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Fortnite: Battle Royale Season 8

Season 7 Recap

In Fortnite season 7, we saw: an iceberg hit the island, leading to snow covered areas and new Points of Interest (POI); new modes of transportation with zip-lines and biplanes; multiple tweaks to balance damage and gameplay; Christmas celebrated by covering the whole map with snow; an in-game event where the Ice King (Tier 100 outfit from the Battle Pass) released snow over the whole island again along with ice zombies; an in-game concert for Marshmellow; and a free Battle Pass promotion for completing several overtime challenges. Season 7, while for the most part divorced from the “lore” of the past few seasons, managed to pack quite a bit into its schedule, and I didn’t even mention the pop-up tournaments that players could join in each week. I’m sure that growing dark spot in Wailing Woods is nothing to be concerned about…

The Block moved further west to make room for the new POI’s, which just…appeared, apparently?
Season 8: The Ocho

Adventure Awaits! Pirates and ninjas. Dancing bananas. Style (clothing) upgrades galore. Oh, and a huge volcano spewing hot magma where The Block and northern Wailing Woods used to be, along with a few new POIs in the northeast corner of the map. The X-4 plane and golf cart have been vaulted, but they added cannons that players can use to attack enemies or launch themselves across the map. Also aiding mobility are Volcanic Vents, which fling players skyward like a naturally occurring launch pad. So if last season saw the southwest corner becoming a snowy biome (it still is) then the northeast corner has become tropical, and has new features including a volcano, pirate ship, and jungle. Still no new map, sadly. But if I had to venture a guess, the cracks all over Tilted Towers and other locations make me think the map changes aren’t over for this season. For a list of all the changes, check the patch notes here.

You can go down inside the volcano, and the magma flow goes into the tunnel that used to lead to Tomato Town. Tomato Temple is now on the slopes of the volcano.

Speaking of change, Epic has made this season the first instance of not only a female, but minority female as the tier 100 outfit for the Battle Pass. There’s always been good diversity in the outfits overall, but for the top tier reward we’ve had John Wick, Omega, Ragnarok, and werewolf dudes. Now, though, we also have a black woman channeling her inner Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez. While she might share some similarities with Apex Legend’s Lifeline character, what Epic really stole from that game was the ping system—players can now tag enemies and items, as well as locations on the map. Tagging also shows distance now.

All the Battle Pass characters. While Apex and Fortnite have both put women of African descent in their games, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we learn that an Overwatch character was actually a black lady all along, HA!
Several unnamed POI’s have been upgraded to Pirate forts, complete with cannons, more ammo and chest spawns, and flags.

Since pirates are a big part of this season (and pirates steal amirite?), it’s not totally surprising that cannons have made their way into the game. It seems that someone at the Fortnite offices is a fan of Sea of Thieves since players can not only shoot the cannons at enemies, but load themselves into them and fire a humanoid cannonball across the map. Just. Like. Sea of Thieves. You can get some good distance if you have redeploy gliders as well. Just be sure not to land in a tree, stranding yourself like I did.

Cracks still appearing all over the map = foreshadowing.

Slightly frustrating is the continued lack of discernible story or lore – and I know, I know, nobody goes to a Michael Bay movie or a Battle Royale game for story, but it used to make sense what was happening on the island from season to season.  Last season and this one it’s just “This happened! Now fight!” See the intro video above, which is one of the shortest season trailers I think they’ve made. Again, it’s cool what they’ve added, and I understand from a programming perspective it’s far easier to just make small tweaks to an existing map, but it’s getting tiring to me that they keep just shoving new things onto the map, much like a kid pushing more and more toys onto a play area. There should be a new map already. Or it could be cool if they just did a Limited Time Mode (LTM) where they let people play on an old map, like season 1 or 2. Maybe remembering how sparse the first few seasons were would also keep complainers like myself from whining about wanting a new map.

You want more upgrades for your Battle Pass outfits? You got em!

