You can never tell what the future will hold. Except in the case of Fortnite, where it probably holds a shotgun, aimed at your face. Season 9 of the world’s most popular game has arrived, and it has brought the future with it.
Season 8 transformed Fortnite into a pirate haven, while also planting a volcano in the middle of the island. At the end of the season, the volcano erupted and transformed the island again. (As if Fortnite hasn’t blown up enough already — it has 250m registered users now). The result was a futuristic vision of Fortnite, complete with teleporting ‘slipstreams’ that can throw players across the island.
Two areas of the island have been primarily affected. Titled Towers, which hasn’t always been the most popular area for players, was changed into ‘Neo Tilted Towers’, a sci-fi version of the landmark, while Retail Mall was given a big facelift and becomes Mega Mall. Some players will miss the old landmarks, but we think these new additions are pretty cool.
Epic have also made a few interesting changes to weapons. Incredibly, the pump shotgun has been responsible for 26% of kills in Fortnite — an astounding figure when you consider the amount of weapons on offer overall.
So Epic decided to remove the pump shotgun and have instead added a combat shotgun. This shotgun is quite deadly at range and shoots faster than, for example, the tactical shotgun. The swap-out seems like an unusual choice from Epic.
Some of the complaints around these changes stem from ‘turbo-building’ issues, where players chose to build quickly to avoid firefights. The pump shotgun helped mitigate this approach, because it was a one-shot kill, but now that option has been removed, which may ultimately aid turbo builders and make longer, more drawn out games.
Finally, Epic have already had to nerf the slipstreams, due to their speed. With ‘rotations’ (moving from battle area to battle area) an important part of the game, the slipstreams were proving a little too fast and have already been slowed down a little.
There’s no slowing down otherwise, however. Fortnite remains the most culturally significant game since Minecraft and its playerbase is only growing. This year alone, the game is reported to have grown by 50m, with 10.7 million active concurrent users (the record) registered in February. Whatever the future really holds, we are increasingly certain Fortnite will be a part of it.
Meanwhile, another game with a bright future is God of War, but it wasn’t always so bright. The reboot was one of 2018’s best games and has become the golden standard for how to restart and modernise a franchise. Nonetheless, it took Santa Monica Studios five years to complete.
A new documentary on YouTube has been released that tells the full story of that development. For anyone interested in game development in the triple-A space, it’s a fascinating watch. Clocking in at two hours, Raising Kratos provides insight into everything from the very first brainstorming session, right up to voice recording and animation work and the final stages of the release.
Raising Kratos was officially sanctioned by Sony and Santa Monica Studios, so this isn’t an unbiased view of the process. There are plenty of sickly sweet moments and there is arguably too much of an emphasis on the director, Cory Balrog, who isn’t as charismatic as the documentary wants him to be. However, despite that, Raising Kratos is a welcome (and free) perspective on a traditionally guarded process.
The last time we spoke about the future in glowing terms was for virtual reality. That hasn’t changed — we still believe VR will be commonplace in ten years. In the meantime, Oculus have taken another step forwards with the release of Oculus Quest. In this case, the big change is the move to tetherless ‘modern’ VR.
In short, if you buy an Oculus Quest, you are getting a fully functional, wireless VR kit that allows you to walk around in VR, along with two Oculus controllers. There’s no high-end PC needed, just a smartphone with the Oculus app. It’s pretty impressive for people who want to play Beat Saber or the new Star Wars Vader Immortal game without any other investment. It releases next week for around €399.