“Fortnite is eating PUBG's lunch,”
March 22, 2018 7:01 AM   Subscribe

How Fortnite became more popular than PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds [PCGamesN] “...the game’s true strength was found when Epic announced Fortnite Battle Royale in September 2017 - hot on the heels of the massively popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The Battle Royale mode has become so popular since then that it is now the most streamed game on Twitch and the newly launched mobile version topped the iOS charts across 13 countries. Given the extraordinary success of Fortnite the fact that it is now attracting celebrities from outside of games towards its shrinking battle arenas is to be expected. It is not just Drake, either: international rugby players have imitated animations from the game during matches, and even Roseanne from the TV series Roseanne (yes, her) has caught the Fortnite fever.”

• The rise and rise (and rise) of ’Fortnite' [Engadget]
“As Fornite's popularity increased, so too did general interest in the game. Both Good Morning America and the UK's This Morning show featured slots discussing the addictive nature of the game and parents' worries about a possible desensitization to violence. The game does involve classic shooter elements, but it has a vibrant, cartoony art style that doesn't show blood or gore. Does Fortnite deserve its place as one of the world's most popular games? Absolutely. Unlike shooters like Overwatch or Call of Duty, Fortnite doesn't attempt to put as much emphasis on player ranks. Matchmaking isn't based on a user's skill level, which gives players the opportunity to come face-to-face with players both more and less proficient at the game. This is key: If new or lower-skilled players are constantly matched against people who are on or around their level, they may find it hard to make an impact and suddenly the game becomes a grind.”
• Why Fortnite Battle Royale’s surprise success isn’t a matter of luck [Polygon]
“But here’s the thing: There’s nothing surprising about this. Nothing at all. Epic was built to make something like Fortnite Battle Royale. All they had to do was flip the switch, to make the decision to plow ahead full bore toward the vision. Epic previously built its identity around Gears of War in the Xbox 360. After selling the series to Microsoft, the company started experimenting with other projects in corners of the gaming space that were pointing toward the future. Fortnite borrowed from Minecraft, the new Unreal Tournament targeted esports, Paragon hoped to emulate the success of games like Dota 2 and League of Legends. For years, Epic has been waiting, like a surfer, to catch the right wave. With Battle Royale, they did it. Epic Games makes the Unreal Engine, one of the more powerful and versatile game engines in the world. That’s the foundation for Fortnite. But they very clearly built Fortnite with the same kind of rigor that went into Unreal. Not only are the engine and the game intertwined, but they are each enhanced by that closeness. Which is to say, it’s not just a game. It’s a platform.”
• Fortnite beats PUBG to become Twitch’s most streamed, most watched game [VG24/7]
“The popularity of Fortnite is no secret at this point, and this is well reflected in the game’s Twitch viewership data. Before Fortnite came along, PUBG was the talk of the town. The game dominated Twitch, consistently bringing in more viewers than even the biggest long-standing Twitch games like League of Legends and Dota 2. Now, it appears there’s a new king. Fortnite, PUBG’s main competitor, has now dethroned PUBG to become the most streamed, and most watched game on Twitch. Stat trackers Sully Gnome have been tracking this rise in popularity ever since the game added a battle royale mode. Though PUBG maintained its lead until early February, on February 9, Fortnite started pulling in more daily viewers than PUBG. Since then, PUBG began a steady decline in viewership, and Fortnite continued to soar. Anecdotally, the vast majority of streams are of the battle royale mode, though there’s no way to accurately split Save the World numbers from battle royale’s. But you don’t need numbers to know which part of Fortnite is the most popular.”
• Fortnite Made More Money, Had More Viewers Than PUBG In February On PC [Gamespot]
“Fortnite is eating away at PUBG, it seems. Research company SuperData has released a report that claims Fortnite is bigger these days than the game that inspired it in terms of viewers and revenue. In the last week of February, Fortnite had 14 million unique viewers on Twitch (this was before the Drake-Ninja mega-stream), while PUBG had 8.7 million at the time, according to the report. By comparison, PUBG was leading during the last week of January, when it had 8.5 million unique viewers compared to 6.1 million for Fortnite. [...] According to SuperData, Fortnite is more popular than PUBG right now because it is more accessible due in part to its business model (free) and its cartoon-style visuals. Working against PUBG, the firm said, is that cheating is still a problem, which has reportedly pushed the developer to allocate resources to address those problems.”
posted by Fizz (91 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oof.

I really really really like plunkbat (a.k.a. pubg). I have played an absurd amount.

I have tried Fortnite, and it doesn't do it for me at all. The style is fine, the controls are garbage. Playing it on a PC with a mouse and keyboard, all I can feel is that this thing wants me to be using an XBox controller. The gunplay is really unsatisfying. The sound is nuts (I feel like you can hear other players a mile away). 3rd person view with no free look really bugs me.

In general: I am super meh on it, and I wish I wasn't.

That said, I totally get why it is taking off. Plunkbat has a lot of good aspects, but the developers have repeatedly screwed the pooch on a lot of important aspects of the game. They've spent an insane amount of dev time and money and there's so much stupid quality of life stuff still unpolished in it. Their community outreach and communication vacillates between nonexistent and hostile. Probably most frustrating, the game goes through waves every couple weeks where new cheats arise and the game is basically unplayable for a week if you care at all about not dying 20 minutes into a match from a guy who (on the death cam replay) is clearly watching you through terrain, tracking your movement perfectly, and auto-headshotting you the moment you come into view.

So: oof. I think the mechanics of Plunkbat are vastly superior, but the dev team has squandered their first-mover advantage so hard it hurts.
posted by tocts at 7:13 AM on March 22, 2018 [8 favorites]


I haven't watched any Fortnite streams, but beyond the obvious f2p angle I got the sense that a lot of the popularity was due to the building stuff they ported in from the original game concept.

PUBG itself feels like its ultimate modern ancestor is DayZ, so it makes sense to remix the survival gameplay verbs back into this arcadeified descendant.

Beyond that, the cultural penetration of this game is beyond anything I've ever seen. It's truly wild. You see ultra popular f2p games regularly, but they seem to gradually retreat into their vast but insular communities. Wonder what will happen to this one.
posted by selfnoise at 7:22 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Seems obvious to me as just an observer. Fortnite looks good, the action seems clear and interesting, seems to run well, and the design of it in general is better. PUBG looks like someone making a game out of ugly free/default assets from 2004. It has no artistic vision whatsoever and watching it, it's just really uninteresting on it's own. PUBG pretty much looks like the also ugly and janky DayZ. Even the name is mess, Pub-gee? Pubguh? Player Unknown Battle Grounds? All of those are dumb as hell to say.

Fortnite actually looks fun to play, I've been tempted to try it after seeing streams and clips of it. Can't say the same thing has ever been true for PUBG, even with all of the people who were once singing its praises.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:33 AM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Fortnite Made More Money, Had More Viewers Than PUBG In February On PC

In terms of revenue, SuperData's calculations say Fortnite made $126 million during February on PC, while PUBG pulled in $103 million. It is unclear how SuperData collected its data.


If something is the first part of your news headline, it might be a good idea to know?
posted by ODiV at 7:35 AM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


all I can feel is that this thing wants me to be using an XBox controller.

