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Fortnite and a Royal Battle

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A Fortnight can hide another – and a “royal battle” game too. If the title of Epic Games dizzies the counter (to the point of having convinced the publisher of Gears of War  to abandon his other big online game, Paragon , to focus on that one) with now more than 45 million of registered players, it is not exactly the game available in ” advance access ” since last summer and whose development began in 2011 that mobilizes the crowds, but its derivative mode (and free, as long as one avoid the “shop” tab of his menu) Fortnite Battle Royale, produced much faster and opportunistically.

A hundred players armed with a simple pickaxe are parachuted on an island emptied of its inhabitants. At the end of the game, there will be only one, and all the tactics are valid to survive as long as possible to the hecatomb announced: to look after its armament – guns and ammunition are collected for the most part in the buildings – to go hunting our 99 rivals, hiding while waiting for others to kill each other to emerge at the last moment or all the variants and ways of doing intermediate between the almost kamikaze brute and the hiding place who prefers to meditate on the meaning of life in the back of a bathroom – a perfect place, with its unique door easy to monitor, to let time quietly flow.

Did you say PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds , or more likely PUBG , his little name easier to remember? Indeed: Fortnite Battle Royale is a decal even disguised PC game phenomenon of 2017 having the notable feature of counting more followers than the original which is paying – this probably explains that. As far as Battle Royale is concerned , although to a lesser degree, Save the World, Fortnite is a thrilling experience. It is also a striking symptom of the current mutations of the video game.


Royal Battle

Under the name Save the World lies what was originally the real Fortnite , a rather improbable attempt at hybrid online game that would bring together elements of shooter, RPG, construction game to the Minecraft and even tower defense , this variant of the strategy in which the player must protect a base on which break waves of enemies. Which, here, are zombies sporting, behind their own head and as a hood, what remains of that of the human to whom their body belonged before. A hyper gore image that will not fail to give us nightmares. Except no: even in horror, Fortnite Is outrageously pop and colorful, far from the chilling Realism of PUBG and much more in the spirit of another recent online hit: Overwatch .

With all these influences that we do not know if they come more from a developer’s vision or a list provided by the marketing department of stuff that works to absolutely include in the game, Fortnite might seem wobbly and indigestible. It is a little bit, but it’s game play side, which tries things and looks for itself – it is often the rule of early access – is ultimately less painful than exciting. While the rules are invented almost live, we are in the front row, and that’s pretty good.

Especially since the abundance of “toys” Fortnite (weapons, characters, walls and ceilings to build buildings and traps to slow down the conquest) turns into a child’s play fantasy never become completely big. It is both (or successively) a game of hide-and-seek, an exploratory adventure through the neighborhood and a festival of destructions for laughter (cars, trees, stones or houses go by: there is a pressing need for raw materials ). And, soon, we build a fort. Woah.


New industry

But Fortnite is also something else: a shopping center. In its mode Battle Royale available in free-to-play, so, but also for Save the World which, still paying now, must also become free during the course of the year. “Upgrade from Special to Limited”  : 89.99 €. “10,000 V-bucks + 3500 bonus”: 99,99 €. It is there: the model of Candy Crush , of Clash Royale or, sniff, mobile version of Animal Crossing , Fortnite Its undisguised purpose is to make the most money out of its users. Time is at stake as “service” (rather than as a product bought once and for all) and ” loot boxes ” random content – the same, or almost, that have been so much criticized by Electronic Arts for Star Wars Battlefront II .

Some will say that you do not have to pay, that you can even dodge calls to cash a goal in itself. Certainly, but the game experience is still tainted, dirty. It’s the end of innocence, of game without ulterior motives. We thought we were let loose in an immense wasteland with, as our main ally, our ageless imagination, and we find ourselves flipping through a vulgar catalog of mail-order sales. Getting old. The Blues.

And yet, once on the ground of Fortnite Battle Royale , the pleasure that we take is indisputable. Sometimes what happens is even funny. For example, after entering a house and taking care to close the door so that no one knows that one had found refuge there, one suddenly realizes that someone else has thought about it before – such is taken thought to take.

Fortnite is also much more ironic and light-hearted than PUBG , which is more radical, dark and (potentially) desperate. The games are still a bit different, and in the case of Fortnite Battle Royale , the addition of Save the World’s ability to make walls, ceilings and stairs, really adds a plus – new opportunities to move forward or take shelter, but also a risk of being identified because, for other players, these constructions “human” are very recognizable. Even within the player, the fight is fierce between the joyous impulse and the consciousness of evolving in a cynical system. Welcome to the new video game industry.