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Magic: The Gathering Pro Uses Victory To Spotlight Hong Kong, Is Not Banned

At this weekend’s Magic: The Gathering Mythic Championship, pro Lee Shi Tian used his moment in the spotlight to draw attention to the protests in his hometown of Hong Kong.

Tian entered the tournament stage wearing red scarf over his face, indicating his support for the pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong. (Protesters in Hong Kong wear masks to obscure their identity from government surveillance and stay safe from tear gas.) Tian was also covering one of his eyes like an eye patch—another symbol of the resistance.

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Running a highly aggressive red deck, Tian was one of the few top players in the tournament who swerved away from the dominant decks in the format: predominantly green and blue-based strategies dependent on ramping up to bigger creatures and effects. The popular deck type is so oppressive that some believe one of its key cards, Field of the Dead, will be banned today. Tian’s deck is only part of what made his win against Carlos Romao and entry into the Mythic Championship’s Top 8 so exciting:

In an emotional interview after his victory, Tian explained, “Life has been very tough in my hometown in Hong Kong.” Apparently overwhelmed with emotion, Tian added, “It feels so good to play as a free man!”

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On October 8, Hearthstone publisher Blizzard suspended Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai after he voiced his support for Hong Kong on stream. Citing a Hearthstone esports rule, Blizzard also pulled his prize money. The punishment, which many consider overly harsh, spurred a huge backlash against Blizzard and resulted in a significant movement to boycott the company and its games.

Days later, Blizzard reduced Chung’s suspension from one year to six months and returned his prize money, but the damage was done: Fans are furiously suspending their subscriptions to Blizzard games, protests are being planned ahead of Blizzcon, and senators like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ron Wyden penned a stern letter asking Blizzard to reverse their decision.

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One other result of Blizzard’s punishment was popular Hearthstone caster Brian Kibler announcing he would no longer be involved in the digital card game’s Grandmasters competition. He said, “The heavy-handedness of it feels like someone insisted that Blizzard make an example of Blitzchung, not only to discourage others from similar acts in the future but also to appease those upset by the outburst itself.” Kibler, who made a name for himself as a top Magic : The Gathering player, casted the weekend’s Magic: The Gathering Mythic Tournament.

One tweet following the tournament suggested that Twitch mods for the tournament did not remove mentions of Hong Kong from chat, and Kotaku has reached out to the original source for verification of this. After his loss to pro Gabriel Nassif, Tian wrote on Twitter, “Thanks everyone supported me, Hong Kong, freedom of speech and democracy I saw the Twitch chat and I heard it. It has been a tough period for me but it also motivated me to shine brighter.”

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: Outta This World

The Outer Worlds comes out this week. For many fans, this is the true follow-up to Fallout New Vegas they’ve been waiting for. But it isn’t the only big and exciting game coming out this week. Get ready folks, it’s a busy week!

I have constantly mixed up The Outer Worlds and Outer Wilds when talking about these games with other writers at Kotaku. It doesn’t help that they are both games set in space and both are part of Xbox Game Pass. One day my brain will get this figured out, but for now, I have to double-check if I’m referencing the right game every time I write about it.

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As mentioned earlier, this is a busy week with games for everyone across all platforms. The Outer Worlds comes out this week, of course, but we also get some other big games. For wrestling fans, WWE 2K20 comes out this week. (Though that game sounds like a mess this year.) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare comes out this week too, with PS4 and Xbox One cross-play available right at launch. Wild! And for fans of remakes of old games, MediEvil comes out this week too for PS4.

And still, other stuff is coming out this week! Check out the list below:

Monday, October 21

  • Eastshade | PS4, Xbox One
  • Monaco: Complete Edition | Switch
  • The Forgettable Dungeon | PC
  • Mystery At Stonyford Bridge | PC
  • Mahjong Royal Towers | PC
  • ED-IT | PC
  • Return Of The Zombie King | PC
  • Zyxia: Neon Termination | PC