Yep, and as someone who used to play Unreal Tournament on PC but never made the transition to console for that kind of game, I can say that this is the first XBox title of this game type I have ever played that feels genuinely good to play with a console controller. My first experience with Fortnite was this past weekend (my son finally got his grades up high enough to be allowed to play it, and it looked fun) and now I'm hooked. It has everything I like about League of Legends (time-boxed gameplay, funneling of players towards a choke point, free to play, obvious adjustments based on player feedback) without the many things I dislike.
posted by davejay at 7:41 AM on March 22, 2018


It's weird- Fortnite began life as a fusion of Minecraft (or really, Sourceforts, but nobody remembers Sourceforts) and Orcs Must Die!, and it was disappointing to play the beta and see how boring they'd made it. The pivot from the original design to a plunkbat rival was unexpected, at least to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:45 AM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Anyway, it's amazing how quickly Epic has thrown everything behind Fortnite. Shutting down Paragon, pretty quiet on Unreal Tournament lately. They're clearly betting big on it and it seems to be working out really well so far. I wonder how many free users they're able to convert into paying something.

Even moreso than H1Z1, this side-mode has quickly overtaken the main game in terms of renown. You ask someone what Fortnite is and they're probably going to describe a free to play battle royale game.

I would bet PUBG isn't too worried about Fortnite. They both seem to be in no trouble at all, popularity-wise. Hopefully a lot of engine improvements Epic is making can improve both games.
posted by ODiV at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't think you can underestimate how much Ninja's Twitch stream has helped Fortnite's fan base grow. I watch him myself, and while in many ways he's a standard-issue dudebro, he's a relentlessly entertaining and positive dudebro. He's also the game's biggest advocate.

One reason he frequently cites for switching from PUBG to Fortnite is the developer support. Fortnite just works... without major lag or bugs. PUBG is still plagued with bugs, lag and cheaters.

I've tried playing Fortnite myself and it's not my cup of tea. I'm terrible at it and haven't the patience to get better (Warframe is my jam, baby!). But it's very entertaining to watch someone highly skilled go nuts on stream.
posted by Laura Palmer's Cold Dead Kiss at 7:50 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've been on the plunk train for going on a year now and so look at Fortnite with interest as Something Different but my first attempt to get into it really just sort of cratered. It looks and feels much more jolly and accessible which I think are good things all in all and explain much of its success, but it also didn't feel solid to me, in a moment-to-moment gameplay sense, the way that plunkbat does, and the difference is so significant that it distracted me on first go from falling into a game rhythm.

I'm inclined to give it a couple more shots and just try to reset my expectations, because Fortnite does a better job tonally of trying to *not* be a Realistic Murder Simulation, something I was just talking again about my frustration with in games in another thread. If I can find my way to embracing the loose, goofy, arcadey muss that seems to be the comparative control structure, it seems like it would be a fun way to chase after Battle Royale highs and lows.

But I haven't gotten there yet; there was no sign of the flashes of weird idiotic brilliance of e.g. blasting a VW minibus-alike through another team's adhoc M4 roadblock, handbraking the bus over onto its side while my friends get scattered out behind, and then fleeing laughing and hollering into the hills as three different hostile squads get distracted from finishing me off by trying to take each other out. Plunkbat continues to be rough around the edges and overinvested in its half-assed mil-sim heritage besides, but it's also an engine for hijinks in a way that I can't see a clear throughline to on Fortnite yet. And all my friends are there.
posted by cortex at 7:54 AM on March 22, 2018 [8 favorites]


As a PUBG player, this is my surprised face.

The really embarrassing thing about PUBG is the recent mobile version -- it's quite well optimized (runs fine on my iPhone 6), has detailed stats, auto-pickup, etc. Meanwhile the PC version is largely the same GPU-burning Early Access jankfest it was a year ago.

Fortnite runs way better on PC, but I kinda bounced off it. I guess I need "realism" from my survival simulators.

PUBG pretty much looks like the also ugly and janky DayZ.

This isn't a coincidence -- they both originated as mods for the Arma series of military simulator games, which aren't going to win any awards for aesthetics.
posted by neckro23 at 7:58 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I strongly prefer playing PUBG to Fortnite. It's the first "shooter" game I ever put more than 10 hours into. Now I'm well over 200 hours which is almost Civ and CitiesSkylines-level usage for a casual gamer like myself.

But with Bluehole's inept management of performance, bugs, cheaters, and content updates (the only thing really right is the gameplay design IMO), it was inevitable that someone was going to eat their lunch. Maybe they'll learn from this, because PUBG has a winning recipe, if they can only fix the damn thing.
posted by tclark at 7:59 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think these comments are a bit skewed because MeFi is not reflective of Fortnite's young base of players.

Fortnite's iterative improvements and experiments (teams of 20 anyone?) are generally smart and well done. The learning curve is real but if you put the time in you can improve and the game feels really well balanced. It's also the first game that my son is markedly better at than I am.
posted by ejoey at 8:23 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anyway, it's amazing how quickly Epic has thrown everything behind Fortnite. Shutting down Paragon, pretty quiet on Unreal Tournament lately.

Apparently it was the UT team that made this mode, so.. yeah, that's dead as hell.
posted by selfnoise at 8:29 AM on March 22, 2018


I think these comments are a bit skewed because MeFi is not reflective of Fortnite's young base of players.

For me I think it's temporal in the much more immediate sense: Plunkbat came out first and I got invested in it. For all that I look at Fortnite with a kind of "eh, but it doesn't feel the same", that's largely a product of Plunkbat being my basis of comparison, not any issues with the aesthetic itself. I like goofy, I like cartoony, I played a heck of a lot of TF2 back in the day and e.g. Torchlight 2 was probably aesthetically my favorite ARPG to spend time in.

If Fortnite had kicked this whole genre surge off a year ago and I jumped in on it at the time, and then Plunk was coming along now, I'd probably have strongly contrasting feelings here, not the least of which would be "boy that looks like a bleak-ass Arma-alike, I'll go play Counter-Strike if I want to be headshotted repeatedly by some fourteen-year-old with an AWM". But Plunkbat got there first and is where I landed, and that's a buy-in that is hard to remove from the equation.
posted by cortex at 8:36 AM on March 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don't really love watching either PUBG or Fortnite, but it seems like the streamers who I watch regularly have come down pretty hard on the idea that Fortnite is just plain being developed like a video game made by professional video game developers, and that this is a thing the people who play video games professionally need. They can play badly-made games occasionally on a lark, but a lot of things that are irksome to regular players are like... well, imagine if you were working in a standard office and Microsoft Excel became unusable for a week or two now and then. If this is your job, that just isn't okay, and at that point "which game has superior mechanics" just really isn't a consideration. One of them is developed in a way you can stake your ability to pay bills on, and the other isn't.
posted by Sequence at 8:37 AM on March 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


So I've been very interested in the ecosystem around Fortnite recently, in particular the very real economic effects that we see in the people who play the game for a living. In particular, the top streamer who goes by the name "Ninja".

I just popped into his live stream (seen here) to get some numbers. Here are some mind-boggling stats for a 25 year old professional player who plays this game full-time in his basement:
  • Currently 87,115 people are watching live
  • He has 99,378,705 total views over the life of the stream
  • He is 213,510 subscriptions on Twitch Prime.
This last statistic is the mindboggling one. A few weeks ago Twitch and Amazon created a deal where you can use your Amazon Prime account to connect to Twitch Prime for free. This typically costs $4.99 a month, and my understanding is 1/2 of this goes to the streamer. So a quick calculation tells us that this guy is making $533,775 a month.

Let me say that again. This (extremely good) Fortnite player is making 1/2 million dollars a month playing this game. (Here's a recent interview with him on CNBC with more details.)

