My son is disguised as a giant banana and throws hamburgers at me. I take my short vacation with a quad made of solid gold. Exceptionally, none of us have access to automatic weapons.
No, our home school regime has not taken a dark turn. This is Party Royale, the all-new Fortnite mode that prohibits lethal violence and focuses on messing around and participating in non-lethal competitions ̵
Party Royale kicks off on May 8 with an in-game party featuring live appearances by Steve Aoki and Deadmau5 and starts like every Fortnite: Battle Royale session – with dozens of online players landing on a remote island. Then, instead of looking for weapons before shooting each other until there is only one left, Party Royale players can do what they want. It’s a smaller environment than the main game, but there are still rolling fields, meandering rivers, and a small town full of fast food restaurants. Vending machines distribute paint guns, piston arches and other comedy projectiles that can be used to attack players, but no one is hurt – they are only covered with shiny gloop or burger sauce.
There are also many small challenges everywhere. Here you can climb aboard a speedboat and whiz through a series of markings to set the fastest possible time. There you can jump through a time slot and then jump through a series of pneumatic tires – like the classic Nintendo game PilotWings. Every activity has a high score table that players can aim at, so there’s still a competitive element, but while we were playing, nobody seemed to be that serious considering the number of quad bikes and speed boats that entered the Landscape.
Epic Games says there will be live events on a regular basis and there will be a separate concert area; This is reminiscent of Second Life. This huge online metaverse experiment, which led to much fanfare and fascination in 2003, was billed as an exploratory virtual social space with its own culture and economy – and over the next decade, many music artists and theater groups gave virtual performances within its ever-changing world World. But the technological demands of the service, along with the impossibility of moderating such a large space, led to problems and controversy, from cyber fraud to riots to swarms of flying penises.
Second Life is still running and there’s a VR equivalent called Sansar, but it’s much quieter now and it’s definitely an adult-only room. Party Royale, where the pictures are bright and toy-like, and most of the communication takes place via short dances like the famous Floss and Electro Shuffle, feels much more like the Red Bull-eating little brother of Second Life. It is the virtual world as a bouncy castle.
At the moment, you can stop by for an hour and run over the map with a few friends, shoot each other from the cannons of the pirate ship in Buccaneer Bay, or throw burgers at a speedboat. But Epic clearly wants to host events and competitions in the future, and this would be a great place for movie trailer premieres.
Players cannot currently install the mode, but that could change. Perhaps Party Royale could be combined with Fortnite’s creative mode, which allows players to build their own buildings and race challenges. There are currently phone booths on the map where you can change your outfits. Maybe one day, participants can design and trade clothing, custom emotes, or spray paint tags.
We’ve seen this happen before in the form of PlayStation Home, a gamified online multiplayer metaverse that arrived one year after it launched on PlayStation 3. For several years, PlayStation owners have been able to decorate their own virtual clubhouses, explore a virtual mall, and make real purchases from fashion brands and furniture companies. Millions of PS3 owners have tried the service, but it has never sparked interest or commercial support from players, and was closed in 2015.
But now, with 350 million players accustomed to hanging out in a vibrant, ridiculous online world full of dancing bananas and comic skirmishes, Party Royale could be the experience that finally realizes the idea of a playful, online, mass-participation metaverse. Right now with a whole generation of teenagers desperate to go somewhere Where their parents can’t or don’t want to follow them, it’s pretty much a stroke of luck.