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Fortnite 50v50 is On to Something

I played the new "temporary" 50 vs. 50 Battle Royale mode tonight.  Before I tell you about my experiences, let me show you how they advertised it during the VGAs.

From the look of it, that's an awesome battle with two big forts and 50 players facing off another 50 in an all-out warfare.

Reality is slightly different and less... cool? But still very much a right way to go for the genre and the game.

In Battle Royale 50v50 you're playing the game 100% exactly like you would in a normal solo queue or squad game. You can fill a squad or not, and get dumped into a game. Where you bail, with or without your team or squad, is entirely up to you. How you guys organize is completely random.

If things happen like my first match, it's just the same mad dash for guns in the beginning, except half the people aren't trying to kill you -- just trying to get the guns first.

If things play out like my second game, eventually when it comes down to 25v25 or so you'll start to see bigger bases build up and the all-out mayhem begins. We won a round I played this evening where both side were racing toward the circle building walls and shooting at each other while we all ran for our lives. It was awesome!

What this mode showed me was that I really think the game needs an almost Battlefield-like mode where there's an area in the middle and the teams spawn on either side. Using building materials and forts you basically have to take over the middle and fight until you accrue points or the last man stands or something. This mode falls a bit flat due to still bailing out of the party bus and having to congregate.

Overall, a very cool mode that I enjoy A LOT more than solo or squad. I have a feeling this 'temporary' mode is here to stay.

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Fortnite Battle Royale is Gaining Steam

Despite a shaky start with a terrible single-player and a nervous PUBG rival, Fortnite appears to be gaining steam. Often the game is being viewed by more people on Twitch during prime time than PUBG (not always, but often), and is resonating more with younger players. My completely unscientific research data is a group of young teens from the youth group at church who can’t seem to get enough of it.

Fortnite BR is also receiving quite a few updates to gameplay that are continually improving the mechanics of combat and the flow of battle. Fortnite Battle Royale is a considerably better game than the version I played less than two months ago.

I just finished up a few matches this evening, and the meta for Fortnite’s BR is really starting to define itself. The building element — something I originally thought would just be a neat gimmick in BR — has expanded to a massive strategic component of every major match.

With Fortnite showing itself as a real competitor to the current juggernaut, and a rising star, I’m eager to see what this type of gameplay and meta does for up and coming BR games in development.

If you haven’t given it a shot, it’s pretty fun and worth experimenting with to see if the building meta, cartoony zany gameplay, and shooting mechanics strike your fancy.

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525k Concurrent Users Isn’t Bad…

Fascinating what a bit of internet drama can do for a dying game. 

Fortnite is currently (as of 6:32pm PT on 10/10/2017) the 8th game in terms of Twitch viewership. PUBG currently scoring 77,576 watching and Fortnite 18,890. 

Twitch viewers are hardly a metric to go by since they're dominated by brands in and of themselves -- brands of the streamers playing those games.

Fortnite announced that this past Sunday they achieved 525,000 concurrent users. That's really not bad at all for a game accused of being a copy cat and future thief.

PUBG still remains relatively unreachable. Just looking at these Steam numbers, PUBG secures a huge lead on the concurrent players.

Factor in that PUBG numbers are Steam only (PC) and Fortnite is on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, and you see PUBG has nothing to fear. Compound that with F2P vs. Paid entry, and it's a landslide in PUBG's favor. 

Still, 525k concurrent users. 

Epic has also announced improvements to the Unreal engine for games like these 100 player Battle Royale games -- all of them. A bit of a passive aggresive wink at Bluehole, who previously claimed Epic would keep the tech to themselves and even steal from PUBG's super secret engine tweaks.

I'm still blown away by the numbers. Neither of these games are THAT good.

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Bluehole vs. Epic: Unprofessional & Paranoid

I refrained from commenting (Twitter snark doesn't count) on this issue because I find the entire thing asinine, but since it continues and I needed a topic for today, let's do this.

Bluehole (PUBG Devs) released a press release -- yes, I got an actual email to my press email account -- stating the following:

“We’ve had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG’s development as they are the creators of UE4, the engine we licensed for the game,” said Chang Han Kim, Vice President and Executive Producer for Bluehole, Inc. “After listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known.”

