The hottest game in the world has teamed up with one of the biggest movie franchises around, and while it's technically a marketing ploy, damn if it isn't a good one. This is the most fun I've ever had with Fortnite.
"Infinity Gauntlet" is a new limited time mode available in Fortnite that can only be played solo. The overall rules of Battle Royale still apply: It's you versus 99 other people, and you only have one life.
The twist is that every match has a comet containing Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet. You'll be able to see it no matter where you are, and once it collides with the map, the game becomes a race to see who can equip it first.
The player who does will then transform into Thanos, a big bad you might know from a little series called The Avengers.
Thanos is extremely powerful. He can't build or use guns, but is instead equipped with four major abilities. He has a punch that can wreck humans and structures alike. He can fly and cause knockback damage when he falls. He can shoot a laser. And he has a super jump.
That isn't all: Thanos has a big stock of health and shields, and that armour replenishes with every kill. Taking him down is pretty hard, even if multiple people are shooting at him.
The Infinity Gauntlet creates a fascinating new dynamic within Fortnite. You still have to worry about other players, yes, but the main problem will always be Thanos.
You might enter a match and die quickly, as enemies mow down anyone that might stand between them and the gauntlet. Or you might be surprised to find that some players kinda leave each other alone, because they know it's useful to team up against Thanos.
Constantly negotiating friendships on the fly like this turns Fortnite into a more fascinating experience. Who do you trust, and why? Should you shoot? While you're performing this mental calculus, make sure to leave some room for knowing where Thanos is, too!
Thanos also adds a wonderful wrinkle to the game. After a few hours of playtime, I still haven't managed to become Thanos - most players haven't:
We've heard your feedback and we're looking to make a few tweaks to give more players the chance to wield the Infinity Gauntlet in the new Limited Time Mash-Up!
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) May 8, 2018
Even so, I've had a blast playing against him. Fortnite is already a tense game, but Thanos intensifies things even further.
At times, this version of Fortnite feels like a horror game. The storm forces everyone into a space where an enemy can easily wipe you out, and the active area constantly becomes smaller. You're always hyper-aware of where Thanos is on the map.
Thanos is also a loud guy: You can hear him bellowing things like "the end is near", and you can see him zipping around or shooting his beam. When Thanos would get too close to me and I wasn't ready, I'd freak out and start running away.
Other times I felt more like a hunter trying to track down my prey. I'm still mad that I nearly had the bastard with my sniper rifle - I'd gotten him down to seven HP - only to have another player shotgun me in the face. Ugh.
Other details heighten the thrill. The storm starts closing in from the very start of the match, for one, and the damage it does is formidable. The first cycle does five per cent of damage, and the rest do 10 per cent. It's very easy to be killed by this environmental hazard, which means the pace of the game tends to be fast.
There's still a bit of downtime near the start, when you first land and try to find some good weapons, but from there, this event feels like a more action-packed version of Fortnite.
Adding to this is the fact that drops are better, too: There are way more Rare, Epic and Legendary weapons; there are more treasure chests; and there are more building resources. It's a lot of fun to reliably mess around with some of the best weapons the game has to offer.
All of this comes together to build Thanos into a fearsome foe, but it's still Fortnite we're talking about. I've seen Thanos dance over a corpse, and I've seen him hide in a Port-a-Fort. Things can still get silly here, which is good, because it wouldn't feel like Fortnite otherwise.
— UKNN CHANCE (@UKNNChance) May 8, 2018
Epic has not announced how long this crossover will last, but it is a limited time event. Bummer. I love the way this mode turns Fortnite upside down and transforms it into something new and exciting, and could easily see this working without Thanos, too. Hopefully Epic keeps it around in some way after the initial promotion is over.
You can read the full 4.1 patch notes here. Since this morning, Epic has tweaked Thanos to have fewer shields, a bigger health pool and smaller laser damage in the hopes of increasing how many players get to don the gauntlet.