Additionally, he took another leap in popularity last week after playing online with the rapper Drake. This feels like new type of pop culture business venture: the gamer gets to benefit from the popularity of the rapper and similarly, the rapper gets access to the key demographic of teenagers to help keep his name fresh and relevant.
posted by jeremias at 8:37 AM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Probably most frustrating, the game goes through waves every couple weeks where new cheats arise and the game is basically unplayable for a week if you care at all about not dying 20 minutes into a match from a guy who (on the death cam replay) is clearly watching you through terrain, tracking your movement perfectly, and auto-headshotting you the moment you come into view.

I doubt there's anyone in the industry (maybe Blizzard?) who could compete with the makers of the Unreal Engine itself in making a game like this stable, bug-free, and secure from cheaters. Not that fairness matters at all when you are deciding which game is more fun to play, but calling out the PUBG devs as lazy or incompetent because they can't do what Epic can is pretty unfair.
posted by straight at 8:46 AM on March 22, 2018


I've tried both, and I've come to the conclusion that they are very much like Dwarf Fortress for me.... in that, I *want* to be the type of gamer that can play and enjoy them, but no matter how hard I try, I am so terrible at them that it turns out I'd much rather read/hear stories about these games than actually play them.
posted by Grither at 8:52 AM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, PUBG is built on an engine and assets put together using the Unreal Engine that they started work on in 2016 or so.

Epic has been working on the Fortnite engine and assets since at least 2011. The smoothness of the controls, the stability and security, the building mechanics--most of the things that makes Fortnite better were probably already mostly done before they even pivoted to Battle Royale mode. Epic started building it in Unreal Engine 4 several years before anyone else in the industry had Unreal Engine 4.
posted by straight at 8:53 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


In some ways, PUBG came first, but in a lot of important ways, Epic had an enormous head start.
posted by straight at 8:59 AM on March 22, 2018


> plunkbat

There's a far richer lexicon of nicknames for Plunder Under's Battle Grunder than is dreamt of in your philosophy.
posted by sourcequench at 9:03 AM on March 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


I doubt there's anyone in the industry (maybe Blizzard?) who could compete with the makers of the Unreal Engine itself in making a game like this stable, bug-free, and secure from cheaters.

A lot of the things that made people switch were complaints I was definitely already hearing before Fortnite got to be a thing, so it's not like they're just not as good compared with Fortnite. If Fortnite didn't happen, it would have been a different game that the streamers switched to. Epic definitely had a lot of advantages in doing this, but that whole "cheaters show up and completely destroy your game on a regular basis" thing is just not tenable for someone who makes their whole living this way, and other competitive multiplayer games that aren't Overwatch or Fortnite have managed to at least do reasonably well at keeping them in check.
posted by Sequence at 9:08 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm in my mid-40s and I've been playing computer games for over 30 years and will happily spend hours either blasting my way through singleplayer GTA V or merrily trucking across Europe in Euro Truck Sim 2.

On 3 separate occasions I've been at somebody else's house and have tried one of these FPS type games (including Fortnite a few weeks ago) and every time it makes me just feel so fucking OLD and USELESS.

Whether it's online or against the resident teenager I literally do not have the first clue what I'm doing. I'll spot an enemy from a distance and go after him but within 30 seconds I'm dead without seeing another player. And I never know how I died, who killed me or where they were when they shot me. Every fucking time.

I know it's a question of practice but the humiliation is so great each time, I can't bring myself to go through it all voluntarily.
posted by jontyjago at 9:09 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Granted, I haven't played FPSes with zeal since UT2, and never really got into Overwatch, but what's with people treating Fortnite and PUBG like they're revolutionary?

Is this just a "teens thinking their generation invented sex" sort of thing? Last Man Standing isn't exactly an innovative mode/game idea, right?
posted by explosion at 9:15 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


If Fortnite didn't happen, it would have been a different game that the streamers switched to.

And further to that, and of interest to me as someone who is digging the Battle Royale trend but isn't so far latching on to Fortnight, it will almost certainly be another different game, and another, that streams switch to as the current gold rush on the format continues to hit the market. Plunkbat's not just up against Fortnite, they're against everyone else also grabbing at a slice of this fracas-pie.

Epic was partly just in a good position to grab a big big slice, and notably got a bit lucky there as well since Fortnite proper didn't seem to be doing all that well after years of development and an EA run but provided a really solid framework of assets and systems to bolt the new gameplay mode onto. As I understand one of the lunches that Fortnite's Battle Royale mode is eating is vanilla Fortnite's. And stealing your own lunch is certainly better for you than someone else running off with it. Not so great for the folks on the other projects that dev resources have been stripped from, though, or those games' fanbases.
posted by cortex at 9:17 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Fortnite, Plunkbat, whatever. I'm holding out for the battle royale mode in Titanfall 3. 100 players drop onto an island in giant robots. C'mon EA, make it happen.
posted by skymt at 9:18 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Granted, I haven't played FPSes with zeal since UT2, and never really got into Overwatch, but what's with people treating Fortnite and PUBG like they're revolutionary?

They're not revolutionary in a "we invented video games" way, at all. As a genre they're doing interesting things and people are really, really enjoying that, though. I say this as someone who has been steadily playing FPSes with varying degrees of zeal since Quake deathmatch on the LAN twenty years ago. "Revolutionary" is pretty charged and not something I find any use in bickering over, but this is a sub-genre boom based on some core mechanical ideas that really have not previously manifested in the multiplayer FPS scene before.

Last Man Standing isn't exactly an innovative mode/game idea, right?

Last of a hundred in a randomly choreographed huge arena is, in practice, is the thing, even if many of the constructive elements are familiar. It's not some Einsteinian stroke of genius but it is definitely, in terms of feel and pace and scope, a new thing.
posted by cortex at 9:23 AM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


...what's with people treating Fortnite and PUBG like they're revolutionary?

Is this just a "teens thinking their generation invented sex" sort of thing? Last Man Standing isn't exactly an innovative mode/game idea, right?


Since the Battle Royale genre takes its name from an almost 20 year old film, yeah, I think they're pretty aware it's not a new concept. I think the difference is that now we have the tech to have a 100 player free-for-all with the ability to pretty seamlessly hop back in to another match after you die. If something like this was done back in the old days it would have been you waiting around for 45 mins for the match to end, or trying to find another server to connect to, or having the server chugging along because it's been modded to support 100 players instead of the usual 16, etc.

There have been mods for other games offering this type of experience before. Everyone's pretty up-front about recognizing this. This has been brewing for a while. They've just gotten the formula (and streaming exposure) just right this time so it's caught on.
posted by ODiV at 9:25 AM on March 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


At my house I'll be upstairs playing PUBG on the PC while Junior is downstairs playing Fortnite on the PS4. He's played them both and prefers Fortnite, both because it's Fortnite and because that's where all his friends are.

I on the other hand, don't like the construction in Fortnite and prefer the larger space and higher tension I feel in PUBG.

But the cheaters can go pound sand.
posted by donpardo at 9:29 AM on March 22, 2018


Not that fairness matters at all when you are deciding which game is more fun to play, but calling out the PUBG devs as lazy or incompetent because they can't do what Epic can is pretty unfair.

I guess it's good that I never used either of those words, then?

Look, I am in software development (not game development, granted). I get that it's hard. I understand a lot of what they're going through. I don't think they're lazy or incompetent. I do, however, think they've managed their project pretty badly. I'm sure a lot of the "why" is that it blew up bigger than they could have expected, but that doesn't change the fact that the mismanagement is happening.

