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Fortnite Save the World has a communication problem. At its core, Epic Games’ title – which will be free-to-play later in 2018, but currently requires you to pay for Early Access on PC, PS4 and Xbox One – is an ebullient third-person shooter with crafting, survival and tower-defense elements. Sounds good, right? You”d expect that from the team that created Gears of War. Regrettably, there’s a catch. All of Fortnite Save the World’s juicy co-operative gameplay is obscured beneath a messy spaghetti bowl of menus, systems and meta-game features that are poorly explained by a handful of half-baked tutorials.
Fortnite Battle Pass Challenges guideFortnite Tier 100 Challenge guideFortnite weapons guide
If you bought Fortnite Save the World with the simple intention of shooting some zombies and building cool fortresses with friends, this tidal wave of clutter can subsequently act as a major put-off. But all is not lost. After spending a fair amount of time with the game, I’ve jotted down a few simple tips and tricks in order to help you cut through the noise and get to the good stuff more quickly (the good stuff being headshots, explosions and turning scrap into elaborate strongholds of death).
Looking for help with Fortnite”s free 100 player Battle Royale PvP mode? Then make sure you check out our Fortnite tips.
Is Fornite free-to-play? What”s the best entry package?
Guess what? It turns out that even buying the game arrives with some complications. Epic intends to eventually release Fortnite as a free-to-play title, but enjoying it in early access form currently requires an up-front fee. There’s a range of different packages on offer, but I strongly suggest getting the most basic one; the standard founder’s pack. While it’s tempting to invest in all the bonuses included with the deluxe option, doing so will result in you being bombarded with a tidal wave of items before even being taught how to use them. With the founder’s pack, you’ll still have what you need to survive, but rewards are dished out at a more gradual rate, giving you the space to familiarise yourself with Fortnite’s different item types without being overwhelmed.
Llama piñatas are loot boxes with attitude
Clearly not content with the regular ol’ loot box as a means of player progression in Fortnite, Epic’s take on the popular free-to-play mechanic comes in the form of llama piñatas, acquired through levelling up or with real, and in-game, currency. Whacking a pinata brings the promise of new items bursting forth from within its papier-mâché exterior, but there’s more to it than the press of a button. If you hit a llama and it turns silver, the potential rarity of its contents is significantly upped. If it turns gold when whacked again, that’s when you’ve really hit the jackpot. A gold piñata is guaranteed to contain a veritable bounty of items, including extremely rare goodies like new heroes or powerful weapons.
Stay armed and dangerous at all times
So, let’s talk about your armoury. Any hero can use any weapon type, but the weapons themselves can be upgraded, recycled and valued on the basis of their rarity. Fortnite is a crafting game, so your weapons won’t last forever, and will eventually break once their durability runs out. The most sensible course of action is to recycle a low durability weapon for parts, before it breaks and completely disappears for good. If you’re a big fan of a particular weapon, don’t worry. Weapon schematics are a regular drop from piñatas, and these let you craft particular weapons as much as you want, providing you have enough resources. Running out of ammo? You can craft that too. Just hold square while in-game and you can conjure up a decent amount of bullets in no time.
Micromanaging survivors might be boring, but it is useful
Fortnite’s most egregious, needless meta-game feels more like a chore than a good time, but it”s an effective way to hold an edge against the undead nonetheless. As you progress, you’ll pick up survivors in the form of piñata drops, each of whom will possess different stats and characteristics. These guys can be deployed into your survivor squad, and doing so will buff your main character with 20% worth of their stats, in addition to providing certain support and tactical bonuses. Then there’s defender squads and expedition squads, the former of which will place AI guards to protect your home base while the latter allows you to send out survivors to gather resources and level them up. If managed correctly, survivors are a valuable means of boosting your character, base and inventory in Fortnite, so try not to ignore them.
The skills system is a lot less complex than you think
When you first open up the perks menu, the elaborate network of trees and tiers is enough to warrant a zombie moan of despair. Stay calm; it’s not as bad as it looks. The four tiers at the top are for levelling up specific hero classes, and each tier tree intentionally branches out to allow you to specialize with any particular class. As for the research tiers, these can be used to improve more general things like health or offense stats. It’s poorly designed, and it looks a lot messier than it should, but treat Fortnite’s skill trees like you would any other and you should get the hang of it after a while.
