Archive | October 2018

Fortnite. Epic Games, worthy title.

Please Note: this column was originally published in the Centralian Advocate on 11 September 2018. 

Advocate Column – Fortnite’s Popularity PDF

Fortnite and its Battle Royale mode could easily be considered a phenomenon, its popularity was almost unprecedented and the growing game set all kinds of sales and player-count records, this is known as amount of ‘concurrent’ players.

At Fortnite’s highest peak of popularity in the West, the game had a whopping 3.4 Million players at playing one time. For a comparison, the next highest concurrent shooter was PUBG on 3.2 Million players, FIFA 18 had 1.6 Million at it’s peak and Destiny 2 set a record at 1.2 Million concurrent players.

It is pretty clear that Fortnite has boomed into popularity around the world. In the month of May alone the game generated $318 million (May was the most recent official calculations). In February, March and April, Fortnite generated $126 million, $223 million and $296 million respectively. It’s growing! At the time of writing, the company that make the game, Epic Games is valued at $14 billion. Wrap you head around that!

Fortnite was released as an Early Access title in July of 2017 – at that time only the ‘Save the World’ mode was available, which is a Tower-Defence type of game with crafting and building. The thing that launched Fortnite into polarising popularity was the juggernaut ‘Battle Royale’ mode, which came a bit later in September 2017.

The Battle Royale mode is a fairly straightforward premise with a lot of promise and potential; 100 players will parachute onto an island and fight the other 99 opponents until there is only 1 survivor, the victor. Think the Hunger Games movies. During gameplay, players control their character from a third person perspective, which gives players a more open view of their surroundings – which is a great benefit when you need to look out for so many opponents! The shooting mechanics are fine, it’s not a realistic setting, so the guns don’t have a lot of detail and are fairly generic. Players fight each other with guns or melee weapons however; an integral part of the game is finding those different tiers of weapons and armour before engaging in battle. It adds an interesting risk & reward system where players need to assess whether they have good enough gear for encounters or whether they need to keep searching. Sometimes you don’t have a choice though – if you’ve come across an opponent in the same building, well only one player walks out alive.

For a game that is so popular, following the history of Fortnite can be tricky, a game that not only had an ‘early access’ option for gamers, it’s also actually packaged as two separate experiences. I’ll briefly try explain early access; which is a demo build of a game that developers will release ahead of the official release. There are numerous reasons developers open their game to ‘early access’, including testing online functionality and online servers, balancing the games systems and in this case, to allow the developers to release Fortnite as to separate experiences.

Why Fortnite is so successful comes down to a few reasons; firstly, it is a Free-To-Play game, gamers can download and start enjoying the game at no cost. Secondly, the ‘loot’ (or rewards) are purely cosmetic, meaning there is no performance advantage to rewards – just cool apparel and accessories, this keeps the game even and fair. Thirdly, the game has ‘seasons’ which run for 10 weeks at a time, and usually there are exclusive rewards tied directly to a season, which makes it special and unique. The rewards have different tiers and different types of challenges for different rewards, which is a huge motivation for players to continue to the chase each season.

Fortnite is well worth anyone’s time, it is hard to find reasons not to play; the game is free, it’s accessible without being too intrusive and all your friends are playing it. Fortnite is an enjoyable game with a rewarding gameplay loop that can keep you busy for a long time.

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Overcooked – prepare for the sequel.

{Please Note this column was originally published early August 2018 ahead of Overcooked 2’s release} 

Advocate Column – Overcooked Review

With Overcooked 2 around the corner, please read my thoughts on the first game!

Overcooked is an arcade fun experience all about cooking in challenging kitchens with friends! The game is full of tricky twists and turns that keeps the fun fresh (but not so much the produce). As you might imagine you take on the role of a chef in a variety of kitchens, you need to chop ingredients, cook and serve while following a recipe and avoiding obstacles.

Overcooked was first released on 3 August 2016 on PS4, Xbox One and Windows and 27 July 2017 for Nintendo Switch. And more than 2 years after its original release Overcooked 2 will be coming out on 7 August this year!

In Overcooked players receive a score based on their performance during the timed cooking challenge – try and imagine a restaurant at its busiest point and the mayhem that would unfold in the kitchen. If you’re making a burger and you forget the lettuce you will be penalised, creating a soup that is missing potato – blasphemy! Players will want to create as many dishes as possible as quickly as possible to keep up with the orders and if you miss one, another penalty will occur.

Overcooked Gameplay

As a master chef in Overcooked you need to make the perfect dishes and a lot of that relies on juggling tasks that take different amounts of time. If you need to make a soup with potato and pumpkin, you’ll have to chop both of the ingredients and start to cook them at the same time on the stove, but to be efficient you might want to prepare more ingredients while the soup is cooking – watch out though, if food burns it could start a fire and burn the whole kitchen!

Overcooked is a game that is best enjoyed with other people; the gameplay elements have been cleverly crafted to incorporate cooperation between players. Players won’t be facing the cooking challenges in regular kitchens either, the types of places you will have to manage a kitchen are wild and often very unusual, including an freezing cold sailing ship which caused players to slip and slide.

The map variety is one of the strongest parts of Overcooked, as mentioned before you will be cooking on sailing ships; some ships aren’t frozen but rock side to side with the ocean which causes the kitchen benches you prepare food to slide around unstably. Another map will have you cooking on the back of two trucks driving directly alongside each other down the highway – occasionally the trucks have to split to avoid traffic, splitting the kitchen up. There are also a variety of hazards that add to the challenges, including rats that steal ingredients or a conveyer belt that moves produce around the kitchen.

Overcooked is a truly fun game, it’s an arcade experience that focuses on funny, exciting, sometimes thrilling moments and it really pays off. Get 4 friends together with 4 controllers and you have a good time sorted.