Even prior to 1.0 and the release of Miramar (the desert map), performance and cheating were major problems. I am fully aware that dev teams are not fungible, and you can't just assign e.g. the people expert in engine dev or graphics to anti-cheat or networking. That being said, they've been flush with cash for about a year now, and the choice of what teams to staff/fund at what levels is totally in their control. They have repeatedly chosen shiny new things over paying down tech debt or attacking quality of life issues.

They've also majorly mismanaged their community building and communication. They release patches that don't even list half the changes made, leaving it up to players to figure it out (sometimes even omitting the good things they did!). They'll announce downtimes that amount to "nobody in the US is playing tonight" with like a 12-hour lead-time and then also fuck up the timezones in their announcement so it turns out it's an hour earlier than they told everyone (this has happened repeatedly!). They have a whole (super volatile) skins market that greatly contributes to cheating (due to the real money you can make selling things), but seem unwilling to consider modifying it (even temporarily) to help address the problem. They released an anti-cheat fix that was so poorly tested it totally fucked game performance for a non-trivial amount of players, and when they finally had to roll it back their announcement was dripping in sulky "it was totally awesome but you made us take it back" attitude.

And it just goes on and on.

I've never had to be in the position before of wanting so badly for a company to succeed and just watching it fuck it up over and over again like Bluehole (now PUBG Corp).
posted by tocts at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


Anyway, I'm glad that Drake kid is finally getting his moment in the spotlight.
posted by cortex at 9:37 AM on March 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


Whether it's online or against the resident teenager I literally do not have the first clue what I'm doing. I'll spot an enemy from a distance and go after him but within 30 seconds I'm dead without seeing another player. And I never know how I died, who killed me or where they were when they shot me. Every fucking time.

Heh, jontyjago, count me as another 40+ year old who is in the same category as you. I will say that Fortnite in particular has a different dynamic that allows you to compensate for lack of teenage reflexes.

The building aspect is the best example here, it took me a number of games to "rewire" my brain to begin building a barrier when I was shot at, or to get the high ground when you want to attack. It is truly a different mindset from the traditional FPS games and if you ignore it, you'll get pwned.

There's also alternative methods of combat with things like impulse grenades and recently C4 explosives to mix things up, but yeah I pretty much get destroyed by any 12 year old if it's a straight up firefight. I tried playing Titanfall 2 a few months ago and I noped out very quickly, this fortysomething brain was not handling that too well.
posted by jeremias at 9:53 AM on March 22, 2018


Thanks to my 11 year old son, I've recently started playing Fortnite, and it's definitely fun. Going for the cartoony aesthetic was the right move. Gorey splatfests filled with gibs just seems bleh.

Also the construction angle really doesn't work from any real world standpoint, so making the whole game cartoony and rolling with the unreality fits well.

explosion In addition to what others have said, I think part of the innovation is the sheer scale, though there's bigger scale multiplayer shooters out there, and embracing the gaminess of it. It goes in cycles, the original Doom and Unreal were hardly trying for ultra-realism, but lately most shooters have at least tried to be semi-realistic.

Which makes a game like Overwatch, or Fornite, which decided basically "fuck realism, we'll go for silly fun" a bit of a breath of fresh air.

Fortnite also went the somewhat unusual step of not having respawns. You die, you're out. Done. And most other FPS games are all about the respawn (obviously there are exceptions).

So it isn't so much that they were super duper innovative and invented a whole genre, but they did combine existing elements in a new and unusual way that's refreshing.

I'd also like to mention Splatoon, which I bet was an influence and which doesn't get near the attention it deserves which not only went for the fuck realism go for fun angle, but also upended the whole shooter thing in that the actual objective is painting the ground not splatting your opponents.
posted by sotonohito at 9:55 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


People rail on the performance of PUBG on Xbox, but it actually looks pretty nice IMO and hey, no cheating. I tried Fortnite when it came out (the worst auto-aim in the world) and again about two nights ago and immediately uninstalled after 3 matches. I get why it's fun and easy to watch streams of, but it's so not for me.

What's weird about PUBG is that it might be the only shooter I've played on console that has no auto-aim. Zero. That makes some interesting engagements possible because a moving zig zagging target is very hard to hit at any distance. Easy to see, hard to hit. But if someone plops down and doesn't move, very hard to see and easy to hit... as the circle shrink, you start playing mind games and a bit of luck does help.

It's really great and tense. Between PUBG and Rocket League, my friends and I have a lot of entertainment.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:55 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


The sentiment behind the Polygon link is interesting - the idea that Epic was the perfect company to make this sort of game and turn it into a hit. Because Epic hasn't had a true hit since Gears of War and has been riding on that series' long tail for better than a decade now. Their only other "hit" between GoW and Fortnite was Infinity Blade - an iOS game. It's not about them being hit-makers. It's about them making an in-house game engine with the flexibility to pivot on the fly.

Others have already mentioned Paragon, Epic's last attempt to join in on an existing trend. Paragon came too late in the MOBA trend to catch on. But Fortnite (specifically this mode of Fortnite) came out in time to catch the Battle Royale trend early enough to be a major player. Making it a mode of an existing game instead of spinning up their own stand-alone Battle Royale game (do we have a nice short name or acronym for this genre yet?) was really smart. I'm sure Ubi and EA and Activision and everyone else is working on 100 player open yet shrinking map elimination games right now, but don't have the flexibility (either managerially or engine-wise) to just drop the mode into an existing game.
posted by thecjm at 10:00 AM on March 22, 2018


People rail on the performance of PUBG on Xbox, but it actually looks pretty nice IMO and hey, no cheating.

I'm actually interested in how these games play on mobile devices/tablets. I would never choose to play these on a tablet or on my phone because I feel like you lose the precision needed for these games with a lack of gamepad/keyboard/mouse. But apparently it's getting strong reviews and people are enjoying the port. I am getting a new phone soon and I might load it up just to see how it plays.

That being said, I prefer Fortnite to PUBG because of it's cartoonish appearance, it's much more friendly. And the community seems less aggro. Though that might just be a random luck kind of thing. I'm sure there are plenty of assholes on both sides.
posted by Fizz at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2018


One huge factor in Fortnite's success that seems to be underappreciated is that it runs smoothly on hardware a lot of people actually have. As big as Plunkbat has been with hardcore PC gamers, streamers, and journalists, that game needs a fairly beefy PC. Fortnite's recommended specs resemble Plunkbat's (inadequate) minimum requirements, and it scales all the way down to Intel integrated video. Not to mention console and mobile versions that by all accounts run better than Plunkbat's XBox port. (And I'd be shocked if Epic didn't have a team exploring the possibility of a Switch port.) I'll bet a lot of Fortnite players might have gotten into Plunkbat if they could run it. Combined with the free-to-play model there's practically no barrier to trying it.
posted by skymt at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


I suppose the upside of the difficulty of aiming in the mobile port is the same as with the console port: if nobody can aim, you're all in the same boat. I don't remember which review of Plunkbat mobile I read (so in all likelihood RPS if they allowed the platform dalliance) but the takeaway seemed to be "it's pretty good except for the part where you have to control your character at all, also you should probably just try strafing". Seems like an uzi could be king there.
posted by cortex at 10:09 AM on March 22, 2018


Is this just a "teens thinking their generation invented sex" sort of thing? Last Man Standing isn't exactly an innovative mode/game idea, right?'