Tuesday, October 22

  • Street Outlaws: The List | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Beholder 2 | PS4
  • Mary Skelter 2 | Switch
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel III | PS4
  • WWE 2K20 | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Destiny Connect: Tick-Tock Travelers | PS4, Switch
  • Raging Loop | PS4, Switch
  • Skulllgirls 2nd Encore | Switch
  • Moons Of Madness | PC
  • Spin Rhythm XD | PC, Mac
  • Day And Night | Switch
  • Tangle Tower | Switch
  • The Park | Switch
  • PBA Pro Bowling | Switch
  • Knight Swap | PC, Mac
  • Flatland Vol.1 | PC
  • Outscape | PC

Wednesday, October 23

  • Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient | PC
  • Dredgers | PC
  • Norman’s Night In | PC
  • Dungeon Explorer | PC
  • House Of 1000 Doors: The Palm Of Zoroaster | PC

Thursday, October 24

  • Dark Devotion | PS4, Switch
  • Cat Quest II: The Lupus Empire | PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Ghost Blade HD | Switch
  • Door Kickers: Action Squad | PS4
  • Lethis – Path Of Progress | Switch
  • Creepy Brawlers | Switch
  • OxLOGIC PUZZLE 1000! | Switch
  • Haunted Halloween 95 | Switch
  • Dark Veer | Switch
  • Anthill | Switch
  • Winter Sports Games | Switch
  • Vortex Attack EX | Switch
  • Rise Of The Slime | PC
  • Potion Paws | PC, Mac
  • Alpha | PC

Friday, October 25

  • Pixel Gladiator | Xbox One, Switch
  • Into The Dead 2 | Switch
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • The Outer Worlds | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • MediEvil | PS4
  • Soul Searching | Switch
  • Pizza Bar Tycoon | Switch
  • Ultra Off-Road 2019: Alaska | Switch
  • Let’s Sing Country | Switch
  • It Will Find You | PC
  • Space Road | PC
  • Survival Vacancy | PC, Mac
  • Coloring Game: Pixel | PC

Saturday, October 26

  • Daylife In Japan – Pixel Art Jigsaw Puzzle | PC

Sunday, October 27

  • Space Space | PC
  • Il Sole e la Luna 2 | PC

Source: Kotaku.com

A Lot Of Work Went Into Creating Over 5000 Gun Sounds For Borderlands 3

The Borderlands series has always been known for having billions of guns, with each gun randomly generated. But all of these weapons also make noises when they shoot, like the loud crack of sniper or the blast of a rocket launcher. And as explained by the senior sound designer at Gearbox, Joshua Davidson, it took a lot of work to create over 5000 gun sounds for Borderlands 3.

In the older games, like Borderlands 2, Gearbox was limited by how much memory the consoles had. These limits forced the developer to limit how many gun noises could be shipped with the game. In Borderlands 2, Joshua Davidson estimates there were only about 350 individual weapon sounds. So when you picked up a Jakobs pistol, it didn’t matter if it was long, short, big, or small it would sound basically the same as any other Jakobs pistol.

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In Borderlands 3, thanks to more powerful consoles, the team was able to implement many more sounds, with Davidson estimating over 5,500 individual sounds were created and shipped with the game.

The system for creating unique and different gun sounds for each randomly generated weapon in Borderlands 3 is very similar to how guns themselves are put together. As explained by Davidson in a video on his personal YouTube channel, each gun in Borderlands is made up of various parts. These parts can be combined into millions and millions of different weapons. To create the sound system, Davidson and the sound team “piggybacked” on the weapon part system. They linked different sounds to different parts. So if a sniper rifle had a long, plasma barrel on it, then it would sound different than a sniper with a short, laser barrel.

The end result of all this work and over 5000 sound files is that each weapon you pick up in Borderlands 3 will often sound different than a similar weapon you might already have. This helps make each weapon feel unique and interesting.

The full video is filled with a lot of behind the scenes information about creating sounds for a big video game like Borderlands 3. It might be a bit too technical for most folks, myself included. But it is still amazing to get a peek behind the curtain of how massive and complicated video games are made.

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Davidson also has some other videos on his channel showcasing how other parts of Borderlands 3 and its sound design were created.

Source: Kotaku.com

HONK! Someone Modded The Goose Into Resident Evil 2

The goose, star of the mega-popular Untitled Goose Game, is now ready to honk and annoy the stars of Resident Evil 2. Thanks to talented modder Alister, the goose is on the loose in Raccoon City. God help us all.