Got a lot of duplicates? Use the collection book
As is the way with free-to-play games, it’s likely that you’ll come across the same item twice when smashing all those llama pinatas in Fortnite, be it a survivor, weapon schematic or anything else. Instead of letting the unused items just sit there, Fortnite allows you to place them permanently in the collection book – a sort of digital sticker book where you can leisurely pore over all your accumulated wares. Every item placed in the collection gives you XP, but once it”s in there, you can’t ever get it back. The book therefore represents a smart means of inventory management, allowing you to get rid of any duplicates while earning a decent wad of experience points along the way.
Luckily, shooting and building is a breeze
Once you’ve emerged from its tangled labyrinth of menus, Fortnite’s ‘gather, craft, shoot’ gameplay loop finally has the opportunity to work its magic. The gunplay feels sleek and precise (not a huge shock, considering this is the studio that gave us Gears of War), and the richly coloured visuals are instantly eye-pleasing, even if the game isn’t looking to compete with other triple-A powerhouses when it comes to graphics. Crafting, too, is fairly intuitive once you’ve had the chance to mess around with it. You can pop in and out of build mode whenever you fancy, and can easily set up traps, insert doorways or switch materials on the fly (though console players will be slightly more handicapped without a mouse and keyboard to help them out).
That’s the best and worst thing you can say about Fortnite. Underneath all the clutter, a genuinely fun and addictive gameplay experience beckons. Whether the entertainment value of that core idea is worth wading through said clutter depends on your patience as a player, but Fortnite’s early access status at least presents the opportunity for Epic to improve upon a muddled but promising foundation.
As Overwatch enters its third calendar year, its developers at Blizzard want players to know that the team-based shooter isn”t going stagnant any time soon. The studio released a New Year”s developer update with game director Jeff Kaplan where he teased some of the new bounty we can expect in 2018. You can watch the whole thing above, and read on to see the six things I”m most looking forward to this year.
Blizzard World opens its doors soon
This Hybrid map was first teased at Blizzcon back in November, and we”re getting super close to its debut beyond the test servers. Look forward to hunting down all the little Easter eggs of course (it is set in a fictional Blizzard theme park after all), but also be prepared for some new approaches to level design. More new maps will follow after Blizzard World throughout 2018.
Hero 27 is well on the way
Jeff Kaplan says Blizzard is “well along the path” to Overwatch”s next playable character, who he thinks is “very needed”. We haven”t gotten any new Defense heroes since launch, so that category”s as good a guess as any. Hero 27 is in internal testing right now, and though we don”t have any hint of a release date yet, I doubt we”ll have to wait too long into 2018 to find out more. Kaplan also confirmed that Blizzard has plans for more heroes even after No. 27 arrives.
Competitive Mode may get some big changes
Blizzard typically makes small tweaks to Competitive Mode between each season, like different rules for overtime, but grander changes may be afoot in 2018. “As the year goes on, we want to evolve our plan for what competitive play looks like over the long term of Overwatch, and [whether it takes] a different shape or form,” Kaplan said. I”m a pretty casual competitive player (I am aware of how much that sounds like an oxymoron) so I”m open to pretty much anything, but Blizzard will have a difficult task in pleasing the mode”s many different kinds of players.
Events get bigger, starting with Year of the Dog
The next seasonal event will be the Lunar New Year, and players can expect some “pretty significant content” when Year of the Dog begins (so hopefully not just dog icons pasted over all the old rooster icons). Kaplan confirmed that the Uprising event will reappear later in 2018 – I wasn”t sure, since it”s built around an in-universe event rather than a season or holiday – as well as celebrations for Overwatch”s second anniversary; get ready to unlock all those dance emotes while you can. Those were the only events called out by name, but it”s safe to assume that another round of Summer Games, Halloween Terror, and Winter Wonderland are on the way in 2018 too.
The standard loot selection will grow
“Hopefully sometime this month”, the pool of non-event-exclusive loot will get a sorely needed infusion of new items. Kaplan says it will be “a ton of new content” and you”ll have all the time you need to unlock it… assuming you don”t buy all of it straight off with that pile of credits you”ve been saving up.
The Overwatch League begins
You”re probably already pretty hyped up for the first season of Overwatch League to begin on January 10 if you”re into esports. Blizzard”s ambitious new approach to competitive play has athletes from around the world competing for city-based teams and the pre-season has already produced memorable moments aplenty. If you”re not into esports, hey, at least some of those new team skins look pretty cool.