As noted above, there are a few things that I've found make Fortnite feel different. I would not say revolutionary, but it's definitely evolutionary, if that makes sense. I think they got a whole lot of things right rather than just one major thing. Off the top of my head.
  • Most of the entire world is destructible and used as materials for building. This leads to interesting strategic decisions.
  • The building component is really well-done in my opinion. For someone who is past his prime reflex-wise, I have fun learning how to build and using wood, stone and steel to gain strategic advantage. Winning a fight with brains, not brawn, is satisfying.
  • The Battle Royale concept, again, not new, but the shrinking circle adds in a built-in suspense to the game and I personally enjoy how it affects the strategy of the end game. If the final battle is in a swamp it's an entirely different game than if it's on a mountain.
  • The looting aspect is very well done, you get that little hit of endorphin rush whenever you pop open a chest or take out a player, the sounds and visuals are all very well tuned to reward the brain's pleasure center.
  • I can choose what type of gaming experience I want. If I have 10 minutes to spare I can jump into a crowded spot and get into an immediate firefight. Or I can land somewhere distant and wander around looking at the sky and chopping down trees for 30 minutes.
posted by jeremias at 10:12 AM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Fortnite's great! I've been enjoying the Blitz mode they added this week as well and hope it sticks around a little longer. It's nice to have a little quicker pace in the game. If anyone wants to play on xbox - hit me up! GT: Arbac
posted by Arbac at 10:19 AM on March 22, 2018


Most of the entire world is destructible and used as materials for building. This leads to interesting strategic decisions.

This is the thing that I'd be most interested to hear about, as someone now steeped in the Battle Royale recipe itself but not in Fortnite. How much does the building/destructibility come into play in serious/fraught gameplay, vs. just being a sideline?

Because my impression of vanilla Fortnite, the game Epic spent years on before the big BR pivot following Plunkbat's runaway success, is that it was trying to basically add the building component to an established genre pattern of team-based zombie survival defense. Notably, vanilla Fortnite is as I understand it a two-act structure: in the first act, your human team spends x minutes collabbing together a defensive structure (a Fort, as it were), and then in the second act zombies start coming in waves (the Nite) and you work together to fend them off, and repair (and maybe expand) the structure you'd already invested a bunch of prep work in.

Cue Fortnight Battle Royale, which throws out the act structure, throws out the zombies, but keeps the building tools and the destructability because those are unique mechanics Epic has already poured all this work into.

So: how much of the building/destroying that happens in Fortnite BR happens because it's core to good gameplay? And how much happens just Because It's There, the way people honk horns or swap clothes in Plunkbat?
posted by cortex at 10:21 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I personally prefer the PUBG pace to the Fortnite pace and that's probably true for most of us older gamers. But when I watch Ninja it's clear that the level of fast creative expression in building and movement is very exciting.

I will tell you from first hand experience that getting 100 people into one multiplayer map and making it feel good is extremely difficult. It's the main reason why there are only 3 games in this space so far despite the demand (the other being h1z1). So I'm skeptical that "some other" game would have succeeded.

A big factor in the cheating on PUBG is that cheaters can earn and resell loot boxes on the steam marketplace so there is a strong financial incentive to cheat. In my opinion this was the single largest mistake they made.
posted by JZig at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2018


I just keep looking at screenshots of Fortnite and wondering: are these colorful, goofily-attired characters the result of character creation screens and outfit parts? Or are they professionally designed individual characters with names, whose sexual antics (as determined by the general hive mind of people drawing pornographic fan art of them) I will be required to keep track of to remain on the Internet?

Like, seriously, it feels like that I am required to have opinions about Overwatch ships to remain a member of the queer artist community, despite never having played the game or having much interest in first person shooters at all.
posted by egypturnash at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm a die hard PUBG player. I've played both, I strongly prefer PubG but I totally get the appeal of fortnight. And I'll also say that a LARGE part of the "lunch eating" or whatever is that both games have a fairly brutal learning curve, they take a LOT of time to learn.

Fortnite if free.

It's a lot easier to test the waters in a free game, especially if it's gonna take hours of play to get even the most basic "hang" of things. And it's very hard. Dropping 30 bucks to find out if you like a thing or can do a thing is a big ask.

With Fortnite all you have to invest is time.

But I strongly believe an established FPS is going to come along and be the World of Warcraft to Pubg and Fortnite's Ultima and Everquest. Both Fortnite and PubG have big flaws, some polished FPS core game is going to come out SOON and take players by the millions.

Then we'll all be playing 1 vs 100 Halo, or Red Dead, CS or Calling of Duties or Something both designed for this (which Fortnight isn't) and really AAA (which Pubg Isn't)
posted by French Fry at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


French Fry, I'm not a Call of Duty fan, I've always been on the other side with Battlefield. That being said, I'm interested in seeing how Call of Duty takes the Battle Royale formula and implements it into their game. There is a lot of competition right now in the FPS genre.

And I would guess that many of the people playing Fortnite or PUBG are from the Battlefield/Call of Duty fanbase, so are they willing to go back to Call of Duty because of its storied history in the FPS genre? Will they be abel to refine the Battle Royale genre to such a degree that it's worth going someplace else. So much of multiplayer is driven by where your friends are these days. So you have to kind of make sure everyone else buys the same game and agrees to go over and play and Fortnite has made that easier by making the Battle Royale mode free to play.
posted by Fizz at 10:45 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


yeah, some of the rarer items of fake video game clothing can go for hundreds of dollars. I have no idea why. strong incentives to cheat in PUBG. very frustrating.
posted by vogon_poet at 10:46 AM on March 22, 2018


I don't think anyone has really mentioned this, but the reason that I've played Fortnite is because I _can_ - I have a PS4. I do not have a computer that can play PUBG, and have never really owned a computer that can run a modern game since Battlefield 1942.

But, I have to drop this here, because it has honestly become one of my favorite games and one I play the most - Surviv.io It's a Battle Royale browser game but two dimensional - so almost like PUBG for the Flatland universe. It's undergone several major improvements, with new game modes like Squads, and getting into a new match is instant. It's embarrassing how much I play it daily.

My main complaint about Fortnite is how long it takes to join a match (maybe that has improved lately?) especially because I'm not very good at it so spend a huge amount of time waiting..
posted by Skrubly at 10:52 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


The monotization of rewards and incentive to get those rewards by subverting the game go hand in hand. The degree to which developers REFUSE to acknowledge this is a constant source of frustration I suppose I should just let go of at this point.

Because if someone in the world can make a living cheating at your game, people are gonna find a way to cheat in your game.
posted by French Fry at 10:53 AM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the Fortnite team's hustle in taking over the world, but like some others, I just don't enjoy it that much.

It just doesn't have any of the same end-game tension that I love about PUBG.

You always know where the other players are at the end because 1) you can't really hide with the stylized "cartoony" art style 2) you can't go prone and 3) they are usually building a huge fucking structure!

Nothing more thrilling than when you are down to 3 or 4 players and furiously scanning every tree, bush, or slight terrain bump in a 100-yard circle to try and get your chicken dinner.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 10:55 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Fortnite BR is also available on Macs and PUBG isn't. It doesn't mean much to Serious Gamers but it's a boon to people who happen to not have PCs and don't want to to buy extra hardware or deal with emulator configuration hell just for a couple hours of wasting time.
posted by ardgedee at 10:57 AM on March 22, 2018


My 10y son won FNBR for the first time this Monday.

I have literally never been so proud of him, ever, and I'm super proud of him in general.
posted by signal at 10:58 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


i don't think you could play PUBG in a VM anyway except maybe on one of them new $10,000 iMac Pros.

i played fortnite once and found it dull. the fun of PUBG is really in the map, for me: hiding, deciding what kinds of risks to take when moving around, stealing someone else's car, etc.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:03 AM on March 22, 2018


I will say that I appreciate how remarkably stupid some of those cheating deaths have been, even though I never want it to happen again.