The mod is not yet finished, but the final version will include honks. Also, you might have noticed that the goose is wearing Mr. X’s famous fedora. According to the modder, this won’t be changed when the mod is finished.

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“He’s keeping the Fedora because he is just so Fancy like that,” said Alister. I agree. Besides who is going to actually try to take that hat from that giant goose? Not me, that’s for sure.

The goose is not the first strange new character to be added into Resident Evil 2 via modding. Others have included Big Smoke from San Andreas and Thomas The Tank Engine. Poor Claire and Leon. They never know what to expect anymore.

Source: Kotaku.com

A Mom Rates All The Characters In Fire Emblem: Three Houses Based On Their Looks

I don’t know much about the Fire Emblem series, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying a Twitter thread that has recently gone viral. Created by Twitter user eiouna, the thread is all about their mom and what she thinks of all the men featured in the most recent Fire Emblem game, Three Houses. The thread is a wonderful journey.

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As with many of the best Twitter threads, it starts out with a simple but interesting setup. Eiouna is going to ask their mother to rate the men in the game based solely on their looks.

The mother’s opinions on the various characters are hilarious and possibly accurate? I have no idea, I don’t know these characters. But they just feel right, you know?

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But the best part of the thread is when the mother starts to include more personal elements from eiouna’s life.

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We’ve all been there. Your parent is supposed to be talking about something else but somehow finds a way to include some embarrassing moment or conversation from YOUR life into the story.

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But like most moms, she cares greatly about her child. This reminds me of when I talk to my mom and she hears me cough and askes if I’m sick. Every time.

Oh and eventually, once they were done rating all the men, her mom started rating all the women in the game too!

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The whole thread is great and worth reading, especially if you know who all these characters are and what they are really like. Let me and other non-FE players know in the comments below if this mother’s ratings are accurate. I’m very curious to know!

Source: Kotaku.com

Ranking Every Plant In Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Based On Tastiness

Plants Vs Zombies: Battle For Neighborville is filled with zombies and plants, as the name suggests. They fight each other for control of the world. Plants wanting to protect humans and zombies wanting to eat humans and their brains. Speaking of eating…

I appreciate everything the plants have done for us humans, protecting us from deadly zombies and various zombie built machines. Very thankful. But I’m also a human and I need to eat and many of these plants are edible. So I decided to rank each plant featured in Battle For Neighborville according to how tasty they are and if they are even edible at all.

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I’m not raking the zombies because they aren’t edible. I mean, I wouldn’t eat a zombie. Would you? (I hope not.)

10 – Oak & Acorn

According to some quick research, acorns are not safe to eat raw. However, you can eat them if you prepare them properly. But I’ve never eaten an acorn. Maybe they taste great? There is one guy who is trying to make acorns popular and someone else has created acorn crackers. They don’t look very tasty.

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The real reason Oak & Acorn are at number 10 on this list is because of the big oak tree. Players can switch between either during gameplay. Oak looks cool and is use useful in combat, but I wouldn’t eat him. I doubt bark tastes very good. You could burn him and cook something on the flame, but beyond that, I don’t think the oak tree belongs in cooking.

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9 – Chomper

Chomper is a fast-moving plant that can burrow underground and attack zombies from below like a shark. Chompers seems inspired by a Venus Fly Trap. So can you eat a Venus Fly Trap? Probably. Should you? No. You shouldn’t. For one thing, they are endangered and might go extinct in the future. For another thing, according to someone on Quora, if you eat one it will grow inside you. Is that person just joking? Maybe…but do you want to risk it?

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8 – Snapdragons

Snapdragons are a real plant, though they don’t have dragon heads attached to them like in the game. They also don’t breathe fire. Honestly, it seems like PVZ developers PopCap needs to do more research. As for edibility, Snapdragons are edible flowers. But according to the internet, they aren’t very tasty compared to other edible flowers. But they also won’t poison you, so that’s a point in its favor.

