Fortnite! It’s the game on everybody’s lips! Most notably the lips of every manic, Daily-Mail-reading mother who’d rather shriek the nearest passerby into oblivion than do a modicum of parenting. Yes, for the more weary millennials among us, Fortnite is nowadays nigh-unplayable because THE CHILDREN have seemingly found a way to consume it intravenously, which in turn has gotten all the parents all worried and all the toilet-roll media in a hysterical epidemic-screaming frenzy. Hooray.
Anyway, we’re not here to talk about that.
No, while I’ve had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with the lurching, foot-stomping, skyscraper-levelling behemoth that Fortnite has become, as I had PUBg before it, I’m actually here today to say something quite nice about it. How enormously contentious of me.
It’s not very often one can play a game and go; hold the goddamn phone, this is the next thing. We’ve hit the next rung on the ladder. This is going to change the way I live. Primarily because if you do that in public people tend to shift awkwardly away from you, but also because, well, save for the regular servings of ‘higher quality pixels’, and more processing power and the like, it’s very easy to feel like things have stagnated a bit.
My experiences with VR, particularly the Hive, have certainly caused me to speculate excitedly on the future… but VR is still a long way off becoming accessible enough to the average consumer that it can become intrinsic. Before that, perhaps Twitch and streaming was a significant new shake up that changed how we consume games… Before that I suppose I was very intrigued at the time by the prospect of the long since deceased Kinect, and what that could mean for gaming. But these instances of prevailing winds threatening to change are few and far between. When the Switch came along I was cautious, because Nintendo, but certainly excited about its potential; I did not think my first eureka moment on Switch would come with a game like Fortnite.
Now, let me just clarify. Fortnite alone didn’t make me say ‘hold the phone, blah blah blah’. I’ve played Fortnite on PC, PS4 and now Switch, and mostly it just makes me say ‘Oh great, a wall has appeared out of nowhere and now I am dead’. But when they did roll it out for the Switch after E3 the other week, and I sat down on my lunch to give it a quick whirl, I found myself doing something I’d sort of always dreamed of…
Like most of you, my game-playing friends and I have a Discord server, and as I jumped on to try Switch Fortnite, one such friend was available to join. So I whipped in a headphone and jumped into the Discord voice channel, we partied up in-game and began playing. And there it was. I was finally doing something that previously had absolutely required me to be tethered to a desk or the sofa, at home, something that took time and organisation to get everyone available for, something that I had never tried before: full blown third person shooter console quality online gaming with my friends, chatting over a headset, from wherever the hell I was. From the empty meeting room at work.
And yeah, this felt weirdly revolutionary.
In no small part this came down to just how well Fortnite plays on the switch. Even with just the Joycons or the Joycons slotted into the grip; it’s balanced and smooth and people can still build walls with infuriating ease at a moment’s notice. It feels very at home on the portable.
Coupled with a surprisingly stable online server and of course Discord’s god-send of a chat app, and man did I not expect to be this wide-eyed about gaming, one dreary lunch break in Barford on a Wednesday.
And sure, condemn me for getting carried away if you will; I probably am. But the prospect of a much more complete gaming experience, more portable than before is something that greatly appeals to me personally. Here’s hoping Nintendo continue to pull it off with the Switch, and if they don’t, Sony? That portable pedigree you’ve almost garnered over the years could supply a competitor perhaps?
More on gaming revolutions on Respawn soon folks! Oh, and the cover photo for this? Yeah, you can call me Captain Photoshop if you want – go on then you lucky thing you.