Like, seared into my memory long term is the time I was driving a dunebuggy along, started taking fire from I couldn't tell where (an unremarkable event), and just went gonzo in my desperation to escape, taking my buggy off a nearby slope of rock to hurl myself into a vehicular somersault on a new vector.

And as I arced pinwheeling through the air strapped into the rolling rollcage of this flightless bird, I died to a headshot.

Now, on review, the guy who got me was cheating, which takes that head shot from a best-of moment to just sort of crappy bullshit. But! It was the kind of elaborate, balls-out cheat that makes the whole thing all the more memorable, because he wasn't just aim-hacking, he was aim-hacking from a kilometer away through several buildings and a solid mountain.
posted by cortex at 11:10 AM on March 22, 2018


I don't give two hoots about Fortnite or PUBG, but I'm happy that people are giving Epic Games money, especially for a game without blood and organs everywhere. Maybe if they make enough billions of dollars they'll remember it's still impossible to obtain Jill of the Jungle without pirating it, or finally make Jazz Jackrabbit 3.
posted by one for the books at 11:35 AM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


But I strongly believe an established FPS is going to come along and be the World of Warcraft to Pubg and Fortnite's Ultima and Everquest.

What's stopping Blizzard from adding a Battle Royale mode to Overwatch?
posted by explosion at 11:36 AM on March 22, 2018


Drake & co. playing Fortnite should be a cultural marker in some way, but I don’t have the vocabulary to explain this. A lot of rappers have been playing Fortnite, and I see Fortnite memes on Worldstar’s Instagram all the time. Right now there’s a very popular fan-made photo that is suppose to depict Ninja, Drake, Travis Scott, and Juju (wide receiver of the Pittsburgh Steelers) based upon a game they played together. This is a strange pop-culture/“the culture” moment that most first person shooters don’t get to have.
posted by gucci mane at 12:00 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


What's stopping Blizzard from adding a Battle Royale mode to Overwatch?

Exactly. Being first is not a marker of long term success in video games. ID Software had the first great FPS they don't even exist anymore. Westwood Studios had the first Great RTS and they aren't around anymore.
posted by French Fry at 12:20 PM on March 22, 2018


yeah, some of the rarer items of fake video game clothing can go for hundreds of dollars. I have no idea why.

One of the big revelations (at least for me) of the last 5-10 years has been that there are a fair number of people who will spend thousands and thousands of dollars on in-game stuff for almost any video game with even minimal incentivization. The economy of pretty much every free-to-play game that exists is completely bizarre because of the people who pump every free dollar they have into them. There's usually a gambling element, so that's some of it, and I guess there's also an endorphin hit from getting to take a shortcut through what would otherwise be an irritating slog. It's wild, though. The amount that individual people are spending on this stuff is two orders of magnitude higher than I would have guessed before I started seeing testimonials and quickly estimating the numbers on how people are getting to the top of leaderboards on the games I play that do have microtransactions.
posted by Copronymus at 12:20 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


One of the big revelations (at least for me) of the last 5-10 years has been that there are a fair number of people who will spend thousands and thousands of dollars on in-game stuff for almost any video game with even minimal incentivization.

I work at a bank and you’d never believe how many people overdraft their bank accounts by hundreds of dollars due to these games. It’s unfathomable to me, even while I witness it.
posted by gucci mane at 12:51 PM on March 22, 2018


I follow games mainly though Giant Bomb so the Fortnite thing seen though that lens is especially weird. They have a tendency to fixate on games that may or may not be big in the overall zeitgeist, like the love they heaped on Hitman in 2016. Likewise they fell heavily into PUBG last year, enough to give it their Best Game of 2017 award. Now they hardly mention PUBG because they've fallen off for the same reasons many others have, like the rampant cheating and the continual failure to improve the game's rough edges.

Now Fortnite has ascended but they all bounced off of it after closely following its development. I'm curious to see if they'll force themselves to play the way they played PUBG to capitalize on its popularity, but I suspect they won't. One of my favorite things about Giant Bomb is they don't feel a need to cover games just because they're popular. They were essentially founded on the principle of not bowing to outside pressure in their games coverage and I continue to respect them for that.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:51 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Being first is not a marker of long term success in video games.

Being best, not first, is pretty much Blizzard's MO. They weren't first to RTS, but people know Warcraft and Starcraft. They weren't first to roguelikes, but Diablo. World of Warcraft is huge. Hearthstone succeeded where so many other online TCGs failed.

I'd say their only miss is Heroes of the Storm, but while it hasn't dominated LoL or DotA, it's a strong 3rd place that has found its niche.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Blizzard has their Overwatch team working on swooping in on this bit.
posted by explosion at 12:52 PM on March 22, 2018


So: how much of the building/destroying that happens in Fortnite BR happens because it's core to good gameplay? And how much happens just Because It's There, the way people honk horns or swap clothes in Plunkbat?

@cortex Good question, it's actually critical to good gameplay. Checkout this battle between two of the best players in Fortnite, some serious building skill involved here. (Although this is "elite" play this skill does trickle down.)

It just doesn't have any of the same end-game tension that I love about PUBG.

@arch_stanton My heart rate at the end of a 1-1 would disagree with you.;) I'm not sure I can agree that cartoonish vs. realistic graphics translates to any advantage in suspense or tension within a video game, but it's all good, there's room in the gaming universe for both!
posted by jeremias at 12:58 PM on March 22, 2018


What's stopping Blizzard from adding a Battle Royale mode to Overwatch?

Many things. First, the classes are all built for only one opposing team. Second, they would have to rebuild their networking model from scratch. Third they would have to decrease the visual clutter of abilities because it's already very hard to tell what's going on with 12 people. Fourth they would need much larger and more open maps. Sure they could so it but it would be an almost entirely different game. One of the big reasons the fortnite conversion worked is because it was already a quasi-open-world game, overwatch is not.
posted by JZig at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I also want to say on the topic of toxic communities: my friends and I roll as a 3 man squad in PUBG (Xbox) which we can play w/ 3 at a slight disadvantage which we do. But sometimes we roll the dice and have a rando on our team. We stay in our own party because we're not INSANE but we've had overwhelmingly helpful, team player, good playing teammates.

One time we all died and our last guy was the rando and he went fucking APESHIT RAMBO tearing down like 10 guys, I shit you not. We won and it was the best god damn thing ever in all of human achievement.

I know there are lots of toxic people out there, but there's also a lot of just normal people wanting to have a fun time and driving a vehicle into the storm to pick a bro up.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:06 PM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


They weren't first to roguelikes, but Diablo.

God help me, I've more than given up on roguelike purity to the point where I argue explicitly for wide and permissive use of roguelike and roguelikelike as labels for conceptual elements of decided non-Rogue-like games, but Diablo will still never be a roguelike and what Blizzard landed a ten-ton weight on with it was the ARPG genre. Apparently this I cannot let go.

But in any case, I agree that if Blizzard decides to come for the BR genre they will come hard and it will probably be really, really good. I don't know how likely it would be to be an Overwatch mode specifically since the flipside of Blizzard coming hard on something is they design for that thing and Overwatch was designed as a team game with a lot of flash and a smaller headcount than BR stuff (see basically what JZig is saying), but I could see them doing A Thing.
posted by cortex at 1:24 PM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Alterac Valley had 50 players...