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7 – Rose

I had to ask for some help making this list. As has been documented on this very site, I’m not the healthiest eater in the world. So I consulted my girlfriend and her experience eating stuff like roses! I didn’t know people eat roses, but she has had roses in tea and liked the taste. I like tea, maybe I’ll add some rosebuds to it next time.

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6 – Sunflower

In PVZ:BFN, Sunflowers are healers that provide plants with bits of the sun to help them stay alive during combat. Sunflower seeds are tasty and definitely edible, but I was surprised to learn that sunflowers are completely edible. Not just the seeds. Every part of a sunflower can be eaten and according to the internet, they taste nice as well.

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5 – Cactus

The cactus is one of my favorite plants to play as in PVZ:BFN. They are a fast-moving sniper with a very useful onion drone. (This is a weird game.) But in real life, I didn’t love the taste of cactus. But I didn’t hate it either. Furthermore, cactus seems really healthy and can potentially lower your cholesterol. Thanks, cactus! Not only are you a powerful sniper who protects humans, but when you die and get eaten by those humans, you help them fight cholesterol. What a hero!

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4 – Night Cap

Night Cap might be one of the coolest plants in the new PVZ game. I never expected a mushroom to translate so perfectly into a fast-moving and stealthy ninja, but there you go. Loads of people eat mushrooms and depending on how they are cooked, I can enjoy some mushrooms too. However, I have no idea what kind of mushroom Night Cap is and so they might not be safe to eat. Considering in the game Night Cap can throw mysterious bubbles made out strange spores, I might skip eating it.

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3 – Peashooter

Peas are totally fine. Maybe this is controversial to say, but I don’t think peas are great. I’ll eat them, sure, but I’m not excited about peas. In a soup or part of a big meal, I’ll chow down on some peas. But alone, I’ll probably pass on peas. The Peashooter itself is technically edible, but according to my research would probably be too tough and stringy to enjoy.

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2 – Citron

I grew up in Florida and developed a taste for Oranges back when I was very young. Orange juice is wonderful and one of my favorite drinks to have in the morning. So it should come as no surprise that Citron, a giant orange, makes it so high up on my list of edible PVZ plants. Oranges are super tasty and also can provide extra flavor to different deserts and meals. None of my oranges ever shoot lasers, but maybe I’m just not buying the right oranges.

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1 – Kernel Corn

Corn is good. Not a controversial opinion, I know. But corn is easily my favorite food on this list. It can be popped, creamed, cooked on a cob, frozen, made into bread or puffed. Plus Kernel Corn in the game is a great attacker who I use a lot. And let’s be honest, that name is great and worth some bonus points.

Source: Kotaku.com

Vampire: The Masquerade-Swansong Coming In 2021

Big Bad Wolf Studios, the developers behind the narrative RPG The Council, has partnered with White Wolf and Paradox to create a new game set in The World Of Darkness tabletop universe. This new game, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong will release in 2021 and will be based on Vampire’s fifth edition tabletop rules and mechanics.

In Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, players will be able to take control of three different vampires. Using these different characters, players will have to figure out the truth behind murders, conspiracies and other vampire shenanigans.

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Last year, Big Bad Wolf Studios released The Council, an episodic RPG with a big focus on narrative. It seems this new Vampire title will be a lot like The Council, according to a press release about the game.

The new game was announced at PDXCON, where Paradox Interactive also announced a bunch of other stuff. This other stuff included Crusader Kings III and huge list of new expansions for games like Prison Architect and Battletech.

Source: Kotaku.com

Duskull Loves The Sound Of Crying Children

Every Pokemon is interesting and worth talking about. I don’t play a ton of Pokemon, but I do enjoy the universe and I love learning more about the creatures in it. So, Here’s Another Pokemon! It’s Duskull!

Duskull Details

Type: Ghost

Average Height: 2′ 07″

Average Weight: 33.1 lbs.

First Added In Generation III


Throughout history, parents have used creepy stories and monsters to scare children into being good. “Don’t steal or an evil demon will grab you when you sleep!” Stuff like that. And in the Pokemon universe, this tradition continues. But there is one big difference between the Pokemon universe and our world: Monsters are real and everywhere. And Duskull is very real and the children of the Pokemon universe should be afraid. Very afraid.

