It's crazy to me how ubiquitous Fortnite is with gaming these days. Like when I was a kid if you said you played video games, you pretty much just meant NES. Or you might have used "Nintendo" as another word for "video games" as a whole. About a decade ago it seemed like Minecraft was the game that every kid played. But for the past few years it's been Fortnite. To the point that the game is pretty much a platform within itself. It doesn't really matter if you play it on console or PC or phone or whatever. You can play the game, or you can go watch a DJ set or whatever. It's weird.
I can also remember when Fortnite (full title, just vanilla FORTNITE) first came out as a stand-alone retail game that nobody paid any attention to. AND THEN I can remember when Fortnite: Battle Royale launched as a free mode of the full game that was there to rival PUBG. Honestly, in my mind, this Battle Royale would do "okay," as PUBG was the hotness, but this game was free. But I didn't really think it'd last. I thought it'd be something people played for a year or so until the next new fad came along. But who even remembers PUBG now? And yet, who can even escape Fortnite? Somewhere along the way vanilla Fortnite was forgotten, and Fortnite Battle Royale dropped its subtitle and became like... the biggest game in the world.
Me? I've never been into it. I tried it ONCE with my friend and his two kids. They were all super into it. So I thought I'd play along. But what happened was I hopped into a game with them, and his kids yelled at me for fifteen minutes. They yelled at me for not knowing which gun to use; for not knowing where to go; for not knowing what to do. It wasn't a great learning experience for me, so I wrote it off.
Another time, I thought I might look into the game again on my own, and I crap you not - I logged in to find that the entirety of Fortnite had been sucked into a black hole. The servers were down and a whole new 2.0 edition of the game was soon to come along. The intrigue passed, and I didn't bother to play it.
Anyway, here I am attempting once again to visit this game and figure out what it is exactly that makes kids love it so much. I think a lot of it has to do with the social aspect, so I'm at a loss there. While kids might enjoy hopping into this game to give them "something to do" while they virtually hang out and chat, that's not anything I'm interested in.
But I don't really know what I'm doing. I have ZERO interest in crafting stuff in this game, so I guess I'm approaching it from the very straight forward last-man-standing kind of thing. This is just going to be The Hunger Games for me.
So with limited time last night, I jumped into a game. I parachuted into an empty building, found a rifle and then set off into the world. I climbed a tall mountain where I found a... chair? I legit just hung out up there alone for a good five minutes or so. I could hear gunfire and I could see the player count go down. I just walked around the mountain top, looking for anyone who might try to come on up.
I was told that only 50 players were left, and weirdly this did actually "feel good." Then the storm circle shrunk, so I headed down the mountain. I found a small shack, and a sniper started firing at me from the east. I knew I couldn't hit him, so I had to hide on the west side of the shack. Then bullets flew at me from the west. I turned to see someone across a small lake firing at me with a rifle. So we danced a bit and fired back and forth. This is not an excuse exactly, well it kind of is, but I was playing the game handheld and I don't find the Joycon analog sticks all that precise. So I went down. I think I'd fare much better with the Pro Controller.
At any rate, I finished at like #38 or something. That's not really good. I mean, that's like a 62%, which is a failing grade. I still don't really "get" this game. Oddly, I find that matches tend to ping-pong between boring and stressful. But I am still curious. I mean, I'm a lifelong gamer, and this is the biggest game on the planet. So I'd like to at least say I gave it a fair shake and could tell you WHY it's not for me. So I'll probably give it another go.
Alright, so I think I now get the allure of this game.
Literally my fourth time ever jumping into a match, I got a victory royale. I can't even tell you how stressed out I was by the end of the game, but it was an awesome feeling to win it. And I mean, I really don't even know what I'm doing a lot of the time. But it turns out that - yes - playing with a Pro Controller makes a big difference for me. And I'm having fun just kind of experimenting. That first win involved me flying around in a helicopter, which I didn't even know was a thing until I stumbled upon it.
And now that I've gotten a bit more comfortable, and played a few more matches, I'm not even feeling stressed out playing this. I'm just having a pretty good time. I've also found that my preferred way of playing is by filling in a squad. Doing this just makes more sense in my brain because of my love for team based competitive games.
And after I switched over to squads, I got two more wins which was awesome. The last win had just six players left at the end. Me and my teammate were camped out around a big rig, which was maybe a bad spot. To our right was a house in the distance. I used the sniper rifle to zoom in and could see two dudes on a roof building something. I sniped one, but the others ran off. Suddenly my teammate was gone. I have no idea who hit him. The storm started closing in, so I kept zooming in with the sniper rifle and could see two players running toward our direction in the distance through the storm. I hit one hard. He went down. His teammate tried to carry him, so I hit him.
Now the storm came in tighter, and I'm pushed into the center, barely hanging on to the edge of a cliff. That's when a bullet zips by my head from below. So I jump down, switch to a machine gun in mid-air, land RIGHT NEXT to the dude - and I can feel it. This moment, we're the last two and this is it. Maybe it was beginner luck, but I managed to hit him before he could hit me. And it felt awesome.
I honestly don't think that I'll be one of those guys that plays Fortnite all the time. But I get it now. I get why people are so into this game. And I can now say that I at least enjoy it. It'll probably be one of those games that I keep installed forever, and play random matches once in a while when I'm not sure what else to play. Good stuff. It only took me like three years or whatever to figure that out.
I hate to say that I'm hooked on Fortnite. But I truly am. It bumped its way up to my #12 most played Switch game, which is pretty impressive. And I've had to remind myself that I'm a grown-up, and don't care about cosmetic things in games, so there's no reason to buy the Darkfire bundle through Best Buy for $30 just to make my character look cool.
But yeah, I can now totally see why this game is such a phenomenon. Each match I play is like its own little mini story I could tell. Each Victory Royale I get is so sweet. Each time I wind up in second place is crushing and rewarding at the same time.
Probably my biggest revelation was switching over to Squad Fill. There's something I really prefer about playing cooperatively. And when you end up with good teammates, it makes such a difference. A squad that sticks together, works together, shares loot, watches each other's backs... it's a recipe for success. Good game, this one. But I didn't need to tell anybody that. It's been a gigantic hit for years. I'm just now figuring out why.
I'm still plugging away at Fortnite on a fairly consistent basis - a sentence I'd never thought I'd type. But it's true.
Currently the Halloween event is going on, and that's been pretty fun, I guess. The premise is good anyway: when you die, you turn into a "shadow" and can still kill dudes, and basically you're part of a gigantic shadow squad. But I will say that I miss the standard Fortnite. The Halloween event is unique, but I'm kind of done with it already and look forward to a return to the normal matches.