Batman is here to help us understand what’s going on in ‘Fortnite’

 1 year ago
source link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2021/04/20/batman-fortnite-zero-point/
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Batman is here to help us understand what’s going on in ‘Fortnite’

(The Washington Post illustration; DC Comics)
April 20, 2021 at 2:09 p.m. UTC

The plot to “Fortnite” sometimes seems like every story you wrote as a kid while playing with your toys in the bathtub. This isn’t a put-down — the creative freedom can be liberating for the player.

But for the fictional, virtual participants on Fortnite Island, it’s a prison. For anyone not paying attention to the story in the world’s biggest battle royale (and a front-runner for building the Metaverse, the next Internet), all the characters in “Fortnite” are forced to fight each other in 22-minute loops, and nobody has any clue why. That’s why the game can get away with showing the good-hearted Ryu of “Street Fighter” killing a cute, sentient banana with fireballs.

For the first time ever, we will see the world of “Fortnite” through the lens of one of its characters: Batman, the world’s smartest detective. In a crossover miniseries with DC Comics, “Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point” will expand the game’s story in significant ways.

The pitch is compelling: Batman wakes up on Fortnite Island with no memories of his past and no ability to speak. Sooner or later, like every character in “Fortnite,” he is pulled into a battle royale with the entire game’s cast, bumping into characters from other properties too. And when the fight ends, the whole mad melee starts all over again.

Batman wakes up time and time again in 22-minute loops, progressively trying to unlock the secret of his situation. He starts writing notes on himself, like “This has happened before,” a touch inspired by Christopher Nolan’s “Memento.” The Dark Knight realizes that some objects retain their permanency. He may not remember who he is or what even happened 22 minutes ago, but like other “Fortnite” participants who retain their skills, he’s still the world’s greatest detective and he’s going to figure it out. He doesn’t know who Bruce Wayne is, but he’s still got Bruce Wayne’s smarts and muscle memory.

Writer Christos Gage, who wrote for the popular first season of the Netflix “Daredevil” series, did not initially understand the long, confusing lore of “Fortnite.” He said that the game’s main story planner, Donald Mustard, gave him details that have not yet appeared in the game, but will be in the comic. Now, Gage has knowledge of where the “Fortnite” story goes.


His cluelessness helped him ask some questions that would only further clarify how the island operates.

“Okay, so memories reset after 22 minutes, but what about emotions? What about basic personalities? If the Joker went to Fortnite Island and his memory was wiped, would he still be crazy?” Gage said, describing discussions with Mustard and Epic Games. “Questions like that led to some productive and collaborative discussions that benefited the story. Had I come in with a bunch of preconceived notions about the game, that might not have happened. I’m glad it worked out the way it did.”

Because “Fortnite” characters don’t actually talk on Fortnite Island, Batman is a silent protagonist for the first few issues, and the story is portrayed through thought-bubble-like captions. Other characters also largely remain silent, which presented an interesting challenge for Gage and artist Reilly Brown.

“I also felt like with the third issue, let’s try something different,” Gage said. “That one is told through the point of view of someone who works for the organization who controls Fortnite Island and is sending interoffice memos throughout the company, talking about Batman and what he’s doing. It was a lot of fun to come up with that approach and implement it, and it gives readers some insight into that organization.”

“Usually when I do a comic, I try to make it clear enough to read that even if there wasn’t any text, you’d know what’s going on,” said Brown, who’s done work for titles like “Amazing Spider-Man” and “Deadpool.” “I had to play around a lot with facial expressions so I’m able to communicate what’s going on in the character’s heads. … Not being able to talk is a plot point, so that’s something Batman has to deal with specifically. Seeing his attempts to do that is very interesting.”

There are also some game mechanics that don’t make it into the Batman series. “Fortnite” is not just a game about shooting and fighting — it’s also about building. But you won’t see Batman magically creating towers of steel and sticks.


“Batman builds himself sort of a Batcave, so there’s some side references to it, but it’s not a big part of the story,” Gage said. “It was better to shy away from some aspects.”

Gage said “Fortnite” seems like the perfect playground for Harley Quinn, who also plays a large role in why Batman ended up on the island.

The series launches April 20, and each print issue includes codes for special in-game items. Redeeming all six codes nets you a Zero Point Batman outfit, in which Batman dresses himself in all kinds of Fortnite-themed battle gear.

Batman being on Fortnite Island also comes with the morbid fact that Batman, along with all the other characters, are dying every 22 minutes.

“If you pay attention to his facial hair, you can kind of see how long he’s in there,” Brown said. “So he’s definitely in there for at least a week.”

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