Science-Fiction Weekly – Aven Colony, Fortnite, Thor: Ragnarok, Blade Runner 2049

Next to anything carrying the hallowed Star Wars name, Blade Runner 2049 is my most anticipated upcoming film. The first entry in the series showed us a dystopian society set in the year 2019. The sequel takes us decades into the future, leaving plenty of room for the world and the rules within it to change. This significant gap in time is no longer a mystery. A new Facebook video walks us through the key moments in history that lead up from 2018 to 2049. Here's a breakdown of the timeline:

2018
After a bloody mutiny by a Nexus 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants are declared illegal on Earth 
 under penalty of death.

2019
A prototype Replicant, Rachael, and Officer Rick Deckard, a Blade Runner, escape Los Angeles together.

2020
After the death of founder Eldon Tyrell, the Tyrell Corporation rushes a new line of Nexus 8 Replicants onto the market for use Off-world. Unlike previous Nexus models, built with 4-year lifespans, the Nexus 8s have open-ended lifespans, as well as ocular implants for easy identification.

2022 –The Blackout
An EMP of unknown origin detonates somewhere in the West Coast. Cities are shut down for weeks. Electronic data is corrupted or destroyed over most of the United States. Finance and trade markets crash worldwide. Food supplies become dire. Theories spread as to the cause of the Blackout; none are proven. The most popular blame Replicants.

2023 – Replicant Prohibition
The governing authorities legislate an indefinite “prohibition” on Replicant production. Nexus 6 models are now all decommissioned due to their programmed 4-year lifespans. Surviving Nexus 8 models are to be retired. Those that can, go into hiding.

2025
Idealistic scientist Niander Wallace pioneers advancements in genetically modified food and shares his patents for free, marking an end to a global crisis. His company, Wallace Corporation, E&C, expands across the globe – and into the Off-world colonies.

2028
Niander Wallace acquires the remains of the bankrupt Tyrell Corporation.

2030s
Niander Wallace improves upon Tyrells’ genetic engineering and memory implantation methods to make Replicants obedient and controllable.

2036
Prohibition is repealed. Wallace reintroduces a new line of “perfected” Replicants – The Nexus 9.

Early 2040s
The LAPD commits additional resources to bolster its existing Blade Runner unit, tasked with locating illegal Replicants – and retiring them.

2048

2049
When we return to Los Angeles, 30 years after the original movie, climate change has caused the sea level to rise dramatically. A massive Sea Wall has been built along the Sepulveda Pass to protect the Los Angeles basin. Los Angeles is even more uninhabitable than before and filled with poverty and sickness. Humans, who were not well enough to leave for the Off-world colonies, are left behind. There is no fresh food, and inhabitants survive on Wallace’s genetically modified food products sold from vending machines at street markets.

All of this sounds awesome. The development of Replicants sounds like a wonderful mess, and I can't wait to see where it goes next on the big screen.

Thor: Ragnarok is another film falling into my "looks too good to be true" camp. The latest trailer is hilarious, beautiful, interesting, and unlike anything Marvel Studios has delivered. I hope these trailers speak to the true direction of the film. Thor moving more into the "wacky cosmic" area of the Marvel universe is fine with me. You can view the new trailer below:

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My enthusiasm for new science-fiction experiences does not extend to this week's new video game releases, Aven Colony and Fortnite. Both games are interesting for very different reasons, but neither has hooked me in the early hours.

Aven Colony is a science-fiction city building game that seems fairly directionless. Building structures is a breeze, as most of them are tethered together, and figuring out where to mine is equally as intuitive, thanks to helpful overlays highlighting the available resources. Watching the colony grow is satisfying to a degree, but there really isn't anything that is driving me forward. I haven't run into any hazards yet, and the game does maybe too good of a job babysitting your progress – my colony hasn't had an issue yet. I'll spend more time with it, but I have yet to bond with my colony in the same way I do my metropolises in the Sim City games. Watching them grow in size is far more engaging than anything I've seen in Aven Colony thus far.

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Fortnite has a ton of potential. I like the cartoony art style (which oddly reminds me of Borderlands meets Skylanders meets Telltale's The Walking Dead), and I'm fully on-board with the blend of run-and-gun shooting and base fortification, especially with three friends at my side. Epic does a nice job of streamlining every gameplay mechanic to consume little of your time. Building a wall, swinging a pick axe to mine resources, and jumping into a menu to construct a new weapon all can be completed in a matter of seconds. The gameplay is slick, easy to grasp, and is nicely polished so far. I'm hooked on the base building, trap laying, and hunt for better resources – which can turn a rickety wood wall into a heavily fortified metal structure. The gunplay just isn't doing it for me. Epic makes each battle seem somewhat intense, either through overwhelming numbers of zombies, or a heavier unit that needs to be dealt with quickly. None of the weapons have a satisfying "pop" so far. Even the rocket launcher underwhelms, but at least deals a nice degree of damage. I also haven't felt the need to move much. I keep building traps that slow the foes down, and just stand in front of them, either dealing final blows to them, or watching them die in my machines. I'm sure the difficulty will escalate as more territory is unearthed, but it's a slow burn out of the gate, even with a fun, little narrative being sewn into a lot of it.

I'll definitely stick with Fortnite and will report back next week with further impressions. If you have an Xbox One and Fortnite, email me at (reiner@gameinformer.com), or find me on Xbox One (Reinak), and join my settlement.

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That's it for this week, folks. I hope the remainder of the workdays treat you well, and you get the chance to game it up on your days off and the weekend. See you again in seven days.

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