I wish I still had time to raid in Destiny. There was a period where I played little else, night after night, wrapped up in the adventures of Eurogamer's Des Tiny OMG clan. One day I realised my PS4's disc eject button had stopped working and called up PlayStation's support line. How long had it been faulty, they asked? No idea, I said, I hadn't tried to take Destiny's disc out since the previous year.
The last week in Fortnite has given me the tiniest taste of all that again, with its Storm King raid boss mode. Fortnite was founded in PVE, of course, and the Storm King is actually the endgame of its grindy Save the World portion. Now, just for Halloween, it has been tweaked and transposed into Battle Royale for the masses to try.
Eight players are matchmade onto a small island within the main Fortnite map where the Storm King suddenly sprouts forth from the ground - a tornado in demon form, all horns and claws and Fortnite brand purple. He's the first proper boss Battle Royale has yet seen, and the latest evolution of Fortnite's traditionally PVP section offering avenues for PVE play.
There are damage phases, of course, as you work to target weak points before a full-on DPS assault on the Storm King's horns, which must be broken off one by one. There are adds to kill for better loot and ammo, and spawners which need to be kept on top of. The Storm King himself, meanwhile, has a selection of clearly telegraphed attacks which can lob boulders, rain down meteors, wipe away all floor loot/buildings, and - most deadly - target players with a death ray.
I say clearly telegraphed - it has been fun to see the Fortnite audience grapple with this mode. It is a challenging fight and enjoyably so, though far fewer rounds ended in wins than losses. (Also, an important aside - it did not give you long enough to celebrate your win in a dance party afterwards - an important Destiny tradition.) The community took a while, I think, to get to grips with some of its finer mechanics - to properly use the bouncer pads around the perimeter and space out to avoid attacks, to save turrets for DPS, to keep an even focus on the adds and boss itself.
And there were, of course, some players who simply wanted to watch the world burn. The Storm King mode does not end until the last player is KO'd even if it is near impossible to solo the boss' final stage. But to those people who gave up early, and who enjoyed picking up and throwing knocked players (those down but still revivable) to their death outside of the storm circle, there's a special place in hell for you.
But it was encouraging to see the vast majority of players work co-operatively - to scoop up and carry those needing reviving to safety, and heal them after. Online, there was a concerted calls to report misbehaving players for unsporting behaviour. To those players dealing stocks of Chug Splashes or sacrificing an extra item slot to hold a Bandage Bazooka, thank you. And I was delighted to see the many players on r/FortniteBR last night stepping up to help others still needing a win (and the mode's exclusive Victory Umbrella) before it disappeared, in the true tradition of raid sherpas.
Mostly, I was just impressed by how Fortnite continues to reinvent itself. PVE, PVP, PVE again? The game seems bounded only by what continues to be fun. Just please, give me more time to celebrate next year.