Parenting through the Fortnite Fog

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Fortnite makes me feel old.

Let me try that again, talking with my son about Fortnite makes me feel old. Figuring out the pricing structure for the game made me feel even older.

Parenting Website Fail

My search began in the in-game Fortnite store. Tabitha and I wanted Wyatt to buy the full Fortnite game first before spending money on micro-transactions (skins/costumes). I could not find a full game unlock in the store, but I noticed something called a Battle Pass. I was confused. The parenting fog of war was beginning to set in, as I tried to pit normal video game pricing logic versus free-to-play logic. All I wanted to know is:

What is the difference between the $60 base game (I kept finding on Google) versus the $10 Battle Pass?

The information I found on parenting websites was either outdated or months old. Add in the different consoles with their different versions and the confusion only grew thicker.

After awhile, I figured out that the Nintendo Switch version is different than the Xbox and PS4 versions. The Xbox/PS4 has a $60 physical version that features an exclusive zombie mode. The Switch version, it turns out, does not have a physical version/zombie mode and only requires a $10 Battle Pass. Beginning to see the light, Wyatt and I got in the car and headed to GameStop to pick up some V-Bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency).

Seeing the Light in GameStop

The friendly GameStop employee quickly confirmed my thoughts:

  • On the Xbox/PS4, $60 buys you a physical copy of the game that features an exclusive zombie mode.
  • A $10 Battle Pass, think subscription, allows you to play the game through a season (10 weeks). The Battle Pass gives you experience point multipliers (helps you level faster) as well as the opportunity to unlock in-game cosmetics/skins. Parents: You or your child can still play the game without a Battle Pass. You just don’t get the “fun” unlocks.
  • Instead of having the game tied to your credit card, you can buy a pre-loaded card that has money on it for your respective system. For instance: We picked up a $10 Nintendo eShop card. Keep in mind that when we bought the Battle Pass later on, the Battle Pass came out to $10.31. Yes parents, tax is involved so plan accordingly.

In the End

I’m not sure how I feel about paying $10 every 10 weeks for the ability to unlock items that are already present in the game. Maybe this is where I start to show my age; maybe all games work like this? I’d much rather pay a $60 one-time fee and be done with it though. But we’ll see how long the Fortnite craze holds in the Hall household. Right now, I’m looking at opening my own account on the PS4 in order to play with Wyatt. I’ll report back, at some point, with my Fortnite impressions. Until then, play all the games or not.

When was the last time your kid/s made you feel old?

The Final Station

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final-station-logo_big

The Final Station embraces the storytelling confidence of The Last of Us. The world has gone to hell with hope riding on a single train of salvation.

The Final Station_20160831152709

This train just keeps a rollin’

It’s rolling down the track

I am the silent conductor

And I can’t look back

Because I am outrunnin’

Death

Biological warfare waged by an alien race. The first invasion, which released gas-filled pods, has already occurred. Humanity invaded from within. Survival gone genetically awry.

The bomb lives

Notes of clarity rise above the government conspiracy-laden setting. The Oregon Trail-like train simulator portions allow you, the player, to make a difference. People you find, while out scavenging, become your passengers. You can feed them; you can provide medicine to help keep them alive. Life is your choice. But the train must keep rolling. No matter who dies.

The Final Station falls into a rhythm that sings on repeat:

  • Explore buildings
  • Scavenge for supplies
  • Rescue those you come across
  • Find the slip of paper with the keypad code (this unlocks the Blocker that keeps the train from moving)
  • Survive and eliminate those who have succumbed to the gas
  • Maintain individual train systems
  • Monitor the passengers

Gameplay loop excellence soon overstays its welcome like Steve Urkel. Enemy types and encounters become rote. Individual station stops become less about survival-filled exploration and more of a slog. Even the constant “what’s in the next room” tension eventually gives way by the fourth hour of gameplay. Text size issues further complicate the matter and make reading anything story related hard.

But the train just keeps a movin’. And by then you’ll want to stick it out to the end of the track.

Perhaps there is hope?

Are we there yet?

I loved The Final Station. The level design reminded me of the army bases I used to draw as a kid. Tunnels, secret bunkers, pathways into the darkness. Imagination allowed to run wild.

The Final Station is a fantastic effort with just enough neat ideas to keep me onboard. Good job, ya’ll!

wavesplinter5/5 – The Final Station fails to complete the warm The Last of Us hug it is trying to give. Despite that huggable failure, I love the game. Just keep this nightmare generator away from your kids, okay?

Wave SplinterTitle: The Final Station
Developer: Do My Best, Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $14.99

*The Final Station was reviewed using a code provided by Tinybuild.

The Walking Dead: A World Without God

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I’ve been trying to figure out why The Walking Dead: Episodes 1 & 2 have gotten under my skin so much. Sure the storyline, characters, and environment are compelling but there has to be more to my fascination with this game. The other day, I finally figured out what has been bugging me, the world of The Walking Dead is a world without God.