Spoiler warning: Significant story spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn are below. Read at your own risk, especially if you haven’t started the main quest!
At the end of the world there are no survivors. There are no zombies, no ruthless bandits, no grossly mutated animals roaming the earth. There is nothing. I’m not describing the end of a horror movie: this hopeless image is the foundation Horizon: Zero Dawn is built on. Sounds just as grim as Fallout 4 or The Last Of Us, I know, but Guerrilla’s masterpiece is doing apocalypses completely differently to anything we’ve seen in gaming before. Because instead of making it a story about survival against all odds, the apocalypse in Horizon succeeds. It obliterates every living being and leaves behind but a barren Earth. And you know what? That’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s kind of made the prospect of an apocalypse not as scary as it once was.
A new kind of apocalypse
Hear me out. Unlike typical post-apocalyptic games, you don’t play one of the lone survivors. You don’t have to wade through wreckage and desperate marauders: all the death and destruction is long forgotten by Aloy’s time. Set hundreds of years after the apocalypse, no-one has any idea what happened to the Old Ones. Unlike Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the disaster isn’t in living memory, but is more important than ever to the story.
Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy encouraged me to go looking for my birth parents
I spoke to John Gonzalez, Guerrilla’s Narrative Director. He’s pretty blunt on the subject of the apocalypse. “The idea for Project: Zero Dawn was inspired by my desire to make our apocalypse as bad as it could be,” he said. “I didn’t like the idea that nations had warred with robots, wrecking civilization in the process. That seemed familiar, and worse, did nothing to explain how humans lost knowledge of technology. What we needed, I felt, was an apocalypse so terrible that it created a rupture in history, not just ending civilization, but literally destroying life on earth, reducing it to a barren rock”. I think we can safely say that he got what he wished for.
Learning how the FARO robots went rogue and stripped the earth of all its organic matter for fuel (and yes, that includes humans) is just the beginning. This apocalypse, according to Gonzalez, “gave the robots a purpose: they were agents of the terraforming system. It suggested how humans could have lost technological knowledge: something had gone wrong with the part of the project intended to educate future humans. And it gave me a way to connect Aloy to the past by making her the reincarnation – via cloning – of the system’s creator”. The only reason Aloy can get anywhere near the ancient, yet still somehow functional, technological facilities is because she has the same genetic code as the scientist who orchestrated the whole thing. The worldwide cataclysm isn’t there just for backstory’s sake. After all, what goes around comes around…
In Fallout 4 how the end of the world came about is secondary to the fact that you can shoot super-mutants in ruined museums or live in a town built in a baseball park. Not so with Horizon. The apocalypse is important because, in Gonzalez’s words, “the mysteries of the apocalypse became the mysteries of Aloy’s birth”. Almost everything that we see through Aloy’s eyes has its roots in the apocalypse, from the Goddess her tribe worships to her enigmatic parentage. Speaking to Guerrilla’s Managing Director Herman Hulst about it, he’s clear that it’s “one of those juxtapositions that actually makes the world very interesting. You’re in the present as Aloy and at the same time you go back to knowledge of almost, us”. That’s not forgetting the robots, of course. Having them prowl through the forests is no mistake, as they terraform the earth to make it habitable. They’re direct evidence that the post-apocalypse was planned and engineered. These bags of nuts and bolts prove that the biggest thing that Horizon does differently is that it’s not about keeping the apocalypse at bay. It’s about realising that there’s simply nothing you can do to stop it.
Accept it’s the end. Admit you’re going to die. Move on. Even though those three phrases must sound like someone’s trying to harshly make you come to terms with a serious bereavement, they concisely sum up Horizon’s apocalypse. Instead of being a Michael Bay fantasy about nations warring with each other and explosions shaking the earth, Horizon focuses on what comes after the end, and why it’s worth fighting for. Gonzalez’s passion about this is clear when he mentioned that “one of our big ambitions was to infuse […] the apocalypse that destroys our civilization with emotion, humanity, and humor. We didn’t want solving the mystery of what happened to feel like suffering through a bunch of dry exposition”.