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Duskull is a small ghost Pokemon creature who is said to grab up disobedient children. Parents use this story to scare their kids and make them behave. But the stories of Duskull are based on true facts. According to Pokedex entries listed on Bulbapedia, Duskull loves the sound of crying children. I’m not exaggerating. This is the actual text from multiple Pokedex entries from multiple games. It not only loves the sound of crying children, but it will even try to make children cry using their powers.

Duskull can actually turn invisible and pass through thick walls, which is useful when you are trying to hunt down children. It is said that Duskull will even phase through walls to scare children, just to hear them cry. Duskull seems like an asshole, honestly.

If you become Duskull’s target, it will hunt you all night long. Pokedex entries make this very clear. Duskull will not stop hunting their victims until either they catch their target or the sun comes up. What will Duskull do once it catches you? I’m not sure. Nothing good, I assume. Regardless, I think a bunch of kids in the Pokemon universe are going to be on their best behavior after hearing about Duskull, the ghost who loves crying kids.

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Favorite Fan Art

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Even though Duskull is a creepy ghost that loves making kids cry, that doesn’t mean they can’t also be cute. They have a nice little pumpkin too. Awww… I guess Duskull isn’t so bad…

Random Facts

  • Duskull is usually found in floating around, alone, in the dark woods.
  • For some reason, Duskull only has one eye. Which means that isn’t their skull they are wearing.
  • It is said that if Duskull glares at a person with its creepy red-eye, it can make that person freeze in terror.

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Best Comment From Last Week

A few years ago I caught a shiny Gourgeist on Halloween night while in the emergency room wearing a pirate outfit. My friend cut her thumb and needed stitches, and I had to sit there for 5 hours. It was actually the most boring Halloween I ever experienced.

-Anotherburnerboy

Hospitals are maybe the most boring places on Earth. If you are there for medical reasons or someone you know is in a bad condition, it might not feel boring. But just sitting around a hospital for minor reasons is like hanging out in a black hole that sucks all time and fun into it. So you sound like a great friend for staying there on Halloween night. (And you were smart to bring something to play to kill the time.)

Source: Kotaku.com

Everything Paradox Interactive Announced At PDXCON 2019

Earlier today at PDXCON 2019, Paradox Interactive revealed a ton of new expansions for many of their popular games. They also announced a new sequel to Crusader Kings II and a delay for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.

Crusader Kings III

This was most likely the biggest announcement from the event. We have more info about the sequel here. Crusader Kings III is coming next year to Steam and Xbox Game Pass.

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Prison Architect Is Getting A New Expansion In 2020

This new expansion wasn’t given an official name or release date, but it looks to be Alcatraz themed. Our best guess: You will get to build and operate island prisons. Paradox also announced that the console exclusive Pysch Ward DLC will be coming to PC on November 21, 2019.

Stellaris Is Also Getting A New Expansion And New Aliens

Paradox is releasing a new species pack for Stellaris soon, on October 24. This new species is rock-based and will feature new gameplay and in-game portraits. And later this year, a bigger expansion will be released. Federations will add more diplomacy features and a galactic senate as well as new ways to team up with other alliances and governments.

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 Has Been Delayed

Originally set to launch in early 2020, the game will now launch later than expected. It is still coming out in 2020, but no window was given. The developers released a blog post detailing their reasons for delaying the game, stating “… there’s the responsibility to avoid some of the issues that plagued the first game, which was famously launched too early.”

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Surviving The Aftermath Launches Into Early Access On The Epic Game Store

The successor to the popular Surviving Mars, Surviving The Aftermath is a management sim that is all about living in a post-apocalyptic world. The game is available today in Early Access on the Epic Game Store and on Xbox One via the Game Preview program.

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Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Revelations expansion announced

Wow, they really had a lot of expansions to announce, didn’t they? Add this one to the long list of new expansions. This is the first expansion for Age Of Wonders: Planetfall and it add a new faction, over 30 new locations, new campaign missions and more. This big expansion will be out on November 19.

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A New Battletech Expansion Is Coming

Heavy Metal is a new expansion for Battletech that will add eight new mechs featuring several classic designs, a Flashpoint mini-campaign, and eight weapon systems. If you have the Season Pass, Heavy Metal is included in that. The new expansion comes out on November 21.

