Part of my ambivalence towards the battle royale genre of games thus far is that I’m not particularly good at shooters. My aim has never been that sharp. In the case of Fortnite, I can’t wrap my head around the physical execution required to build walls and ramps at a competitive speed. Because of my inability to perform at a high level in those games, I felt like prey, just waiting for a hunter to gun me down. Regardless of how high I finish on the scoreboard, it almost always feels like a fraudulent result.
I may suck with a digital gun, but I can stack blocks with the best of them. Being able to leverage a lifetime of Tetris knowledge and skills in Tetris 99 has opened my mind to a new perspective on the genre.
In the span of three months, we got Tetris Effect and Tetris 99. The former is a euphoric synesthesia trip, while the latter is the most savage puzzle game ever conceived. At the core, they’re the exact same game.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the makers of the Titanfall series surprised the world with Apex Legends. No, this is not the next real entry in the Titanfall series. Instead, this is a standalone battle royale game in the vein of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
My initial reaction before playing the game was to groan at the notion of Respawn Entertainment putting the Titanfall series on hold to chase the trends. While this statement may be true, it doesn’t mean that Apex Legends can’t be a quality title in its own right. Based on my limited time with the game thus far, it may be too soon to brush this off as money grab.
I will never forget the first time I played Fortnite. Before I’d even landed on the ground, I saw the player tracker already starting to count down from 100. “Wow!” I thought. “This is my first game ever and I’m not gonna finish dead last!” Aimlessly wandering the hills, I kept the player tracker in my peripheral view. Minutes were passing, and I found myself alone as players continued to drop in the dozens. By the time I finally found another player and was disposed of, I finished the game in fourth place, even though I hadn’t killed anyone. In fact, I only fired one bullet by accident in that whole match. Having played a number of matches since then, and in spite of me getting at least a bit more familiar with how it works, I haven’t reached that plateau again.
There are a lot of great things to like about Fortnite. Players really enjoy the balance between shooting and building that the game provides. It has a distinct look that appeals to a wide audience. Epic Games’ support of the title is unmatched, from the implementation of the Battle Pass, to an ever-evolving world that players are invested in. But when I think about that game, I think about the disproportionate amount of skill and effort I’ve put into the game relative to my final placings. It got me to wonder, “How much does not finishing in last place influence the player base’s enjoyment of the game?”