Challenges this season have gotten harder, with weekly challenges now asking players to get eliminations or do damage with multiple different weapons. To aid players with this is the Party Assist feature that lets you select one challenge per match that your entire party can help you with, so if you stink with sniper rifles you can get everyone to help you complete that pesky “Do damage with a sniper rifle and SMG in one round,” challenge. Or you can knock out the “Visit three stone faces” in one match with everyone in the squad’s help. It doesn’t work with randomly queued players however, just your party. Sorry Rando Calrissian.

Between the pirates versus ninjas, bananas (and banana dance), and emphasis on play over lore or story, it definitely feels like Epic is catering to it’s target audience of kids and internet-savvy adults. The volcano is a cool addition, and the lava gives the game a bit of Mario feel as you take 1 point of damage and bounce off. But after a year and a half, the cycle of drop/loot/fight/die (sometimes win!) is starting to wear thin, at least for me. There are some cool additions to season 8, and if you received the free Battle Pass promotion you should definitely check it out. However, as more games like Apex bring new ideas to the table, Fortnite is going to have to do more than just add new outfits and a couple map changes to keep everyone engaged.

Season 8 of Fortnite: Battle Royale runs from February 28th to May 8th, 2019.

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Fortnite: Battle Royale Season 7

In the video introduction for Season 7 of Fortnite: Battle Royale, ‘Swole Santa and his not-so-merry helpers have arrived on the island and they brought the snow and ice with them. This isn’t just cosmetic as several of the changes will have an impact on gameplay possibly all season long. Oddly enough, this season seems divorced from the past few in terms of lore; the runes and corrupted areas of the map are gone, along with the shadow stones and any other remnants of past seasons except for rifts.

The snow covers most of the Southwest corner of the map, and almost all of the Points of Interest (POI) in that area have been replaced. If you were a big fan of landing at Flush Factory or Greasy Grove, you might not like what you see. On the plus side, we have a new airport named Frosty Flights, a new mountain with a buried castle named Polar Peak, and a Bavarian-themed village named Happy Hamlet. The remnants of Greasy Grove can be seen in the lake north of Polar Peak, but be aware that walking on the lake will frost your character’s feet like they stepped on a chiller trap (which among other items, got vaulted – see patch notes here). It’ll be interesting to see if the snow spreads this season or starts to melt, revealing buried POIs.

Here’s hoping the snow on Polar Peak recedes enough that we can explore the castle in full, especially since the castle above Haunted Hills is almost fully destroyed this season.

If you don’t have time to read the full patch notes, the highlights are the previously mentioned new snow areas, the addition of planes and zip lines, and the ability to shoot or use items with balloons. Last season they introduced us to holding balloons with your character’s hands; now you’re free to bound across the landscape and shoot at the same time. Planes and zip lines make getting across the map a breeze. It’s almost too easy now. I’m not saying I miss sprinting all match long from the stadium to Moisty Moire, but what I said about last season is feeling more and more true: Epic needs to stop adding stuff.

Some players have already complained that the new planes are overpowered, but it’s only been a day. They’re great for getting across the map quickly (and with your whole squad sitting on the wings!), but they’re slow, loud targets that don’t shoot very well. I wish they would have left in the ability to re-deploy your glider instead of adding all these other things that clutter up the map and make it more of a cartoony Battlefield game. The meta of Fortnite has always been change, but it’s these vehicles and new modes of transport that really make it unrecognizable from last year—not the map changes.

Jump on a zip line to rapidly get from point to point and you can still shoot – just be aware that some players have encountered glitches that killed them or flung them so far they were injured.

Another move that sees Epic copying a big-name franchise is the addition of wraps: weapon and vehicle skins pulled right out of Call of Duty. As you unlock new wraps, you can apply them to specific weapon types. For instance, any shotgun you pick up has a bright green wrap to it. Personally, I’m not sure about it for use on weapons, but liked how it looked on the vehicles—again, I’m not sure I like it in the game. One new thing I am a huge fan of is the addition of being able to sort by new in your locker. Now, when you buy or unlock a new item from the Battle Pass, you don’t have to search though every single emote, spray, toy, and sticker to find it. There’s not much more to say about it, but this innocuous feature has been long-requested by the Fortnite community.

