Fortnite Is Still Obsessed With Marvel And It’s Getting Boring

Fortnite is back! Well, it never left, but this week saw the arrival of Chapter 3 – Season 2: Resistance. It’s an awkwardly titled release given the ongoing situation in Ukraine, but with Epic Games donating all proceeds to humanitarian efforts until April 3 the terrible timing has become a little easier to swallow. Millions has been raised and that’s awesome.

My biggest bone to pick with Resistance is how it once again leans on licences to sell itself, with original ideas and storytelling being truncated beneath a tidal wave of Marvel cameos. All of the original characters debuting this season look amazing, especially the anime catgirl who I will with absolutely no shame try to unlock. Yes, I am that predictable.

But at the centre of things sits Doctor Strange, who is likely rolled into this season as a way for both Disney and Epic Games to advertise the coming release of In the Multiverse of Madness. It makes perfect sense, we’ve seen Fortnite used as a place to advertise Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Dune, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and goodness knows what else before.

It is also one of the purest forms of a metaverse we’ve seen thus far, with global megastars like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott performing to millions of players simultaneously. They aren’t live performances, but give off the same level of cultural importance that missing them feels like a big deal. Epic Games would be foolish not to capitalise on its own popularity with crossovers like this, showcasing that it is more than happy to follow the money instead of building upon its own artistic merit.

I’m well aware that Fortnite has a long-running storyline involving an ever-changing island and all manner of nefarious forces competing against one another, but even this is dominated by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson acting as one of the central characters. Troy Baker is also there playing a generic blonde dude from the original cover art, but goodness knows what happened to him. Probably off to the side hauling NFTs or something.

Prowler is also there, a villain who is probably best known for his appearances from Into The Spider-Verse and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Yet another Marvel character, with this one also acting as a piece of promotion for the upcoming Morbius. I guess he’s a vigilante and that ties in with the Resistance angle, but I can’t help but feel a more distinct character would better fit the bill. Prowler isn’t for me, and neither is Doctor Strange – both of which look like bootlegs you’d find in the local market.

For several seasons now Fortnite has arrived with an array of exciting new ideas, but these always feel buried beneath whatever big names are on the battle pass. Rick & Morty basically helmed an entire season, while an earlier one saw a majority of the Avengers rolled into a single pass for players to unlock. All of them played differently and had their own merits, but much like Doctor Strange, they feel like glorified cameos with no overriding purpose. If you’re not into the big film coming out this season you’re shit out of luck.

Maybe that’s why each pass is outfitted with a number of original characters and cosmetics, with Epic Games trying to strike a balance between its crossover appeal and something that those who aren’t interested in all that stuff to dig into. I’m not against all the licensed skins in the slightest, it took me literal seconds to purchase Arcane’s Vi when here butch lesbian ass rolled up into the battle royale.

I’ve done the same for several others, so I think the presence of such skins aren’t the problem, it’s the frequency of which Fortnite relies upon this. It’s a direct symptom of its success, with companies wanting to work with the game to promote their upcoming products and releases to millions of players. The game raised $36 million for Ukraine in a matter of hours, so that’s the sort of money we’re playing with each time a new battle pass rolls around. Epic Games is making untold amounts of profit, so I’m likely complaining to a brick wall about one of the world’s biggest games failing to be more original in its crossovers.

Fortnite is massive. Marvel is massive. So the two are naturally going to co-exist like this. I just wish their continued relationship hadn’t become so predictable. Let the next chapter be WWE themed or something, at least then I’d have a reason to care.

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