The new season of Fortnite is off to an interesting start, removing building from its main game mode temporarily. As we christen a fresh Battle Pass, here are some suggestions for the battle royale’s Locker.
One night, as I flipped through the Item Shop in Fortnite, I saw Boba Fett doing the Gangnam Style dance, right there on my television, and I knew a seal was broken. Epic Games’ juggernaut has already shattered through barriers of copyright laws and intellectual property ownership to mash together half of the western world’s pop culture into one huge, insane melting pot. Ariana Grande and Spider-Man can team up to brutalize the Stranger Things Demogorgon with assault rifles, then do the Dougie afterward. We practically live in Ready Player One at this point.
So let’s lean into it a little. Here are some recommendations for other IPs and franchises that would be a perfect fit for Fortnite (or at least a better fit than Michonne and… well, any dancing emote in the game, ever).
5) Image Comics
You could be forgiven for forgetting that Marvel and DC aren’t the only comic publishers in the world, given how they dominate box office discussions, but there are plenty of other comic series that would make great fodder for the Fortnite skin machine—namely from the Image Comics family.
Most people will think immediately of Spawn, as arguably the biggest breakout title from Image in the 90s and the title that cemented Todd McFarlane‘s independent career. His various forms, allies, and adversaries would make a great theme for the Item Shop, or even a Battle Pass alongside a roster of original characters like Foundation’s crew. While the source material leans on the violent side, this hasn’t stopped Fortnite from adapting similar franchises in the past.
Image Comics is also home to Invincible, which seems an obvious choice as well given the adaptation’s new season is looming somewhere on the horizon. But personally I’d like to see a pull from Top Cow Comics, an Image imprint: Witchblade, and other associated characters like the Darkness and Angelus. Their sensational designs are a great fit for Fortnite‘s art style, depending on the Witchblade’s form, and Jackie Estacado has already starred in a pair of pretty successful video games himself.
4) Other Anime Properties
That being said, sometimes Fortnite goes far outside its own art style to bring us crossovers like the recent Naruto theme and other cel-shaded anime characters. Previously, the difference in aesthetics might have made adding characters from other anime or manga franchises seem unlikely, but once again, this seal is now broken. Why not embrace it and diversify the offerings?
Bleach, Demon Hunter, Dragon Ball Z, Fullmetal Alchemist—there’s no shortage of series that could fit the bill, being recognizable enough to appeal to a cross-section of kids and parents. Each has a huge roster that characters could be drawn from, many with multiple forms which could be offered as alternate, unlockable styles. If Naruto can ninja-run across the Island, we should also be able to ambush him as Ichigo, Goku, or Edward Elric and take his ramen.
3) Unreal Tournament
Looking at the bright visuals and kooky characters of Fortnite (especially all the food-based ones), it’s hard to believe that it’s made by the same company that used to be known for gritty shooting games back in the mid-90s. But yes, long before the Island and the Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament was one of the most prevalent shooting games around and a comparable multiplayer phenomenon to today’s battle royale scene.
Epic Games could have a little fun at its own expense with an Unreal Tournament theme—for the Item Shop at least, if not for the theme of an entire season, like the current “no building” experiment. Skins mocking the old janky models of Xan Kriegor, Brock, or Gorge; adding new game modes with homages to the older series; or even just finding ways to sneak that iconic announcer into the mix would all contribute to some kind of hypothetical Epic Games anniversary event, akin to what Bungie recently did with Destiny 2.
2) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
What’s one of the biggest trends among pop culture entities already absorbed into Fortnite? They were popular in the 80s or 90s, when many adult gamers and parents were kids. And what was bigger at that time than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Who are still in comic publication, still featured in toys and crossover media, and never far from a new iteration in either film, television, or both, and thus eternally on the fringe of the cultural zeitgeist?
Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo would make perfect sense for Fortnite skins, with their signature weapons as harvesting tools—and how cool would it be to roll into a Squads game with all four brothers? Their countless different iterations, from the original Eastman & Laird comics to the Michael Bay-produced films, could be made into different Style options, perfect fodder for Battle Pass bonus rewards. And don’t forget iconic supporting cast members like April O’Neil, Master Splint, Casey Jones, Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, and even the Foot Clan.
Plus, it would be somehow fitting to see these characters running around with any variety of weapon, after outcry from outraged parents led to the second feature film, Secret of the Ooze, featuring only fist-fights. (Because a katana is so much more accessible to the average schoolchild than, y’know, fists.)
1) Custom Character Builders
Psyche! The last item on this list isn’t a video game or movie, but rather something original and totally customizable.
Much like I can spend considerable time browsing the Netflix library without actually watching something, I usually browse idly through the Item Shop and Battle Pass whenever I log in, which admittedly isn’t that often. Recently, I stumbled upon the Boundless set and was amazed that, yes, indeed, there is some degree of custom character creation in this game—also seen to an extent in the Banner Brigade set, and the limited edition Tech Specialist Maya skin from Chapter 2 Season 3.
Often I’ll see a skin that I like, but there will be some small detail that turns me off from actually plunking down my meagre supply of V-Bucks on it. It’s often the outfit I like, while the character themselves isn’t something I want to run around in-game as, because they might not represent me; the stars rarely align for me in this regard and I end up sticking with pop culture skins. The Boundless set let me choose a colour scheme I like in a somewhat representative form, and it’s something I’d much rather chase down than more Peely variations.
To an extent, this is surely a deliberate move to inspire more sales, and that’s par for the course in a “free-to-play” game like this. But at the same time, how much damage could it cause to add a straight-up character creator? Allow players to create a proper avatar to suit their self-image—Tiny Tina’s Wonderland just provided a great example of how to do this—and serve as their base representation in the game. Then let them run around as that avatar or as a bipedal fishstick, whichever suits their current mood.
Given how many pop culture properties are being assimilated into Fortnite, it might just be a matter of time before (most) of these suggestions could come to pass. The question is, will they run out of Marvel and DC characters before they implement these?