“Other companies will, of course, enter the marketplace, but I would just hope they put their own spin on the game mode and not just make a carbon copy!”

Couple of things.

Willy Wonka Unique Idea Meme

I find it a little ridiculous to publish a press release calling someone out for copying your game (especially when your game is a Battle Royale clone itself).

This is the video game industry. Just spend 10 minutes looking at the RPG, Shooter, FPS, and RTS genres. Seriously.

What was PUBG's "own spin" that made it more unique? Does Fortnite's building mechanic not count?

Now we have an interview with PC Gamer that C.H. Kim did with PC Gamer where Bluehole takes a different approach.

C.H. Kim: So the first thing that I’d like to clarify is that this is not about the battle royale game mode itself. There were other BR gamemodes earlier this year that were released, like last man standing or GTA 5’s battle royale game mode, and we never raised an issue, and I think it’s great that there’s more competition and everyone should be able to create their own battle royale game mode, and it’s not about the idea itself, it’s about Epic Games, and that wasn’t really clear [in the press release].

Willy Wonka Smarmy Grin

Uhh huhhh, sure. It gets better, too. 

“We’re going to get some technical support [from Epic], and we’re going to work with them to make sure Unreal Engine better supports battle royale gameplay which requires 100 people in one session, and now we’re starting to have concerns that they’re going to develop new features or improve something in the engine to support that battle royale gameplay, and then use it for their own game mode.” […]

“We could be afraid when we make new features in the engine by modifying it internally, that is not already available and public, that feature could be leaked, or other things could happen.”

Do you REALLY believe that Epic, one of the biggest engine licencors in the entire business, would do that? REALLY?

Epic has been licensing their engine for so long, making plenty of  titles that compete with their customers, and I have never heard of any reports of them ever saying, "Ohhh look they made tweaks to the engine let's leak it to the world or use it to make our game better just to put them under."

Why would Epic sabotage their core business model to act in any way that would violate their contractual agreement with a company licensing their engine?

I'm not a lawyer, but if I were one at Epic I would be chomping at the bit right now. This feels dangerously close to slander for overtly implying that Epic would use its license agreements to ruin other companies. Again, it's damaging to Epic's core business model.

Bluehole is paranoid, delusional, and behaving so unprofessional. They're digging themselves into a hole and opening the door for issues that would have never existed. Their fans could have done all the defending for them.

PUBG is a fantastic game. They did a great job. It has quality issues, and a whole lot of jank, but the game is good.

Fortnite (PvE) is absolute crap. I found it lacking in fun, and full of tedium. Their Battle Royale PvP mode is much more fun, and they openly admit to be inspired by PUBG. I played it, and found it very much a Battle Royale / PUBG clone. Will it in any way pull from PUBG? I can't see any reason why.

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Fortnite PUBG-Like Battle Royale is F2P September 26

Fortnite's PUBG is going F2P on September 26. Their original plan was to make the entire Fortnite game F2P after selling early-access founders packs. And yes, in case you're confused, they also sold physical copies of the game as well. How that makes sense for a game going F2P is really beyond me, but that's our industry today.

Epic Games is pivoting pretty fast. They're moving away from the base game (which sucks) toward the PUBG-Like Battle Royale game which actually has a lot more potential. It's smart.

According to the official release, squad mode is also coming 9/26. That's pretty cool.

Some of my early feedback of the "test" version is:

  • The maps needs more development because it feels sparse and empty (though I get it's meant to be built up in a way)
  • Vehicles would be fun (and are being conceptualized by the dev team)
  • I want the map bigger if there will be vehicles and if parachuting remains the same where you travel further horizontally
  • More maps and variety would be nice too which would be a welcome change over PUBG's static map
  • More gun variety would be nice, and some sort of addon system to the guns to provide more depth to gun-play

Their F2P model will be rather simple at start. The game will actually be 100% free. No strings, no box price (on pc only?), no consumables. Nothing. In the future, cosmetics will be added, but they're promising  "no gameplay advantage will be sold." 

I like it. I've been having fun. If anyone wants to jump in on 9/26, I would use a squad to play with instead of going at it alone.

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