Video Games

Fortnite is Getting Jetpacks and I Just Don’t Know About This!

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If rumors are to be believed – and if I have learned anything in my 46 years on this planet, it is that you should ALWAYS believe in rumors! – then jetpacks will be making an appearance in the so-popular-you-would-think-it’s-good game Fortnite: Battle Royale.

I am not here to speculate on whether this item actually will be available in the game – this is not the first time jetpacks have been teased, so you know they are coming eventually – and I don’t plan on guessing if they will be a permanent or temporary addition.

Nah – I’m just here to pull one of these:

It could just be me – maybe I am the only one who finds Battle Royale to be fun, but not worth the hype. I mean, in all honesty, I get way more enjoyment out of playing Overwatch or Call of Duty: WWII. Even Titanfall 2 gave me way more entertainment value than Battle Royale, although I absolutely commend Epic Games for consistently trying to provide variety, in terms of both gameplay and cosmetic items.

It could be the repetitive nature of the game – whether you are playing solo, duo, squad, or one of the limited-time only modes, you find yourself on the same map trying to accomplish the exact same objective every single time – and I am sure my kids will argue that the fact that I am just an average Battle Royale player has something to do with my refusal to justify people playing this game for ten hours straight (although to be honest, when it comes to first person shooters I have always been one of those good-but-not-great kind of players).

Whatever the reason, I am just a casual fan of Fortnite: Battle Royale, and actually feel LESS inclined to play the game the more they tinker with it. The “everything and kitchen sink” approach the developers take with the game might make the writers over at Polygon and Kotaku gush about how amazing the game is, but it sort of makes me want to play less, if we’re being honest. That feeling started with the addition of remote-controlled rockets (which have since been removed) and culminated with the Infinity Gauntlet mode, which really added nothing to the game for me and was the sort of cheap promotional stunt that would have made everyone cringe if a less popular game had attempted it.

Now we’re getting jetpacks, because . . . I don’t know. There really is nothing about the world of Fortnite: Battle Royale that would explain the inclusion of jetpacks, and the recent meteor shower that kicked off season 4 has given players the ability to bust out some gravity-defying jumps (and even these don’t really need to be in the game, but hey: superheroes!), so why do we need jetpacks now?

Because . . . jetpacks!

I’m all for new, free content, but I cannot be the only one who would rather see some new maps and different game modes instead of little gimmicks like jetpacks. For example: why not a melee-weapons only mode, which would definitely make the game feel more Hunger Games-ish? Or, if Epic Games wants to tease the superhero theme in Season 4, why not actually provide a super-hero mode in which players can either use futuristic weapons or actually develop super powers for a limited time only? Any of those tweaks would make more sense, and fit the game world better, than simply throwing jetpacks into the mix because hey . . . jetpacks!

Video Games

Know What Your Kids Are Playing: Fortnite


God I hate Fortnite and it’s infuriating Battle Royale mode.

There: I said it. And I mean it, too – at least half the time, that is.

Sure, sure – I play it enough.  I’ve logged over 150 matches (a lot for a guy who can only touch his Xbox One controller on the weekends), and at this point it feels as if there are only two reasons I power up my Xbox One S: to watch 4k movies, and to play Battle Royale.

There is something about playing Battle Royale that keeps me coming back, despite the fact that all of my matches end with me wanting to hurl my controller across the room.  The fact that winning a game means you outlasted 99 other players is hella enticing, for one thing. Playing duos or squad mode with your friends is also a ton of fun (even though the only “friends” I have played alongside are my two sons and a twelve year-old girl who happens to be my oldest son’s closest friend).  And the fact that the game continues to offer special events such as Sniper Shootout (sniper rifles and pistols being the only weapons available) and the current High Explosive v2 event, in which everyone is scrambling to find rocket launchers and other items that make your opponents go BOOM, suck you back in even after you feel as if the game has grown a bit stale.

Now, I want you to think about what I have said so far: I, a 46 year-old father of three, keep getting sucked back into Fortnite’s ridiculously addictive Battle Royale mode.  I have squeezed in games during lunch.  I often play it after putting the kids to bed.  Hell, I may have even worked in a few games while I was supposed to be writing this – all in the name of research, mind you.

And I am forty six. I should know better!

Actually, I do know better, which is why I only play Fortnite during lunch, or when the kids are asleep and my duties as a husband, father and home owner have been completed (well, at least 75% of those duties!).  Most young kids, however, DON’T know better, which is why they try to sneak in a game or two while their father is upstairs helping a little girl take a shower, or junior high school students are sending my son game invites as soon as they get home from school, or why high school students who have downloaded the mobile version of the game onto their iPhones (thanks, Epic Games) are constantly trying to sneak matches in when they are in class.

Look: there is nothing terribly wrong with the game.  Sure, the object is to kill (or at the very last, outlast) the other players, so there are shotguns, assault rifles, rocket launchers and the like – but the violence is muted by the cartoonish-look of the game design and the fact that there is no blood.   There is no offensive material whatsoever, because there is no plot or content in the game outside of 100 players being dropped onto an island in a battle royale.  Compared to other games that I currently will not let anyone in my family play, games rated M for Mature such as Grand Theft Auto V or Resident Evil Biohazard, Fortnite is a harmless diversion that is fun to play with good friends. . .

. . . but as with a lot of parenting I am witnessing any more, something that can be harmless in little doses is not being monitored, and is in fact becoming harmful because of the huge time commitment that kids are investing in it.  No, this is not a post that would idiotically argue that violent games create violent kids.  I don’t have enough evidence to argue either side of that conversation, so I won’t insult your intelligence by trying.

Still, I don’t need research to tell you that games like Fortnite can be almost as addictive as the world’s most powerful drugs.  I see the effect this game has on my kids, and believe me when I say this: if left unchecked, my two sons would play this game from dawn until dusk.  My twelve year-old literally loses track of time while playing, often arguing with me that he has only been online for a few minutes when he has already exceeded an hour of gameplay.  Meanwhile, my seven year-old has been known to raid the pantry in between matches, so it is not too hard to envision him playing all day, substituting snack runs for actual meals.

And don’t even get me started on the rage-quitting this game WILL cause in your child after he gets shotgunned from some player camping behind a wall, or killed by a trap he never saw, or dies because his teammates didn’t follow the gameplan. If you want your mild-mannered kid to develop some anger management issues, let him spend five hours a day playing this baby!

If you’re thinking to yourself, “What’s the big deal?  I used to spend hours playing with friends outside, or building LEGOS, or . . . ” just stop right there. Pretty much anything you and I spent hours doing years ago was good for us.  Playing outside?  It’s called exercise. Building LEGOS?  Playing with dinosaurs, or action figures?  That’s called being creative and using your imagination.  Playing board games?  That’s called actual face-to-face human interaction.

And NONE of these things are what your kids are doing when they spend hours staring at a screen.

No one is saying you can’t let your kids have some video game time, but know what you are up against and make sure you act like a parent, not your kid’s buddy.  Fortnite is super popular right now, and it’s easy to see why, but there are way better things can be doing for hours at a time.  Set a timer, then hide the remotes and make your kid unplug for a while.  You’re welcome.