Heroes of the Storm gained little traction in the MOBA community...

Still, Blizzard has the resources.
posted by Windopaene at 1:27 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think we'll see a Battle Royale mode in a DICE game, maybe even this year. Their games and engine can do the scale already, and like Epic they have the technical skill to turn it around quickly.
posted by selfnoise at 1:39 PM on March 22, 2018


Also, I just had an idea so amazing/stupid I can only assume that Avalanche is already on it:. Just Cause Royale. Those games already have a bit of the creative verbiage of a Fortnite type of game (grappling, destruction, wingsuit)
posted by selfnoise at 1:42 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if I am too naive about game design, or too optimistic, but a lot of the "no way" points regarding Overwatch seem easy enough to overcome.

Balance? Tweak some numbers, and if 4 of the 20 or so characters don't play well in the format, that's a project for the future.

Networking? How do we know this is a problem?

Maps? They can reuse art assets in the short term, and build out a new, unique map in the long term.

Visual clutter? One a more spread out field, it may not matter. Having 12 players in a small space in Fortnite or PUBG is a rare occasion.

Overwatch already has the engine, the art assets, the sound, etc. Networking seems like the only major hurdle, the rest seems doable.

It wouldn't surprise me if they've already built it and played it internally on a quick-and-dirty build, and they're just polishing it up, rather than having to build more than the map and scoreboard display from scratch.
posted by explosion at 1:49 PM on March 22, 2018


That'd be interesting, selfnoise. One thing I'd say about the BR genre is it feels like it depends somewhat on moving away from the power fantasy design trappings of single-player games, whereas Just Cause is very much You, Action Hero vs. the world. But it's probably too narrow a read on my part to say you need to strip away powers when instead you can just give them to everyone. And to some extent I suppose that's already happening with Fortnite, with both the leveling/gear stuff and the building aspect.

On another front entirely, I'm curious about Darwin Project as a distinctly smaller-scope (and far more genuinely Hunger Games-ish) take on the genre boom, though I'm not really sure how that one's gonna pan out. I love the idea of asymmetrical roles in multiplayer games but I also can't think of the last time I actually ended up spending serious time with a multiplayer game that depended on asymmetrical roles.
posted by cortex at 1:54 PM on March 22, 2018


Balance? Tweak some numbers, and if 4 of the 20 or so characters don't play well in the format, that's a project for the future.

I don't think ANY of the characters play well in this format. I could maybe be persuaded otherwise, but one of the things about the Battle Royale is that they're based on your skills and equipment that's pretty randomized, and I think introducing known abilities with cooldowns and counters is a very, very different game. The traditional battle royale game, everybody drops basically unarmed and defenseless and planning how to get weapons and being able to roll with whatever gear you manage to scrounge up is a big part of the game, right? Overwatch characters don't seem to actually mean anything if you start giving them random gear, and the battle royale format doesn't mean much with functionally unlimited resources and immediate knowledge of what to expect from every person the moment you see them. The things that are strengths of Overwatch game design seem to be exactly wrong for battle royale.
posted by Sequence at 2:05 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


tocts: I really really really like plunkbat
Pope Guilty: The pivot from the original design to a plunkbat rival
cortex: the way that plunkbat does
skymt: Fortnite, Plunkbat, whatever.

For pushing this completely unfunny name Rock Paper Shotgun can go die in a fire for all I care.

Anyway.

Fortnite gives me hope that someone somewhere will make a game that is PUBG but without all the jank. I just plays so well. Too bad its unplayable for me. I might be able to deal with the third-person-without-freelook thing and the floaty gunplay but the forced monkey cheese random ~~wackiness~~ is just such a huge turnoff for me. Oh ha ha ha its not an airplane its a BUS. Oh look at us giving silly alliterative names to all points of interest. Isn't that just precious. Ha ha. Oh you think we have parachutes? Oh noooo, its an umbrella. Isn't that funny? Christ.

I mean I'm all for not being super serious and having fun with your game but if you want to do funny you better have some creativity too.
posted by Soi-hah at 2:31 PM on March 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


For pushing this completely unfunny name Rock Paper Shotgun can go die in a fire for all I care.

I blame Bluehole for naming something "Player Unknown's Battlegrounds" it's a name SO fantastically clunky that it was bound to gather nicknames like a popular red head in an 80's sports movie.
posted by French Fry at 2:45 PM on March 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


"On 3 separate occasions I've been at somebody else's house and have tried one of these FPS type games (including Fortnite a few weeks ago) and every time it makes me just feel so fucking OLD and USELESS."

I'm with you jontyjago. I used to be a fairly ok Gears of War player on the 360 back in, what, 2006? But that was an Epic game, absolutely streamlined and optimised to the hilt, with first class netcode. ADSL2+ was enough back then, in Australia.

These days on my One S I don't even bother with an Xbox Live subscription. I'm getting a PS4 Pro (God of War bundle baby, even though I've never played God of War or indeed even a PlayStation) in a few weeks (because the Xbox doesn't have any games), and I won't bother with...whatever the Sony equivalent of Xbox Live is. I just get obliterated too easily and too instantly.

Horde Mode in Gears 4 I did ok with (because I actually played it properly) but I can't handle deathmatch or PvP or anything like that, because I am just a Clunky Old Man. So I've missed out on a lot of fun-sounding stuff, like PUBG and Fortnite and Overwatch and all the Battlefields and Fronts and Calls of Duties.

Just give me Far Cry 5 already. As a kid I would usually play by myself, with my GI Joes and Transformers and He-Mans and Micro Machines, and I loved it, to the extent I hated playing with other kids when the "opportunity" arose. So sandbox-style games are the only ones I truly enjoy these days, because they make me feel the same way I felt as a kid. Kingdom Come: Deliverance might even be ok after another two months and six terabytes of patching. State of Decay 2. Cyberpunk 2077. Whatever. I'll just have to leave the zeitgeisty games to the young'uns.

Feels weird to be a Grumpy Old Gamer. Video games arrived in my lifetime and already I hate most of the new batch (online competitive stuff). It's like, back in my day we had rotary phones and we played Eye of the Beholder 2 off a floppy on a monochrome 386 and by god we liked it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:23 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've tried both, and I've come to the conclusion that they are very much like Dwarf Fortress for me.... in that, I *want* to be the type of gamer that can play and enjoy them, but no matter how hard I try, I am so terrible at them that it turns out I'd much rather read/hear stories about these games than actually play them.

Well there it is. Now I guess I have to try these games. Almost every time someone says something like this about a game, it turns out to be directly up my alley.
posted by 256 at 3:25 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Played a few rounds, and quite enjoy the concept. My eldest has managed to find a stable connection through VPN, and is getting quite good.

This is not me making excuses, I am old and slow and that is why I cannot win. But nevertheless it bothers me that in these kinds of games the constant jumping and bobbing around is the needed winning way to play. That is not how it works in real life. And don't get me started on the building aspect. I just want to shoot and run and hide, the idea of building walls and stairways as an effective combat strategy irks me, even in this cartoon world.

It is why the revelation came to me for the FPS game for olds, Fat Old n00b. I think there are enough of us that got started on Wolfenstien and Counter Strike that would still enjoy playing but don't want to have to twitch all the time.