Thanks to Horizon’s audio logs, we’re taken through every single step from the beginning of Project Zero Dawn to its tragic end. “It’s actually very much needed, those audio logs to build out the world,” said Herman when I ask him just how important they are. He goes on to say that they even “had bespoke writers on it that did nothing but create these audio logs. They were a hugely important part of the game”. Through their audio logs we see that even though they know that the planet is going to be reduced to a barren wasteland, the scientists at the centre of Project Zero Dawn dedicate themselves to making sure the world can come back from the brink once it’s all over instead of futilely fighting the robot threat. It’s the ultimate middle finger to the apocalypse, really. Even from the grave humanity still manages to beat FARO Plague into submission… even though homo sapiens become temporarily extinct.
11 things I wish I knew before starting Horizon: Zero Dawn
This isn’t the story of how people managed to survive, but instead tells how humanity’s last moments were dedicated to using the apocalypse as a new start. In place of helping themselves, millions of people – whether knowingly or not – put their lives aside to make the future a better place. Okay, so that sounds like the cheesy line at the end of a feel-good movie. But there’s no sacrificial, heroic helplessness at the end of the world in Horizon. Project Zero Dawn’s true purpose was hidden from the public, who were told that it was a super weapon that could stop the robot horde. It was a lie. Millions of civilian enlistees were encouraged to join the army’s Project Enduring Victory and then basically used as cannon fodder against the robots to buy the scientists more time. Here at least Horizon is similar to other post-apocalyptic tales in the cheeriest way possible: human life is expendable. But it was all done so that people could suppress their survival instincts and selfishness and bring the Earth back to life again. They fought for a future they’d never see.
New beginnings, new ideas
Not to freak you out, but Hulst even thinks the idea is somewhat possible. “At Guerrilla Games our science fiction is always firmly grounded in reality,” he told me. “It’s not that far fetched really, it means there’s a clear link to current day developments and the autonomy of warfare and people talking about the risks of AI taking a life of its own”. He’s not alone in thinking that, either. Gonzalez spoke to me about his research into creating Horizon’s killer robots. “It really was inspired by technologies that are already being developed. Military minds around the world want to automate warfare, empowering robots to make autonomous kill decisions. They want these killer robots to be able to repair themselves and make more of themselves. And they want them to be able to consume biomass as fuel.”
Yet when I spoke to Hulst, he was always certain that Guerrilla wanted something beautiful to come out of the apocalypse. “We’re always trying to come up with these intricate science fiction worlds,” he said. “So we wanted to do that again – but then to pursue beauty instead of to pursue grittiness. So in that sense we did a 180 creatively and we really wanted to create a world that people wanted to spend some time in. So that pursuit of beauty that’s a lot more vulnerable, that”s something that we had to learn as a team”. Yet Aloy’s lush world came at a price. Seeing the hopelessness of the past combined with Aloy’s belief that she can save civilisation from the HADES threat puts everything in perspective. Humanity got its fresh start in the end, created its own world, and lives in relative harmony with the robots. With this new world comes a flood of new ideas about what could have happened to the Old Ones to make them completely disappear from the face of the earth and leave twisted metal structures in their wake.
Instead of being about survival and doggedly salvaging what’s left of civilisation, Horizon shows the freedom that comes with starting from a blank slate. From the ruins and defunct Metal Devils (or, as we know them, human-murdering-robots-that-started-the-apocalypse) come myths, religions, and moral tales about what happened to the Old Ones. Seeing the mythology created around tech that’s second nature to us now – the Nora basically worship an AI – proves that apocalypses can be catalysts for new cultures and ideas that wouldn’t exist without an entire world being crushed beneath a robot plague. So maybe when the world is nearing its end and robots are tapping on your front door, knowing that there could be a future where humanity is given a fresh start, having the world end might not be an entirely bad thing after all.
If you told 8-year-old me we”d be learning details about a new Han Solo movie from leaked Lego kits, I would have paid much closer attention to my X-wing models. But here we are – Star Wars News Net has dug up a series of images that show several unreleased Lego sets that will tie into Solo: A Star Wars Story, and they corroborate a piece of promotional artwork that leaked over the holidays.
There”s Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as new character Kira, and good ol” Chewbacca. Disney told ScreenRant that this artwork is not official, but I suspect Disney may be splitting hairs about the orientation and title placement because extremely similar art shows up on the leaked Lego packaging. Beyond this new look at the characters, the Lego kits themselves give us a new look at several new vehicles and creatures.