Source: Kotaku.com

So You’re Into Fortnite Now

While those of us who play Fortnite were riveted to last weekend’s black hole, the rest of the world watched us watching it in confusion and, in some cases, curiosity. Almost two days later, when the game finally came back online, many of my friends—and many of you, in the comments—asked if you should get into it. You also asked if you’d get wrecked by a 10-year-old. The answer to both questions is: yes.

Fortnite’s had a pretty massive overhaul following the hole, entering an era that developer Epic is calling Chapter 2. Players are still sussing out the best landing spots and secrets in the game’s new map and learning its new systems. These changes mean it’s a good time to get into things and learn alongside everyone. Here’s what you, a Fortnite newcomer, need to know.

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So Fortnite’s just a video game, right? It sounds like a bigger deal than that.

Well, it kind of is. You’ve probably heard of it because of how popular it is, especially with young players. Its in-game dances and slang have filtered out into the real world; my nieces and nephews, who don’t play the game, nevertheless play a game called “Fortnite Tag” in gym class (I don’t entirely understand what it is, but it has “Fortnite” in the name.). The game and its players have also been in the news a lot, beyond just video game publications. Celebrities like musician Drake and TV host Ellen DeGeneres have played it alongside some of its most famous streamers. A lot of artists, in particular black artists, have sued developer Epic for allegedly using dances they invented without compensating them. A 16-year-old won $3 million for winning Fortnite’s World Cup this year. There’s a legal effort in Canada right now to take the game to task for allegedly being addictive. Epic has used some of the money it’s made off the game to launch the Epic Store, a marketplace for PC games that lots of people have strong opinions about. Its big in-game events, like the black hole, get a lot of attention in the press and social media, making Fortnite seem less like a game and more like a whole new world that’s corrupting your kids.

But yeah, it’s just a game.

Like anything, games can be bad when you do them too much. I’ve heard from friends about their kids getting bullied in the game or their grades dropping because they were playing too much, but Fortnite isn’t much better or worse than other games when it comes to these types of issues. It’s also a way for people to do something together or hang out when they’re far apart. It’s colorful, fun, and, even though it has guns in it, there isn’t any blood or gore. So, it’s not destroying society, but a lot of young people really like it, and that can freak adults out.

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Millions of people were staring at a black screen for two days. What was with that?

Fortnite isn’t just a screensaver, though you might think that after this week. Long story short: the game is divided into seasons, which last roughly 10 weeks and usually culminate in a big in-game event. The hole was the ending event of Season 10. It started on Sunday afternoon when the game’s entire map got sucked into a black hole following a rocket launch and a big explosion. To players’ surprise, instead of the game going on as it ordinarily would, all you saw when you loaded the game was a black hole. The internet went wild trying to figure out when the game would be playable again. After about 37 hours, at 4 a.m. ET, the game came back online as Chapter 2, with a lot of changes. It was pretty wild of Epic to take the hugely popular game offline for so long, especially during a holiday weekend in Canada and much of the US, so the stunt garnered a lot of attention.

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What is Fortnite when it isn’t a hole?

The best-known version of Fortnite is its battle royale mode, which is free to play on computers, Xbox, PS4, Switch, and mobile. That’s not the only Fortnite mode that exists. Back in 2017, developer Epic spun the battle royale part out from its less-popular co-op narrative game, Fortnite: Save The World. Save The World is a paid game, while Battle Royale is free.

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In battle royale, 100 players in solos, duos, or teams of four jump from a flying bus onto a map. As the phrase “battle royale” connotes, everybody then tries to kill each other, until there’s just one player standing (or one team of players, depending on the mode). If you aren’t playing solos, the game will team you up with strangers, or you can play with your friends. You start with only a pickaxe and have to find whatever weapons are lying around. Weapons have different colors, which denote how rare or powerful they are. You can also find potions that give you shields, items that give you health, and throwable items like grenades. Also, over the course of a match, a storm closes in on the map. If you get caught in it, you’ll lose health and eventually die. This forces players to keep moving closer to each other.