Lynx and Zenith outfits, and yes that is a hamster pet backpack in the background.

The Battle Pass has several great skins, now called outfits, and the first two you unlock by buying the Battle Pass both have upgradeable clothing. Zenith starts out looking like an average Asian guy, but as you level him up, he bundles up and looks like an ice-climber or explorer. Lynx begins with a look that screams, “manic pixie nerd girl,” but ends up as a “Tron-meets-Catwoman” with reactive colors. Outfits also included if you get through the Battle Pass levels are Sgt. Winter (‘Swole Santa), Powder (Snowboarder Lady), Onesie (Girl in a Durr Burger outfit), Trog (Yeti!), and the tier 100 outfit of the Ice (Lich) King.

This outfit has me more excited than the Tier 100 Ice King.

This season Epic has also seen fit to tap into player’s creative side, adding a Creative play mode where—much like Playground—players can build and create to their heart’s content, the difference being that you can save your creations in Creative mode. They also added an area in the North of the map called The Block: a space where they will be uploading player-created structures into the game! This sounds amazing if it works; I just wish they hadn’t dropped it right on top of Risky Reels, a great POI for the last couple seasons. Between this and the fluctuating area where the soccer stadium used to be, it seems like they don’t know what to do with the North part of the map.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the outfits and additions to cosmetics for this season, and it’ll be interesting to see which Christmas-themed ones are introduced or brought back from last year. I think it’ll be a matter of when, not if, they’ll add the Snowman outfit from the trailer to the Fortnite Store. I like the new snow biome, but still think it’s time for them to add a new map. In the meantime, if you’re looking for the Christmas trees from last year—if you can find the house from the trailer, I’ve seen it spawn three chests next to each other under the tree. Merry Christmas and good luck getting those Victory Royales!

Happy Hamlet aka Little Bavaria aka Leavenworth Washington aka Snowy Tilted Towers.

 

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Fortnite Battle Royale Season 5: Worlds Collide

Going into Season 5 for Fortnite: Battle Royale (FBR), I had high hopes for a new map, some decent fixes, and just the same all-around sense of joy and wonder we got with the last season’s launch. And while we didn’t actually get a brand-new map, Epic has managed to make enough new changes to the current map to make things again feel fresh, while not alienating veteran players who know and love the familiar terrain.

This season’s theme is “Worlds Collide” which might not make a ton of sense out of context. To back up: at the end of Season 4, there was a one-time, in-game event where a rocket was launched. Some people thought it would destroy a named Place of Interest (POI) like Tilted Towers, for instance. Instead it seems that the rocket broke some plane of reality, and cracks in the sky appeared along with small rifts that destroyed parts of popular landmarks. Once Season 5 launched, players found out that these rifts actually pulled entire new sections of map, seemingly plunked down from the sky with broken roads and edges to show for it. In addition several new POI’s were scattered across the map, as well as several odd additions that could only be explained by the rifts being responsible. While I was initially disappointed with no new map, props to Epic for weaving some actual storytelling into why the map looks the way it does this and last season.

The new map, complete with snowy Viking Village, Southwestern Tundra, and golf course to name a few.

The most obvious map change is in the southeastern corner, where Moisty Mire used to be. Now there resides Paradise Palms, a slightly smaller vacation-esque Tilted Towers, as well as several other new places to drop and find loot.

The dirt track on the coast usually referred to as “Gus” has been upgraded to a full paved track, complete with timers and golf carts- players can now load up a full squad in one vehicle and roll across the map. Carts are rare, and breakable, but don’t seem to make you suffer fall damage when dropping from great heights, like a rift you might have driven into just for kicks to see what happens. That’s another thing: mini rifts have opened across the map that players can jump into, which results in you being dropped from the sky high above where you entered the rift. Like many of the additions in this game, it’s hilarious, sometimes useful, but overall really fun to do.