Update: We”ve had to remove the images, so do your best with your imaginations.
The Millenium Falcon went through a series of owners before Lando Calrissian lost it to Han Solo in a game of cards, and one of them must have liked blue and white. The box art refers to it as the “Kessel Run Millenium Falcon”, so this could be what the ship looked like when Han made his alleged sub-12-parsec journey. I wonder if we”ll see the Falcon transition to its trademark dingy gray color over the course of the film, or if we can just assume all the paint flaked off by the time Han skipped out on Mos Eisley with a Tatooine farmboy, an old hermit, and a couple droids in tow.
Another picture reveals the design for a new kind of Stormtrooper, which Star Wars News Net calls a “Range Trooper”. Kind of looks like the midway point between a Scout Trooper and a Clone Trooper.
There”s also an alien-looking individual, who apparently pilots a Landspeeder at some point in the film – likely during that big race scene we already know about. Han Solo gets his own Speeder set too.
I”m worried about the prospects for Solo, thanks to that super-late directorial shift. But at least we can rest assured knowing that the tie-in Lego sets already look rad as heck.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoiler-free review
Sure, it’s 2018 but we can’t just up and leave Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the past now, can we? The movie opened up a lot of questions about the franchise, and even saw fit to answer a few for good measure… or maybe not. The burning question of the identity of Rey’s parents was seemingly answered, but according to a new interview, Rian Johnson deliberately left things open for Star Wars 9 to conclusively answer.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Johnson was keen to go over what he’s said before, namely that Rey’s parents were never going to be a big ‘gotcha’ reveal moment, and that Rey would “have to find [her] own place in the world.” Except, that’s not all he had to say.
With an eye towards the future, Johnson revealed that you can never say never when it comes to Star Wars retcons and revelations. After all, *shudder* CGI Original Trilogy Jabba is still a thing. “Anything’s still open, and I’m not writing the next film. [J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio] are doing it,” reveals The Last Jedi director, with an answer which probably has half the Star Wars fanbase sitting up with excitement, and the other half putting their fingers in their ears and screaming la-la-la, I can’t hear you.
It does beg the question as to whether the new trilogy is all that coherent in its storytelling. Surely the story group behind the curtain has it all figured out and won’t let Star Wars 9 inconsistently undermine The Last Jedi’s big moments.
Personally, the ‘mystery’ (if you want to call it that) of Rey’s parents is over and done with. That chapter has been settled and you’d hope that Star Wars 9 doesn’t re-tread that well-worn path after the whispers and wonderings that surrounded the build-up to The Last Jedi. As we all know by now, that’s only going to end in disappointment.
It isn’t all clowns, sewers and red balloons, you know. Alongside the Losers’ Club are the stereotypical teen bullies – the Bowers Gang – fronted by all-round terrible person Henry Bowers. Except he’s even worse than we originally thought, as shown by this deleted scene. Warning: there’s murder and gore aplenty – and it’s definitely NSFW.
The movie shows what sent Henry off the deep end – a humiliating rock-filled defeat – but not the depths he would eventually plummet to (except that well, duh). Thankfully, this deleted scene fleshes it out – pun absolutely intended – somewhat.
Sitting in his friend Belch’s car, Henry is shown to be caked in blood, stalking the Losers’ Club, and practising his best Negan whistle. The true horror is yet to come, though, as the camera pans across the car’s interior to show Belch and Vic with their throats cut and Henry having a chat with them, as you do. Gross.
It’s a shame that this didn’t make the final cut. The movie made it very clear that Henry was a few balloons short of a children’s birthday party but this really hammers home this guy’s chilling villainy.
You’ll be able to replay this scene to your heart’s content once the Blu-ray hits on January 15 but, for now, you’ll have to make do with recoiling in horror at that gruesome scene – and I’m just talking about Henry’s mangy mullet.
For more wild goings-on away from the It movie, check out the story behind Pennywise actor Bill Skarsgard’s bizarre It audition, which involved walking through Los Angeles in full clown make-up, naturally.
There are villains, and then there’s Thanos. The Mad Titan is sure to be the bad guy on everyone’s lips when Avengers: Infinity War rolls around on May 4, 2018. Judging by the directors’ comments, though, I don’t think we’re quite ready for just how much Thanos is going to dominate the third Avengers movie.