Fortnite stands out from other battle royales, like PUBG and Apex Legends, because you can destroy stuff in the environment and build with it. Using your pickaxe, you can chop up pieces of the environment, like trees, cars, and rocks, to build useful stuff like walls, floors, and ramps. Building can be tricky to get the hang of when you’re new, but it’s a key component of the game. Someone shooting at you? Build a little hut to hide in. Need to get someplace high? Build a ramp up to it. Learning the basics of building is pretty simple, but knowing what to build, when, and how to do it quickly is a bit harder.

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Besides the main 100-player mode, there are other things you can do in Fortnite. There’s a playground mode where you or people you choose can explore the map and practice shooting or building without the pressures of a fight. There’s a creative mode where you can design your own areas and challenges. There are limited-time modes with special rules, like only using certain weapons or flying planes. One of them, called Team Rumble, is now permanent, and it pits two teams of 50 against each other to race to a certain number of kills. There’s also a competitive ranked mode, if you want to be hardcore, but we’ll get to that later.

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You said Fortnite was free, but my kids are always asking me for money for it. Are they scamming me?

You might be raising Oliver Twist, but your kids probably want money for the optional items you can get in the game using the in-game currency, V-Bucks. Some of those items come from a system called a battle pass, which gives you in-game stuff as you unlock its levels. Each season has a new battle pass. One version of the battle pass is free and everyone gets it, while another has more rewards and costs about $10. The paid battle pass also has extra in-game challenges you can complete for more experience. V-Bucks can be earned in game, but mostly you buy them with real-world money.

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In the current iteration of the game, you level up both battle passes by amassing certain numbers of experience points. You get points for basically everything you do in-game: killing enemies, winning matches, outliving opponents, searching chests, and more. Level rewards include items like different characters, called “skins”; dances and other moves your character can do; “wraps” that make your weapons look different; loading screens; and music tracks. Occasionally, the battle pass doles out some V-Bucks. It’s possible to purchase the next season’s battle pass solely through V-Bucks you earn by playing, but it takes a lot of work.

With the battle pass, you’ll always know what reward you’ll get before you do the task required, which is good. The popularity and transparency of Fortnite’s battle pass has encouraged lots of games to switch to this system as opposed to doling out randomized rewards, which can encourage unhealthy behavior and spending.

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There are also outfits and other cosmetics for sale in the in-game store. They’re only available for purchase, and they rotate out regularly. Everything is bought with V-Bucks.

You don’t need to spend any money to play or win, but customizing your character and getting the latest skin or dance is a big part of the game’s appeal. You’ll get plenty of fun stuff with the free pass, but I can see why someone might want to drop some cash on V-Bucks for the paid pass or stuff in the store. Personally, I don’t really buy stuff in the store, though I do pay for the battle pass. I’ve definitely played longer than I intended to so I could get a certain battle pass reward. It isn’t the healthiest choice, but it’s my call as an adult. Set healthy limits for yourself or for your kids, and it should be fine.

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I Googled “Fortnite” and now I keep getting offers for free V-Bucks. Have I discovered a loophole?

There are a lot of scams out there that claim to offer free V-Bucks but really just want to steal your passwords or personal information. Make sure you’re buying legit V-Bucks from Epic.

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I want to be part of the zeitgeist. Am I too old?

Fortnite’s brand is very kid-friendly and kid-facing, but anyone can play. If you’re worried about voice-chatting with minors, you can mute voice and never have to hear someone talk. As an added bonus, in my experience playing Fortnite makes you seem really cool to kids, as well as to their parents, because you can answer all of the parents’ questions.

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Do I have to know the story?

No. Fortnite tells its story weird: Each season has a plot, but it’s mostly told through changes to the game’s landscape, descriptions of character skins, through hidden messages in its loading screens, and through player speculation. This background story culminates in each season’s big ending event, which sets the tone for the next season. One season had a cube that moved around the map and created runes. Season 10’s black hole was precipitated by time rifts caused by a background character from a previous season and an in-game rocket and…a whole lot of other stuff. An end-of-season event, like the black hole, might not make sense to you if you don’t care to decipher the story for yourself throughout a season (which might involve reading subreddits and wikis). Still, the larger scaffolding of these stories will probably still be dramatic and enjoyable, even if you don’t understand all the particulars.