(edit: Quake, not CounterStrike, memory not what it once was...)
posted by Meatbomb at 4:23 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


i want any Battle Royale game at all on a Venice map, with lots of boats, and mini coopers to drive on the stairs, and shootouts in the sumptuous abandoned homes of debauched aristocrats.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:14 PM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


Given how heavily streaming is involved in these games' popularity (and how important spectators are in the source materials these games derive from), I think the next big thing is going to be a game where the spectator mode is a core priority rather than an afterthought. Right now, you can watch an individual player streaming, but there's no way to easily switch between players or get a genuine overview of what's happening in the game. It's like watching a football game locked into a tight zoom around one player.
posted by Pyry at 9:38 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


The fact that Fortnite is able to cross the hardcore/casual divide is what is the most surprising about it for me. I haven't played it but it doesn't look like a "casual" game at all. Between the huge map, the fort building mechanic, all the different types of weapons, inventory management and so on it looks pretty intricate. I don't even understand how you can play that on an ios device and not get immediately pwned by a guy with a keyboard and a mouse.
posted by SageLeVoid at 5:03 AM on March 23, 2018


I have been playing PUBG Mobile for a week now and am hooked. I am an Old Gamer on Android whose laptop would overheat just looking up the specs for PC Fortnite, so for now it's my one option.

Things that I really like about PUBG:

* The default teams-of-four mode just feels right. You can survive solo, and often have to when your teammates all get pulped long before you ever catch sight of them, but it feels great when your team manages to arrive at one spot, everyone armed and ready, and you all pile into a vehicle and go roaming the countryside in search of truth and fun. Larger team games usually end up as "whichever side gets the least dead weight wins."

* The random factors. The map is set, what spawns where less so, and there are no respawns other than the occasional crate airdrops, so you have to make do with what you can find. No rushing to the spot where you know an M16 or a motorcycle will be sitting, and the map is large enough that even if you have a good idea about that others will likely beat you to it. The wandering play-area circles help keep you from camping in one place for too long and keep specific locations from always being the focus of activity.

Will I have an easy time early gathering supplies? Will I run into a tough player early and struggle to survive? Will my teammates be decent or hopeless? Will we work together or will I have to make do on my own? This helps make every game a bit unique.

* If you are new to the game, you will have a much easier time of it. This is because the game will match you with a server with more dim-witted bots as players, and gradually move you up into a more human-focused environment as your skill level increases. This is GREAT for those who are struggling with the interface and need a gradual curve to get better, rather than getting picked off immediately by veterans. (Though by the time you reach the end stage of any particular game, the bots will be long gone.)

* The simple goal -- kill or be killed -- with enough variance to allow for different playstyles. Some are aggressive and overrun opponents before they know what's happening. Some are snipers at heart, preferring to pick off players without being seen and move on. Some like to drive (and driving over people is often quite effective.) Some would rather crawl and sneak. The variety of weapons leaves you managing ammo as well as inventory space and adapting to what you salvage.

* If you screw up and get picked off, you can be in a new game in 60 seconds.

* No pay-to-win aspects (yet). No Steam marketplace giving incentives to cheat to win to get rare stuff to sell. Hopefully, that will help give cheaters not much reason to bother here.
posted by delfin at 5:41 AM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


A couple more:

* If I want to use voice chat, I can. If I want to use text chat, I can. If I just want to shoot things, I can without feeling like I'm gimping my team in any way. I can coordinate with teammates without having 14-year-olds yelping abuse in my ear. If I want to join a game while I'm sitting in a waiting room somewhere, I don't need a headset and a keyboard.

* Spectating your team after death. If I get snuffed and we're doing well, I can ride along with a teammate and see how it ends. In general, I can either learn from watching others play or laugh to myself at their derpitude.

* The "knocked out" versus "dead" mechanic. This is one area where coordinated team play can shine, where you can get a second chance quite often if you get ambushed and have a teammate nearby.

None of these are terribly revolutionary, I'm sure, but I haven't played multiplayer shoot-em-ups since Quake and Duke back in the day. PUBG feels like a FPS roguelike in some ways.
posted by delfin at 7:49 AM on March 23, 2018


I don't even understand how you can play that on an ios device and not get immediately pwned by a guy with a keyboard and a mouse.

The games are almost certainly segregated by platform. mobile plays against mobile, ps4 plays against ps4 etc.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:24 AM on March 23, 2018


The iOS app gives some small text notice that you are only playing with other mobile players, but damn they already seem to be amazingly good. Perhaps they are on tablet + using some bluetooth controller?
posted by ejoey at 8:45 AM on March 23, 2018


I think the next big thing is going to be a game where the spectator mode is a core priority rather than an afterthought

That reminded me of this recent RPS review: Premature Evaluation: Darwin Project
This is Darwin Project’s hook, and boy is it a good one. Every match has an 11th player, flitting around the battlefield in the shape of an omnipresent drone. The Director can go anywhere and follow anyone at the touch of a button, essentially becoming the ultimate spectator, but they can also guide the flow of a battle with an assortment of powerful abilities. [...] Twitch adds a whole new level to this. Viewers can vote on their favourite players, make suggestions to the Director and essentially participate in the game.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:43 PM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Given how heavily streaming is involved in these games' popularity (and how important spectators are in the source materials these games derive from), I think the next big thing is going to be a game where the spectator mode is a core priority rather than an afterthought. Right now, you can watch an individual player streaming, but there's no way to easily switch between players or get a genuine overview of what's happening in the game. It's like watching a football game locked into a tight zoom around one player.

I'm not convinced, because it seems obvious to me that the primary reason for the popularity of streaming is the human interaction with the broadcaster and their community that it affords to the viewer, rather than spectatorship of a particular game.
posted by walrus at 3:02 PM on March 23, 2018


Yeah, I decide something has reached cultural saturation when my nephew (13yo) starts raving about it. Right now he is very into Fortnite.

This is also how I get quite a lot of my news.
posted by colin.jaquiery at 4:15 PM on March 23, 2018


I am a bit odd in that I am not very interested in playing these types of games, but I watch streams of them regularly. As a viewer, I prefer PUBG. I think the shooting feels more satisfying in PUBG not only due to the higher skill level needed but also just in terms of the sounds/spatter. I also prefer the more realistic art style. From what I've gathered, cheating is only a real problem in third person in PUBG and the streamers I watch prefer first person perspective anyway so the games I watch are not plagued with cheating.

So far, the only thing I like better about Fortnite is the faster load-in to a game.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:27 PM on March 23, 2018


Hm, I wonder my 3rd person would have more cheaters? Just because it's been around longer?

I almost always play 1st person and I've only seen a few cases that I thought might be cheating, and they were subtle.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:08 AM on March 24, 2018


I prefer 3rd person PUBG, and yeah, the cheating is orders of magnitude worse than 1st person.

For one thing, 3rd person is more popular in general, so it kinda ends up being the default, even for cheaters.

Probably more importantly, being able to rotate your view 360 degrees quickly while watching for enemies from the safety of hard cover till you can strike makes many kinds of cheats much more effective (e.g. wallhack/esp cheats, as well as aimbots).
posted by tocts at 8:42 AM on March 24, 2018


Teachers and Parents Share Stories From Inside the 'Fortnite' Phenomenon (Patrick Klepek for Vice Waypoint, March 28, 2018) -- From prom invitations to confused girlfriends to shy kids becoming the center of attention, you don't understand how obsessed kids are with 'Fortnite.'

What is this thing? I am so an old.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on March 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I, too, prefer Fortnite because it's on PS4. If and when PUBG becomes available on PS4, I'll certainly give it a look.

I will say this: I absolutely HATE building/crafting-reliant games, but Fortnite's building mechanic is so simple it doesn't bother me.

Finally, I am horrible at this game, but it's still addictive. That's a neat trick.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2018


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