Call of Duty’s hardboiled new battle royale mode isn’t a lot like its candy-colored cousin Fortnite except for one thing: players’ gratitude for public transportation. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 players have taken to “thanking the bus driver,” a custom in Fortnite, for transporting them to an island of near-inevitable death.
Fortnite players have been good-mannerly thanking their nameless battle bus transportation professional for months. They’d type it in chat or yell it into their mics. The meme became so popular that one player named Kody Keddie drafted a Change.org petition asking publisher Epic Games to let them thank the bus driver more officially. “Since I was just a boy I have always loved jumping out of the battle bus but all this time I have felt something was missing,” he wrote. “And that thing is the ability to thank the driver of the battle bus, he or she is truly a great person and they provide us a great service, I think it is time we can truly appreciate their service, don’t you agree?” (The post has now been deleted.)
Kotaku Game Diary
Daily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
Late August, Epic Games delivered. Fortnite’s pre-match chat box became full of players “thanking the bus driver,” an in-game emote players could spam with just one button. The battle bus attendant’s efforts have been rewarded many times over.
Let’s be clear: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 doesn’t have flying school buses, or any sort of airborne bus. Players travel on a steely fleet of military-grade helicopters. Memes are transportation-agnostic, though. In most Call of Duty battle royale games I’ve played, players continue to thank the bus driver by typing “thanks the bus driver” into chat next to their name right before they drop off the helicopter. Cute?
What does it mean? At face, nothing, also lol. Thinking a little more, it indicates that battle royale enthusiasts are flitting from game to game—PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, now Call of Duty’s Blackout mode—in search for the next survival shooter high.
I did that. And, before Blackout, I was unsatisfied by each of these games. Late 2018, a year and a half after PUBG took the gaming world by storm, a certain strain of genre gamer has emerged. We just want to get our fix: A non-buggy battle royale game with good gunplay and no over-the-top bells and whistles. For me, Blackout is that game. I’d like to show my gratitude, but “thanks the helicopter pilot” doesn’t have the same ring to it.