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Part of the fun of the game, for me, is trying to figure out what’s going on. Fans are especially active online in discovering hidden secrets and creating theories. Sometimes those stories filter into the game. If you weren’t following the saga of the cube, for example, you might not know that players nicknamed it “Kevin,” and that could be confusing. However, the new map makes some of the previous stories moot, so if you’re into fan lore and wild guessing, you’d be getting in on the ground floor if you start playing now.

Is it hard to learn to play?

Fortnite is now much more accessible for newcomers. The black hole stunt got a lot of attention to the game, which Epic seems to have planned for with Chapter 2. So, a lot of things have been streamlined or made easier. Battle stars, which you used to use to level up your battle pass, are gone now; you do everything through XP. XP is earned just through playing the game. With the new medal system, you get even more XP for doing things you’d regularly be doing. At least in the early stages, I feel like I’m making progress quickly.

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Last season, Epic also changed how the game decides who else is in a round with you. Now, you should be matched up with players who are more on your skill level. This reduces the likelihood of you getting thrown into a match with experts who will immediately decimate you, which for many newcomers is the biggest stumbling block in many battle royale games.

Epic also seems to have added computer-controlled characters this season. The developer said these bots would be coming to the game but hasn’t released patch notes, so we can’t know 100% that they’re in, but they seem to be. Many other players and I have encountered characters who don’t move or act like human players do. While this might feel like it cheapens the experience, it’s also been a great way for me to practice keeping my cool when I run into an enemy. Killing bots makes me feel like I’m doing well, even if it’s a false sense of satisfaction, which means the game feels more rewarding to play.

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Basically, Fortnite feels less intimidating these days, which is good if you’re new. If you haven’t played in a while, the basics are still the same, and there’s tons of new stuff to explore.

Image: Epic

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What if I’m not good enough?

There are lots of ways to have fun in Fortnite if you aren’t a World Cup contender, and there are also lots of ways to get better. You can find lots of tips for fighting and building on YouTube and Reddit. Team Rumble is a great mode to practice in because you rejoin the game whenever you die, and the chaos means there are lots of players to fight. You can also go into playground mode alone or with friends and pick an area to land. There, you can explore the map or practice your building, which you’ll need to get comfortable with to really succeed in the battle royale mode of the game.

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You can also just play the game with your friends and have a good time. While you don’t want to detract from the game by trolling others, it’s completely okay to play the game as a way to unwind or do goofy stunts instead of being hell-bent on a win.

I’m too good.

I’ve never had this problem, but congrats! If the regular games are feeling too easy for you, you can play in the ranked mode, Arena. It’s for competitive players and doesn’t feature bots. You’ll play against others of your skill level, and Epic regularly runs tournaments in which players compete for money. July’s Fortnite World Cup was one such tournament, with a hefty $30 million prize pool. There are plenty of competitive opportunities for you out there.

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Can I or my kid get rich playing Fortnite?

Maybe! Esports is a viable career, and there are plenty of teams who might be willing to scoop you up if you’re good enough. While World Cup Solos winner Bugha got a lot of notoriety for his big money win, that didn’t come out of nowhere, and it took a lot of hard work. So, you probably won’t get rich quick.

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You might also be thinking of famous streamers like Ninja, who made their careers on the game. While I can’t say the life of a streamer or esports pro is the life for me, it could be for you. Make a Twitch channel and see what happens! Don’t count on instant riches, though, or many riches at all.

I’m a celebrity/politician/CEO. Will playing Fortnite make me more famous?

Maybe, but it will also make you gross for capitalizing on a trend for your personal gain. Unless you truly want to play Fortnite for the fun of it. That’s fine. Do that.

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You’ve convinced me.

Thanks.

I’ve got a whole weekend ahead of me, and I’m ready to play. Any final words of wisdom?

Be a good team player: be respectful to your teammates and other players, mute your mic when you’re not talking, and be a good winner or loser. Very few of my friends play the game, but I’d recommend finding some other newcomers to team up with. Fortnite’s way more fun with friends.

Source: Kotaku.com