Fortnite’s experimental storytelling continues with a transient, thrilling single-player event
I wakened at 3AM this morning so I might assist a glowing butterfly save all of actuality. At the least I suppose that’s what occurred throughout the newest mind-bending Fortnite event, which kicked off the sport’s new season and served as a showcase for its narrative ambitions.
Epic’s battle royale has turn out to be outlined partially by its huge in-game occasions. There was the unique rocket launch in 2018, the sprawling mech vs. kaiju battle, and a black gap that erased the unique Fortnite island and took the sport down for a number of days. Final season ended with Marvel villain Galactus preventing thousands and thousands of gamers, creating a rift that precipitated a number of realities to converge. These occasions have been thrilling partially as a result of they have been shared, one thing that Fortnite gamers might expertise collectively. However the newest was totally different: an try to squeeze a extra conventional single-player narrative into one of many world’s largest multiplayer video games.
[This story contains light spoilers for Fortnite’s latest story event.]
It began out, as most video video games do, with a cutscene. Gamers watched as Agent Jones, who’s steadily turning into the sport’s fundamental character, made his means by a raging battle in an try to succeed in a big, glowing orb on the heart of the island. After getting previous terminators and xenomorphs, he’s lastly greeted by a mysterious character named The Basis, who agrees to assist him. That’s the place you got here in.
As soon as the sport resumed, it wasn’t the common battle royale. As a substitute, it was a single-player expertise the place you had to assist Jones — who, at one level, is remodeled into a glowing butterfly — shut dimensional rifts which can be opening up throughout the island. Gameplay-wise, the sequence was comparatively easy. You adopted the directions of butterfly Jones whereas utilizing a high-tech gun to shut dimensional rifts as when you have been squeezing a Zip-Loc bag shut.
Waves of vitality pulsed out, altering actuality itself; at varied factors, my character was remodeled into a strolling rooster and, later, Lara Croft. You couldn’t die or fail, however there was nonetheless a sense of urgency. Battles flicked out and in of existence round you, blockbuster motion film music blared within the background, Jones yelled issues like “actuality is breaking down,” and the entire thing ended with a unusual, mysterious spire rising out of the earth.
Regardless of its single-player nature, the season 6 event constructed off of narrative methods Epic has been refining for years now. There’s the environmental storytelling side, for starters. Within the days main as much as season 6, Fortnite gamers might see big ribbons of vitality unfold throughout the island, pulsating as if one thing was about to occur. In the meantime, that big orb has been an impossible-to-miss presence the complete season. And now that the event is over, the spire is the island’s new point of interest, with a utterly modified panorama throughout it. The event additionally made small however notable references to Fortnite’s previous; longtime gamers will acknowledge that butterfly from the 2018 event by which a big dice exploded, for example.
It was additionally heavy on the thriller. I’d be hard-pressed to provide you a full rundown of Fortnite lore, or clarify precisely what the “zero level” is, however that doesn’t make searching down scraps of information any much less fascinating. And like its predecessors, the season 6 kickoff was additionally simply a nice spectacle. It was quick, thrilling, and stuffed with some unbelievable eye sweet, like when the orb blossomed into a gorgeous flower made of sunshine.
There’s a cynical tackle all of this. The thought of a number of realities converging additionally occurs to be preferrred for a developer that makes cash by promoting licensed skins, which have been virtually overwhelming in quantity throughout season 5. Whereas this season’s battle move options brand-new characters tied on to the brand new storyline, like an murderer obsessed with the spire, there are additionally skins from Tomb Raider and Teen Titans and an upcoming digital rendition of soccer star Neymar.
Nevertheless it’s additionally clear that storytelling is turning into an more and more essential a part of the Fortnite expertise, and Epic has proven that it’s not afraid to attempt new issues. Previously, instruments like audio logs and chatty non-playable characters have been crammed into the frantic battle royale motion. Now we’ve a single-player event. It doesn’t at all times work easily, however this experimental strategy reveals no indicators of letting up. And as at the moment’s explosive sequence reveals, it’s additionally making the sport extra attention-grabbing as a consequence.
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