While superhero movies have provided some of the most thrilling entertainment experiences of the new century, comic book video games have been less successful. Admittedly, the “Spider-Man” franchise is an exception but it’s a life raft in an ocean of mediocre games. However, Epic Games proved superhero action can be successfully translated to gaming with its new “Fortnite X Avengers: Endgame” event.
Thanos vs. Everyone
Whereas most superhero games waste time on tedious world-building, “Fortnite’s” new limited-time crossover throws players right into the action. “Endgame” mode is a 20-on-20 battle royale that features key items from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Mirroring the plot of the newly released fourth “Avengers” film, the event requires players to uncover six powerful Infinity Stones.
Heroes can equip themselves with Captain America’s shield, Hawkeye’s bow, Thor’s ax, and Iron Man’s gauntlets to battle evil. Conversely, players with more villainous inclinations can assume the role of the Chitauri. With powerful blasters and unlimited fuel jet packs, the cybernetic baddies are challenging antagonists. Furthermore, the first Chitauri soldier to make contact with an Infinity Stone turns into Thanos.
As the Mad Titan, players have a massive health bar, terrifying speed, and a devastating energy blast. As a nod to his cinematic counterpart, the “Fortnite” incarnation of Thanos is extremely formidable. Additionally, once the genocidal villain enters “Fornite,” the game gets much harder for Team Humanity.
The supervillain’s presence opens the field to more Chitauri and as he assembles his gauntlet, the heroes lose their infinite respawn capability. At that point, the game begins to feel like the third act to an “Avengers movie.” Eventually, 20 or fewer heroes will try to acquire the remaining, randomly dropped Stones before 100 bloodthirsty monsters do.
“Fortnite X Avengers: Endgame” has won rave reviews from The Verge and Rock Paper Shotgun and neither assessment is hyperbolic. The limited-time event is easily the best and most immersive superhero gaming experience of the year, and possibly the decade.
Does Fortnite Need an Overhaul?
Although Fortnite’s new superhero crossover mode is an awesome jumping on point for new players, veteran gamers have been vocally dissatisfied with the popular title.
Earlier this year, Epic controversially removed a mechanic called siphoning from “Fortnite.” The feature allowed players to acquire health, material, and shields from opponents they killed. The developer’s move frustrated many gamers who took to social media to express their anger. However, Epic didn’t comment on the revision or the reaction to it until late last week.
In a blog post, the company explained siphoning, initially intended for competitive play, caused problems when implemented through the game. The firm also noted the aggression-enhancing mechanic was hugely popular among 10 percent of “Fortnite” players. But it made the game too intense for the other 90 percent. So, to keep casual gamers from dropping the title, the studio deleted the feature in a recent update.
While Epic’s changes seem totally understandable, some eSports players have stated they’re dropping the game because of the update. The University of George’s competitive “Fortnite” team won the championship at this weekend’s Collegiate Starleague finals. During their victory speech, winners Jack Stuttard and Ibrahim Diaz slammed Epic for changing their best-selling title. The pair also announced their retirement from playing the battle royale game competitively.
The schism between hardcore and casual “Fortnite” players represents a major issue for Epic. The developer needs to keep its flagship game accessible to the 200 million people who made it a billion dollar hit. But the studio also wants to see a return on its $100 million investment in eSports.
Though Epic has a well-earned reputation for innovation, it’ll be tough for the company to balance the needs and wants of two very different audiences.