#SquadGoals.
Jumping in those blue shimmering rifts will result in you being dropped from very high up, and parachuting down. Driving into one in a golf cart will result in the same thing, but with more hilarity.

Other small changes makes it seem like Epic will be continually adding and editing the map again this season, such as snow being visible above the Viking village, and what seems to be sand seeping out of some of the rifts in the sky. The rifts have also started to take on an aurora-like purplish hue. Also, Dusty Divot has completely gone back to nature – the crater is now covered in a thick grove of trees that has even overtaken the facility that was built there last season. It’s interesting to speculate what they could do with other locations in the future as they continue to tweak and improve on the map. Maybe let Loot Lake dry up? Or have a pirate-themed beach show up in the watery southwestern corner? Only time will tell.

The new and improved mountain top, featuring a Viking themed village.

Besides the map changes, Epic made some subtle tweaks that might not be apparent at first to the Fortnite formula. First off, they added a delay when swapping weapons, effectively ending the “Double Pump” strategy. Double Pumping was done by having two pump shotguns in your inventory and rapidly swapping between them in order to dish out high damage without suffering the slow reload of each shell into the shotgun.

Dusty Divot is now as dense of a forest as Wailing Woods.

Another not-so-obvious change is how the storm works at the end of the match. In the last few circles, instead of just getting smaller the storm has a chance to force players into an area already claimed by the storm, making them move with it. I can say from experience this is an exciting change that makes you abandon your built-up base, and in a squad game takes high levels of communication and strategy. This is a great change that will keep endgame from just being a handful of players shooting at each other out of their 1×1 towers as the circle shrinks.

Easter Island statues have popped up all over as well, along with a few chests around them.

Epic also added interactive emotes this season, building off of season 4’s “Spray” emotes. Now, once they’re unlocked from the Battle Pass players can shoot hoops, throw beach balls, and make golf shots – and baskets and putts that go in show up as stats in the battle feed. It might be a battle royale, but Epic keeps giving players reasons and different ways to have fun.

Speaking of the Battle Pass, there’s a wide variety of combatants to choose from this season, From traditional military-looking guy to Viking inspired warriors, and many in-between including an office worker, lifeguard, biker, and a…golfing graffiti enthusiast? Not sure where they got that idea. The great part is they’re also continuing the ideas they had with a couple of the superhero skins last season, where once they were unlocked you could level them up further, unlocking more armor pieces and colors as you go. The top tier skin, “Ragnarok” has some seriously cool unlockable styles.

What’s up with that guy in the middle? The name of the skin is “Drift” but he’s like, if Banksy was really into golf and anime…?

The last subtle changes were the fonts in-game for harvesting and the Victory Royale screen, as well as a small window of slow-motion being added with the final killshot. Now when you try to pull off that golf-cart-ride-through-a-rift-no-scope-720 and fall to your death, the last guy alive will get to see your final moment in slow-mo glory. I can’t wait to see what else Epic has planned for Fortnite: Battle Royale‘s 5th season, but so far they’re off to a great start.

When you’re trying to ramp up to the last guy but your teammate takes care of them, and then you’re trying to quickly get a screenshot of it for an article so it looks like you’re just standing there building instead of doing something cool…
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Game of the Year Awards – 2017

Another year has drawn to a close. Through it all, we’ve seen some major highs and lows. Nintendo launched the Switch in 2017 and as of this writing has already sold over 10 million units, Microsoft brought console gaming into the 4K space with the Xbox One X, EA came under fire for their use of loot crates in Battlefront II, and PUBG sparked a fire that toppled DotA 2 from its long-held slot for most concurrent Steam players.

At the end of the day, this is the best time to be a gamer, and the team at Geeks Under Grace have deliberated on our favorites for 2017. We hope you enjoy.


