’s major shakeups. But unlike more traditional games, Fortnite doesn’t have to maintain an ongoing theme, specifically a coherent story or visual identity from season to season. One of Epic’s cleverest twists is that the game’s unifying feature can be summed up as “more is more.”

Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 2

One season might be medieval knights or shirtless bodybuilding catmen, while the next season is about glittery goo for you to rummage around. That model also lends itself well to Epic’s relentless and certainly lucrative smorgasbord of tie-ins featuring major pop culture touchstones, from the Mandalorian and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Indiana Jones and a slew of anime favorites. To get an idea of ​​the breadth of these crossovers, at the time of writing, the Fortnite store was selling an avatar of Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy and a very solid likeness of Michael B. Jordan from the Creed movies far stayed out of the uncanny valley.

Other games have taken a bite out of the live service shooter pie in recent years (Valorant and Apex Legends, to name a few), but Fortnite’s formula still works six years after the battle royale mode debuted. There’s much more stuff in-game these days — virtual concert ads, avatar packs, TV characters, wild boars — but Epic seems to be successfully leveraging that maximalism to keep the game relevant. How could you not tune into Twitch a few seasons ago or get off the battle bus to see Dragon Ball Z’s Goku jump on a cel-shaded cloud and blast Darth Vader into atoms?

Fortnite’s recent focus on quests and in-game shopping is another piece of the puzzle. Each season there is much more to do than just shoot other players. You can grab some friends, jump into the game and roll around the map in a giant hamster ball, completing all the unhinged tasks that land on the game’s weekly to-do list. Doing things like that while unlocking the skins and other virtual varias on the Seasonal Battle Pass will keep you entertained, even if your crew can’t try to save your life.

It’s a good game loop and one that’s fun to pop in and out of every few months as a casual player so things don’t get too stale (or too tense – no stakes Fortnite is usually the most fun, in my experience) . Hardcore players may quibble about weapon balancing and SBMM formulas, but the real appeal of the game is simply bouncing around the map and seeing what happens. It’s usually something funny or silly, usually both.

These days it’s hard to read how many people play Fortnite, especially given the absence of the app store, but the game remains popular enough to stay in Twitch’s most watched rotation along with a handful of other online multiplayer hits similarly powered by regular infusions of new content. The player base may ebb and flow, but Epic is probably counting on the fact that the right character can draw many intermittent players back to a season subscription. And Fortnite’s creative mode is a whole other world in itself, with approx half of Fortnite game time already issued in player-made maps, though Epic’s monetization options not really inspiring at the moment. We’ll be sure to hear more about Fortnite Creative as low-key game design systems continue to unfold over the next few years.

Fortnite still has a place in the esports world, of course, but at its core, the game is a playground for unexpected pop culture crossovers and viral moments. A battle royale that’s inexplicably full of Disney IP should really feel like a cynical cash grab, but it usually ends up being a good time. And speaking of the metaverse (are we still talking about the metaverse?), Epic has laid some serious groundwork here with a technically impressive virtual theme park – complete with gift shops, of course – that still doubles as one of the most fun shooters out there.

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