This week's big Fortnite news - and there is big Fortnite news every week - is that Tilted Towers might be getting nuked. Well, not nuked exactly, but hit by a meteor, a biographical event from which it is unlikely to emerge unchanged. Meteors often explode with a strength measured in relation to nuclear blasts, and there is a lovely decisive finality to the phrase, so let's go with it. Tilted Towers might be getting nuked. And it should get nuked. Fortnite should definitely nuke Tilted Towers.
I was talking to friend of Eurogamer Simon Parkin a while before Tilted Towers started to look like it might be in trouble, and he explained to me how Fortnite has subtly changed the things he tells his kids in order to keep them safe. "Now," he said, "Parenting 101 is look both ways before crossing the road and stay the f*** out of Tilted Towers."
He added that his advice relating to Fortnite is rarely heeded. His sons play for an hour a day, and they often kick things off by asking, "Shall we go Tilted?" Often, they do go Tilted. They are part of the problem.
So am I, and so is almost everyone who plays Fortnite, I think, which is another way of saying that Tilted Towers is one of the biggest, most intractable problems with Fortnite as a whole. Tilted Towers is essentially a small skyscraper district on the map. It's a few streets, a few large buildings, a belltower in which nothing good ever happens if you find yourself drawn to it. Tilted Towers is great fun at first because it offers the highest vistas on the map. You land on a roof and hopefully grab a sniper's rifle and you are off to the Fortnite races. It seems to have a knack for drawing the best loot, too, so there's killing and shopping available. Fortnite's one of those games where I never feel like I am where I want to be unless I have a sniper rifle in my arsenal. You need a rifle and you need somewhere to aim from. Tilted Towers offers a solution to both these things.
But at what price? The price, increasingly, of being shot from someone you never had a chance of seeing. The price of being dropped directly into the meat grinder as everyone and their brother or sister decides to Go Tilted. Tilted Towers is just too appealing, particularly when a Snipers Only event is running. And even if you step back a little, the chain of mountains that run around it are too appealing, as well. You don't need to Go Tilted to Go Tilted. You can go to the outskirts of Tilted and shoot inwards.
The problem here - and I reckon this is why Fortnite's developers are thinking of acting - is that Tilted is so powerful a draw that where to deploy on the map becomes a binary thing: shall I head for Tilted or shall I head for somewhere that is not Tilted? It sucks people towards it like the Great Attractor, it renders interesting choices less interesting. It's so central to the map it's always a good bet both for the passing of the Battle Bus and the shrinking of the storm-eye. And it also generates the same kind of action each time - lots of scrambling for a rooftop, lots of snipers, lots of getting your brains blown out from nowhere. I love the fact that landing on the house in the middle of Loot Lake offers the same kind of story each time - one in the attic, one in the house - but that story asks a question that can be answered in a variety of interesting ways: how do you live in close proximity with an enemy who is possibly as tooled-up as you are? Tilted Towers tends to be distance kills and attrition. It is tense - is this possible? - without being energising and exciting.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm seeing Tilted Towers through the lens of my deeply meager skills as an enthusiastic but broadly hopeless Fortniter. What's definitely true though is that the potential destruction of Tilted Towers is a chance to see Fortnite at its very best. Strange rumbles underfoot, a comet shining in the sky, a cryptic message spelled out on the map: I love the very obvious joy with which Fortnite's developers are building tension within the game world, and I love the trust they have in their audience to put everything together. Whatever happens to Tilted, it's going to be an event - I'm going to rush online with the rest of players when the news hits Reddit and I'm going to marvel at the fact that I won't know what to expect.
I can sense the excitement already. Last night I landed on a little hill with a shack and a basketball court and a shipping crate. Over by the edge of a cliff, I saw a bunch of telescopes pointed at the heavens. Something is coming! And I hope it blows Tilted Towers into tiny pieces.