Thanos may bear more than a passing resemblance to a squashed grape, but he’s not to be trifled with. Speaking to Sina Weibo (H/T ComicBook.com), co-director Joe Russo was asked which character he’s excited for fans to see. His answer was unequivocal: Thanos.
“I”m most excited for the audience to learn about [Thanos]. I think he”s a very interesting and complex villain. That”s why I like him. That”s why I”m excited for the audience to learn about him. I think his motivations, albeit psychotic, are compelling,” reveals the younger Russo brother.
The definitive guide to Marvel”s Infinity Stones
Thanos’ one-track mind on hunting down the remaining Infinity Stones is surely going to be riveting but, if you want to read between the lines within Joe Russo’s words, the Gauntlet-wearer will completely dominate proceedings: “I think that in a lot of ways this is his movie, so it”s going to be very interesting to see how people respond to Thanos in the film,” he says. A lowkey Thanos movie inside an Avengers movie? Now that is interesting.
Marvel might have finally fixed their big, bad Big Bad problem. I mean, sure, the decade-long build-up to his arrival helps, but having a movie revolve around Thanos (which makes a whole lot of sense when there’s a fourth Avengers flick just around the corner) means everyone – even casual Marvel fans – will know straight away that he’s a big deal. Well played, Marvel. Well played.
Star Trek Discovery has its fair share of fan theories and Easter eggs. Like any other iteration of the show, viewers have poured over the details to try and find clues about what might happen next, or to dig up secrets from below the surface of the story. It’s worth noting now that spoilers follow, so read at your own peril. The most popular theory right now surrounds Voq and Ash Tyler, the Starfleet prisoner who escapes with Lorca at the end of episode 5 – Choose Your Pain. Many fans think that Voq is Tyler, and that he’s all set to infiltrate the Discovery. Sounds mad? Read on and I’ll explain the whole theory.
First of all let’s talk about Ash Tyler. Played by Shazad Latif, he was heavily flagged as a main character before Star Trek aired, in all the pre-release marketing, AND he appears in the main title sequence along with the rest of the prominent players. It’s unusual for a show to introduce a main character late on in the run, and Tyler first surfaces in episode 5, but that wouldn’t be hugely suspicious in itself because Discovery is a split-season so it”s relatively long. Latif was originally cast as Klingon Officer Kol, but switched to play Ash Tyler at some point during the show’s relatively troubled production. Again, this is circumstantial and does happen relatively often, but it adds an air of suspicion to his current role.
Read more: The 20 best Star Trek episodes ever
Now let’s look at Voq. He’s played by an actor listed as Javid Iqbal, and according to IMDB this is his only role in TV or movies. His profile doesn’t even list an actor headshot, but a picture of Voq in all his Klingon glory. How strange. Iqbal could easily be publicity shy, or looking to spoil another twist later in the show, but his profile is very unusual.
This has lead some to speculate that Latif is actually playing Voq, and that Javid Iqbal is just a fake name used by the showrunners to cover up the real identity of the actor portraying Voq. So, why do many think Latif is the one assuming this role? Beyond the fact he was originally slated to play a Klingon? Take a look at this video.
The facial similarities are very striking, and the eyes look incredibly similar too. It’s tough to tell these things beneath such a thick layer of make-up, but it’s equally not hugely far-fetched.
That’s all the casting stuff, but what about the in-show clues? Again, let’s start with Ash Tyler. What do we know about him? He’s allegedly a Starfleet prisoner on board the Klingon vessel that bagged Lorca in episode 5. When Lorca asks him about the lack of bruising on his face, Tyler replies that the captain of the ship – who just happens to be L’Rell, the female Klingon who saves Voq – has taken “a liking to him”. We assume this to mean she keeps him as some kind of pet or sexual plaything, and the savage beating he gives her at the end is very indicative of him exorcising some kind of trauma. However, we only have Tyler’s word for this favour, and we never actually see him interacting with L’Rell. On the surface, his actions suggest Tyler really hated his captor, though, and that beating would appear to be a large hole in this whole theory… if physical violence wasn’t Klingon foreplay. Which it actually is. Maybe Voq was actually just giving L’Rell a rather steamy kiss goodbye. *shudders*
7 questions I have after watching Star Trek Discovery episode 5 Choose Your Pain
Now let’s look at Voq again. Last we saw he’d been stranded on the wreckage of the USS Shenzhou, and rescued by L’Rell, who promised to take him to see the House of Mokai and show him “things he never knew possible”. Interestingly, Voq hasn”t appeared again during the rest of season 1 (part 1). It’s also hugely notable that the captain of the prison vessel in Choose Your Pain just happens to be L’Rell, and that she is descended from a family of spies – the House of Mokai. Even more intriguingly, Voq was leafing through all the Starfleet crew information at the end of episode 4, gathering knowledge of his enemies… or looking for a potential disguise. If Ash Tyler existed and died on the Shenzhu, Lorca wouldn’t have known him as it wasn’t his command.