This category is reserved for the greatest console-exclusive games to grace the Xbox One in 2017. They comprise what we feel are the best the platform has to offer that you can’t get on competing consoles

With a massive suite of true-to-life vehicles are real-world courses, Forza Motorsport 7 has everything racing simulation fans could hope for, and a heaping spoonful for casual fans to enjoy as well. Combine that with some of the most gorgeous visuals of any game in 2017, and Turn 10 Studios Forza Motorsport 7 earns its distinction as our Runner-Up for Best Xbox One Game of 2017.

 

While StudioMDHR’s Cuphead is notorious for its difficulty, there’s no denying its tight controls and strong art design. Gorgeous hand-drawn animations and superb enemy design help earn it our Winner for 2017 Xbox One Game of the Year.


The games in this category represent the best software on the PlayStation 4 in 2017 that could be found on no competing consoles.  Our staff feels they are the best the platform has to offer that can only be played here (or on PC).

With great characters, an excellent story, and a fantastic sense of style, Persona 5 has become one of the most talked-about games of 2017. The franchise from Atlus and P-Studios has continued to deliver a great roleplaying game with social elements year after year and the Phantom Thieves of Heart are no exception. Thus, Persona 5 has earned our Runner-Up for Best PlayStation 4 Game of 2017.

 

 

Guerilla Games has traditionally been known for creating linear first-person shooters with a brown color palette. Imagine our surprise, then, when Horizon Zero Dawn hit store shelves. This is third-person action adventure game full of bright, evocative visuals in a post-apocalyptic future version of Colorado. Most importantly, the imaginative enemy design and top-tier voice acting took our breath away, earning it our title as Winner of PlayStation 4’s Best Game of 2017.


2017 saw the release of Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch. A hybrid of classic console and mobile gaming, the platform promised to satisfy fans both at home and on-the-go. Beyond the console release, the platform saw a deluge of fantastic exclusive titles in its inaugural year. From re-releases like Pokken Tournament DX and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to new originals like Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem WarriorsMario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and ARMS, fans were not lacking for something to play. This category represents the best the platform had to offer in 2017.

 

In its first year, the Switch was graced with a new Super Mario game with Super Mario Odyssey. Not only had Princess Peach been captured by Bowser, but he’d taken the partner of Cappy, Mario’s new helper, as well. As you chase Bowser across the world, collecting moons and trying to stop nuptials you know should never happen, you’ll encounter a fantastic world full of bright, vibrant locations and exciting new creatures. Super Mario Odyssey has earned the Runner-Up for our Best Switch Game of 2017!

 

If Super Mario Odyssey took runner-up, you know there’s only one other game that could take the gold. As a launch game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a must-have, and it caught like wildfire, even outselling the console itself at one point (people were buying the game while waiting for Nintendo to restock shelves with Switch consoles). With a massive, gorgeous world, fun cast of characters, tons of dungeons, all of those Korok seeds to collect, and the ability to climb and go anywhere, it quickly won the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere, and has remained substantial enough to warrant its place as our Winner for Best Switch Game of 2017!

 


While there were many great PC-exclusive games this year, we broadened this category out to allow some console-spillover. This category represents our staff’s favorite games on the PC in 2017.

With several new releases across multiple platforms, 2017 was a strong year for game publisher Bethesda, but few stood out to us like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. With a great story, memorable characters, and tight gameplay, its earned our spot as the Runner-Up for Best PC Game of 2017.

In 2017, Bungie and Activision were able to bring the Destiny franchise onto the PC with the release of Destiny 2. Players everywhere, including our Stream Team, found their ghost and the light of the Traveler, donned their Guardian gear, and set out to put the hurt on baddies from across the galaxy. With great 4v4 competitive multiplayer and a truly memorable 6-person raid, it earns our spot as Winner for 2017’s PC Game of the Year.

Page 2: Best Indie, Best Shooter, Best RPG, Best Action
Page 3: Best Fighting, Best Narrative Game, Best Platformer, Best Soundtrack/Theme Song
Page 4: Best Multiplayer, Best Remaster, Most Anticipated, Game of the Year