Fortnite creates new map, provokes thought on competitive gaming

Lance LeQue, Reporter

“Fortnite Battle Royale,” the wildly popular online battle royale video game, has finally received a face lift after two years of resounding success.

The cultural phenomenon, which drew in more than 125 million players in less than a year after launching in July 2017 and earns hundreds of millions of dollars per month, recently released a brand new map for gamers to enjoy.

The new map came after a worldwide panic in which the game cleverly “went dark” for about 40 hours in the form of a black hole that swallowed up the ever-changing island fans had grown accustomed to for the past two years.

“To be completely honest, it felt like I was watching the movie ‘The Conjuring’ when the demon jumps out of the TV. Other than that, it just made me angry I couldn’t play ‘Fortnite,’” sophomore Austin Farr said.

Thankfully for gamers, the game did not end for good as some had thought.

The black hole event, dubbed “The End,” was simply a genius way for Epic, the game’s developer, to stall for time while preparing to introduce a brand new “chapter” to the “Fortnite” community.

This new chapter is loaded with interesting features such as the ability to cast a fishing rod for weapons and fish, which increases your in-game health.

You can now also swim and drive speed boats, which can be used to quickly navigate the numerous rivers and lakes on the island or fire missiles at opponents.

Additionally, the reboot includes new weapons such as the “bandage bazooka” which allows you to heal teammates by launching band-aids — similar to the “chug splash” previously introduced last summer. All of these are brand new, fun mechanics which help give the game a “fresh” feeling while playing.

The biggest change though, by far, is the “new” island. I put the word new in quotations because although the map has drastically changed from Chapter 1, there are still a couple locations that made it onto the island — Retail Row and Salty Springs.

Sadly though, fan favorite “Tilted Towers” and “Tilted Town” are no more.

“I wanted to make the same hole in my TV screen,” sophomore Parker Johnson said. “I miss Tilted Towers.”

The new map includes locations that seem familiar to previous locations seen on the island. For example, “Slurpy Swamp,” located in the bottom left corner of the island, is a hybrid of the former Flush Factory and Moisty Mire.

It’s a Slurp Juice factory built upon a swamp, where Slurp kegs and cartons can be found spread across the area which restore health and shields when broken.

Also introduced for the first time are medals and landmarks, which can be unlocked in-game via exploring the island, eliminating opponents or simply surviving the ongoing storm circles.

Battle stars appear to have been removed; instead players can earn the typical rewards like skins, emotes, virtual currency or soundtracks simply by completing regular weekly challenges which grant massive amounts of experience points so you can level up.
The Battle Pass is still an option to either purchase with already-earned in-game currency, which are known as “V-Bucks,” or out-of-pocket at a cost of roughly $10, which translates to 1000 V-Bucks.
Finally, after updating the game and loading into the Battle Royale mode for the first time, the player is immediately dropped from the Battle Bus into a live game.
No warning, no tutorial, no loading screen — just literally thrown into the new world with reckless abandon.

When you pull up the map of the island, you’ll see that everything has been blacked out — leaving you to “unlock” each individual location and landmark by exploring. This is a great way to get the player to navigate the entire island.

It forces the player to climb outside of their comfort zone to start — instead of dropping at the same location each game, it’s highly recommended to visit each of the 13 main locations.

Esports in college
For those familiar with Twitch, online streamers have made competitive gaming — known as “esports,” — popular among a specific niche of gamers.

Professional leagues have been created for video games such as “League of Legends” and the “NBA 2K” series. It’s become so popular in the gaming world that the current buzz is whether colleges will begin to consider offering scholarships to competitive gamers.

“UWO doesn’t have the funding to offer scholarships to athletes so I doubt they would ever feel competitive gaming would be any more significant,” Farr said.

Junior Matt Dinse concurred with Farr’s opinion.

“I wouldn’t like it, to be honest,” Dinse said. “I think there’s better things that scholarships could be offered for.”

Although competitive gaming might never be recognized by the NCAA, it’s hard to ignore its success in recent years.

According to Reuters, it was estimated that the total audience of esports would grow to 454 million viewers in 2019 and that revenues would increase to more than $1 billion.

Coverage of esports has been picked up by media outlets such as ESPN and Yahoo! and is also featured regularly on YouTube.

It’s become so serious that there have been issues with performance enhancing drug use within esports. Sources including Eurogamer, Engadget and New Scientist all have indicated widespread use of stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse — drugs which can significantly boost concentration, improve reaction time and prevent fatigue.

Selegiline, a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease, is also reportedly popular because, like stimulants, it enhances mood and motivation.

Conversely, drugs with calming effects are also sought after.

Some players take propranolol, which blocks the effects of adrenaline, or Valium, which is prescribed to treat anxiety disorder, in order to remain calm under pressure.

One potential way to legitimize esports, according to Reuters and also suggested throughout the gaming community, is via recognition by the International Olympic Committee.

A summit held by the IOC in October 2017 acknowledged the growing popularity of esports, concluding that “competitive ‘esports’ could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports,” but would require any games used for the Olympics fitting “with the rules and regulations of the Olympic movement.”

The two difficulties in the way of introducing esports as an Olympic event, according to IOC President Thomas Bach, are that they would need to restrict those that present violent gameplay, and that there is currently a lack of a global sanctioning body for esports to coordinate further.

Bach acknowledged that many Olympic sports bore out from actual violent combat, “sport is the civilized expression about this,” Bach said. “If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”

Due to that, it was suggested that the IOC would approve games that simulate real sports, such as the “NBA 2K” or “FIFA” series.