However, that leaves the small matter of the Klingon Voq transforming into the human Tyler. It’s very feasible that Lorca’s capture and escape could have been orchestrated as a means for getting Tyler on board the Discovery – he does appear to get off the ship with relative ease – but how could Voq become a human?
At the end of episode 4 Voq is told that the House of Mokai would be able to help him get vengeance but that it would cost him “everything”. Given his humble beginnings, and the fact he has lost both his ship and all his allies, the only thing Voq has left to lose is his Klingon identity. And becoming human would certainly achieve that.
Is it possible? The mid-section of the final episode of season 1 pt1 (Into The Forest I Go) sees Tyler reunited with an imprisoned L”Rell, causing him to have some kind of PTSD-style flashback and leaving him incapable of helping Admiral Cornwell. We see what could be his torture on the Klingon prison vessel… or what is more likely, his very physical transformation from Voq to Tyler. At the end of the episode Tyler has a vivid dream about L”Rell, and visits her in the brig of the Discovery. He asks: “What did you do to me?” to which she replies (in English): “Do not worry. I will never let them hurt you. Soon.” Either she”s still treating him as her pet or she”s foreshadowing Tyler”s transformation back into Voq.
The idea of Klingons becoming human actually has precedent in Star Trek. In the original series, which is set chronologically after Discovery, we encounter a Klingon spy who has disguised himself as a human. How is that done? It’s all down to something called the Augment Virus, which causes any Klingon exposed to lose their distinctive head-ridges and sharp edges, making them appear very much human. The Augment Virus was introduced in the Enterprise series, which was looking for a canonical way to explain the fact that the Klingons in the original Star Trek didn’t have the same head-ridges and fangs as the ones we know from later iterations and the movies. Why would Klingons want that? The Augment Virus was a Klingon experiment to genetically create their own versions of Khan (who they saw as a ‘human weapon’), but the side effect is that it made the race appear human, which would otherwise be a real shame on them. In reality, the Klingons just looked like hairy humans in the original Star Trek because make-up budgets were lower, but because Enterprise is set before that show chronologically it needed to explain away the discrepancies.
Enjoy that history lesson? If you followed it then you can see where all this is going. With a bit of language training, body conditioning, and exposure to the Augment Virus… it’s very possible that the House of Mokai managed to transform Voq into Tyler. They had six weeks to do it, which seems like a short time, but it’s also very possible (and this could be the deliberate reason the showrunners left such a large chronological gap between episodes 4 and 5). Choose Your Pain presents that large gap of six weeks as a reason to explain the deterioration of the Tardigrade but… we now know that creature to be something of a MacGuffin, as it is released into space at the end of the episode.
Pulling it all together, then. We have a mysterious actor playing Voq and another ‘main character’ listed in the credits of the first four episodes having apparently not appeared in them. We have Tyler conveniently escaping beatings and fleeing with Lorca to board Discovery. We also have Voq missing from episode 5 onwards after being taken to a Klingon House capable of showing him “things he never knew possible”, with L’Rell as the captain of the prison ship Tyler was held on. On top of that we see L”Rell again in multiple episodes without Voq, and we see Tyler having flashbacks about extreme body torture or conditioning. And we have precedent for Klingons appearing human in previous versions of Star Trek. Suddenly, the idea that Voq is Tyler isn’t so far fetched, and it’d be a lovely twist in a show that has already demonstrated the smarts to make Star Trek feel thoroughly modern and relevant in a TV culture that delights in plot-twists and big reveals. Not so great for Burnham, however, who is rather fond of Tyler and has already gotten physical with him.
Star Trek Discovery starts its second half of season 1 on January 7.
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