Tag: promotional level

Avenged Sevenfold’s “Free For All” in Fortnite, and a story about modern crossovers.

You know, for a few years I had no interest in Fortnite. I played it a bit here and there, but mostly thought of it as a thing that wasn’t really for me, that whole building-while-shooting being the biggest barrier to entry for me. Shoot a guy and suddenly they’ve built a whole castle for defense just feels old. Then developer Epic Games introduced Zero Build, which got rid of that. That, combined with Chapter 4: Season 1 introducing the Doom Slayer from Doom and Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher, were the moments whereme and my friends got hooked on Fortnite.

With Chapter 5: Season 1 currently going as I write this, where they introduced LEGO Fortnite (their rival to Mojang’s Minecraft), Rocket Racing (a racing mode by Psyonix, the makers of Rocket League) and Fortnite Festival (Harmonix bringing the Rock Band formula to Fortnite), I’ve basically abandoned my nature of being a gaming hipster and not following the current gaming trends to go for what amounts to the new hotness. Granted, Fortnite is 7 years old as of this writing, but I still think it’s the “in-thing”.

While Epic (and the myriad of studios they own) have been creating their own unique games within the system, I’d been curious what the Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN) worlds are like, where people can make their own creations within the Fortnite universe. Most of the time it’s ripoffs of existing games like Deathrun and Gun Game, but other times it’s filled with promotions by notable brands. Honda had a driving experience for one of their cars, for example. I remember playing an experience based on hip hop musician THE KID LAROI that was mostly forgettable. In this case, we get to talk about another notable musician who capitalizes on the hottest trends.

Avenged Sevenfold’s “We Love You” is what it says on the tin: A map featuring an arena from the music video of the titular song, released by the band back around summer 2023. This was hyped up through the band’s social media pages, with it being announced on January 12, 2024.

Now, Avenged Sevenfold is a band that I’m really only familiar with because of their ubiquitous appearances in rhythm games. I swear, every Guitar Hero and Rock Band game came with an Avenged Sevenfold song on the set list, which means I got to hear songs like “Almost Easy” and “Beast and the Harlot” a billion times. They’re a perfectly fine metal band otherwise, probably the modern day equivalent to what Metallica was back in the ‘90s: A metal band that’s just mainstream enough that even people not into the genre can enjoy them, but otherwise very shallow for anyone really well versed in the metal genre.

Mods and Maps: Soldier of Fortune, Inc. for Quake — Not *that* Soldier of Fortune.

A few months back, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Bethesda re-released the id Software classic Quake on modern systems and the PC. Ported to the versatile KEX Engine by Nightdive Studios, it added the base game, the two official Mission Packs, the MachineGames developed Dimension of the Past made for the 20th anniversary in 2016, and a newly made expansion, Dimension of the Machine, also by MachineGames.

Going back through Quake was a nice nostalgia trip, and while I had already played through the game countless times in the past – most recently in June to test out the fan-made Copper rebalance mod – It felt good going through the tech bases and castles with nailguns and the Thunderbolt once again.

The official port has licensed mod support, similar to the Unity-powered Doom remasters on these same platforms from a year or two back, with Midway’s port of Quake to the Nintendo 64 being the first supported mod. Though it does also support some older Quake mods if they were just simple levels and not involving complex scripting from recent source ports, which means stuff like the oft-praised Arcane Dimensions don’t work in the remaster yet.

Colored lighting on Quake 64, at the cost of more boxier level geometry. A fair trade, honestly.

It made me think of many old custom levels from the early days of modding, and one that I thought of was during that wild west period, when map makers would offer to make stuff based on licensed properties as free promotion. One of which was based on a TV show that most of you probably don’t remember.

Kinda hard to watch this show nowadays, but okay.

Soldier of Fortune, Inc. for Quake is not what you think it is. It has nothing to do with the later 2000 game by Raven Software. Rather, this three-level pack existed as a promotion for a television show, back in those days when people could just make custom levels and have them officially sponsored by those companies, akin to stuff like Chronic for Quake III Arena made to promote The Marshall Mathers LP.

But what is Soldier of Fortune, Inc.? SOF was a TV series created by Dan Gordon, an ex-Israel Defense Force soldier turned screenwriter, produced by Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and Rysher Entertainment. Named after the magazine of the same name, SOF was an action series involving a rag-tag group of soldiers trying to stop various people doing the bad things. In essence, it was a modern-day Mission: Impossible. It often aired in late-evening time slots alongside shows like Baywatch, which meant it was made to be one of those shows that tried to capture some of the Baywatch audience by also being an action-packed romp.

The show did get renamed for the second season, losing the Soldier of Fortune branding. Now called SOF: Special Ops Force, the show had a few notable cast changes, including basketball player Dennis Rodman playing a supporting character and Peter Graves doing an introductory narration, further leaning into the Mission: Impossible trappings. The show ended in 1999 after that second season, being mostly forgotten by the general populace.

I was reminded of this show’s existence thanks to a podcast. It Was a Thing on TV – a TV obscurities podcast hosted by a few of my game show colleagues – had recently done an episode on Thunder in Paradise, another short-lived action show starring Hulk Hogan and Chris Lemmon stopping evil villains on beachfronts. Much like Soldier of Fortune, Inc., Thunder in Paradise was trying to capture the Baywatch crowd, but wasn’t successful at it either, only having one sole 22-episode season.

Thunder in Paradise would get a video game adaptation for the Philips CD-i and DOS that was during the peak of full motion video, using an episode from the TV series but with more footage shot for the game. It made me think of similar action shows from the ’90s that got video game adaptations, and suddenly I started thinking about how a similar action show somehow got a custom level pack for Quake, back when that was a thing that could happen. Nowadays those same entertainment companies just cut a check to Activision to put John Rambo in Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War for $25, complete with low-quality sound bites from the movies.