The chaos of the virus outbreak has left the world in tatters. Law and order have been completely shoved out the door and the basic instinct of survival has taken over. This survival instinct is solely based on emotion. The problem with emotions is that they are often founded on heat of the moment reactions. Logic is relegated to the corner when emotion is involved. There is no peace in this zombie-filled world of emotional rule.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33a

Sometimes friends “make” you do stupid things.

There came a point in the game where I was presented with a situation where I had the choice about whether to kill someone. Up until this point, the game had made me highly dislike this particular character. To make matters worse, earlier in the game I was conveniently told that anyone who died would quickly become a “walker” (re: zombie). So here I am, dealing with a man who has just collapsed on the ground, seemingly dead. What do I do? My best friend in the game quickly pushes to bash the man’s brains in (which is the only way to kill a zombie). My emotional response that followed was one based on my dislike for the character and the survival response of not wanting to be eaten. I decided to let my friend kill this man. My decision, though based in a game world, has bugged me ever since.

In retrospect, I feel like the game somehow ripped me off; I felt like I had been goaded into an emotional response. It was either going to be him or me. The basic instinct of survival ruled.

Regardless of the game, I am thankful that I live in a real world created by a God who loves order. The Walking Dead is an intense game based on emotional choices. In the end, I know that emotions lie as they vary from day-to-day. I am thankful that God is my compass and not mere emotion.

The Walking Dead: Episodes 1 and 2 Impressions

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Last night my wife left me. Well she left me to go to a bachelorette party, I should say. Soon after my son went to bed, I loaded up Telltale Games The Walking Dead: Episode 1 on the PS3. Thinking my wife would be gone for a few hours, I thought that I could at least finish up Episode One – A New Day (I had played for at least an hour a week ago). Little did I know that I would spend the next three hours deeply engrossed in a zombie-filled horror.

I want to say something upfront about this series. Unlike most M-rated games, The Walking Dead earns its rating almost immediately. Beyond the bloody and sometimes lingering gore-filled camera shots, the explicit language used in the game is intense. I don’t think I’ve ever played a video game that uses the f-word with such frequency as The Walking Dead does. This is about as far from the Mario universe as you can possibly get. Just a word of warning.

Living in the chaos of a decimating virus outbreak is not dream of mine. Personal survival quickly becomes the rule of the day; personal survival at the cost of others lives. The Walking Dead: Episode 1 opens with a man named Lee being transported in the back of a police cruiser. Whether he is guilty of whatever it is he has done, the game leaves that up to your imagination. All you know is that something is going horribly wrong in the City of Atlanta. A zombie, standing in the middle of the highway, leads to the police cruiser crashing. The story of Lee’s survival has just begun.

What makes The Walking Dead so compelling is its storyline. The game makes you actually care about different characters. Soon after the car accident, Lee meets up with a little girl named Clementine. This is where the game sucked me in. Lee suddenly has someone that is watching his every move, an innocent. Knowing Clementine is watching me, Lee, makes me make decisions differently. I want to shield her from the carnage. After playing Episode 2 – Starved For Help, I’ve learned that shielding her is often impossible. There is evil in this world, evil that knows no bounds.

I haven’t been this captivated by a game in a long time. The characters, voice acting, and storyline all come together to create a group of people I care about. Deaths come about as shocking. Choices I’ve made I’ve later regretted and have reaped the consequences of. The Walking Dead represents interactive drama at its best. I just wish they’d tone down the language.

Dreams

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Sorry the picture is so grainy…no flash photography was allowed in this part of the game. Might scare the zombies!

I do not do well with scary stuff. Take for instance a sudden twist in the Uncharted storyline last night. Everything had been going along swimmingly, when suddenly a past Nazis influence was introduced. Poof! Cue the supernatural elements such as killer Zombies -thankfully not armed with weapons, yet!-. After battling through darkened corridors with only a flashlight, I finally thought I had gotten away from this demonic horde. I was wrong. Very wrong. The game’s developers then decided to chuck not only zombies at me, but terrorists as well. A deadly combination burrito. Without the cheese.

Jurassic Park. Apparently not a fun place considering all anyone does is run and die.

All of the above to say that I had some pretty intense dreams last night. I dreamed of a zombie apocalypse that was somewhat akin to the movie Jurassic Park. Except this time…all of the golden retrievers died.

Dreams can take us to the wildest of places. Sometimes making sense and other times not. I am thankful not to live in a dream world…the nightmares are far too intense.

What crazy dreams have you had recently?

Plants vs. Zombies Released

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PopCap Game’s Plants vs. Zombies (link will open iTunes) was unleashed upon the iPhone/ iPod touch today. Priced at $2.99, this app is sure to change your outlook on the power of sunflowers.

The 2009 game of the year is now on iPhone and iPod touch!

Get ready to soil your plants in this Adventure mode version of the hit PopCap game! A mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home, and your only defense is an arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants. Use peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more to slow down, confuse, weaken and mulchify 26 types of zombies before they can reach your front door.

Each zombie has its own special skills, so you’ll need to think fast and plant faster to combat them all. But be careful how you use your limited supply of greens and seeds… as you battle the fun-dead, obstacles like a setting sun, creeping fog and a swimming pool add to the challenge. And no matter where you take this iPhone version of the hit game, the fun never dies!