Fortnite is a free-to-play battle royale that was released as open beta in September 2017. It originally started off as a side-game for Epic Game’s purchasable zombie apocalypse-style game, Fortnite: Save the World. But has gone on to totally eclipsed the original game, which was in production since 2011.
The Battle Royale centers around scavenging and for materials and using them to build forts to defend against the zombie-like husks. However, they decided to attempt to integrate the building and editing mechanics of Save the World into a Battle Royale format after being inspired by other Battle Royale’s such as PlayerUnknown’s Underground (PUBG).
Using the foundation of Save the World, they adapted it from the PvE format into a completely separate PvP server on the Unreal Engine 4. The work went so quickly, that within a few months of conceiving the original idea, the Fortnite Battle Royale mode was announced on September 12, 2019. This was just two weeks before its official open beta launch, with immediate early access given to players who already owned Fortnite: Save the World.
The battle royale genre has already been around for a few years by then, with games like H1Z1 and DayZ being popular long before PUBG entered the scene in 2017. So, what was it about Fortnite that managed to gain such as massive audience over night?
The biggest draw is obviously the sandbox nature of harvesting and editing that players need to incorporate into their playstyle in order to have any hope of making it to the end of match. Using an array of bizarre harvesting tools (known in-game as pickaxes), including anything from a multicolored hobby horse-style unicorn pickaxe called the ‘Rainbow Smash’ to the tuning-fork inspired AC/DC pickaxe to the scythe-themed Permafrost pickaxe, players can decimate any possible foliage and structure, be they cars, trees or rooves, in order to harvest crafting materials. They can also be used to fight with other players, but the damage that they cause is minimal at 20 damage per hit.
The materials harvested in order to collect wood, metal and stone, which can then be used to construct platforms and structures with which to either protect your character, get the upper hand on opponents or to reach higher vantage points, like the top of mountains. But there were many times when players got creative with their edits, such as when a stream-sniping fan found himself in a match with DrLupo decided to construct his name, with some assistance from Ninja.
The combination of building and intense end of game gun-battles when the final players are trapped in a very narrow eye of the storm at the end of the game. This especially true if all players have maxed out material inventories and choose to build upward in the hopes of taking the high ground. However, if they’re not careful, this also puts them at risk for a death drop if another player manages to destroy their construction from underneath them.
These are a specific type of loot item that can be placed on the walls, roof or floor of any building or construction. When activated by an opponent, they will release spikes that will immediately kill them. As they can’t be activated by the person who set them, they are a very useful weapon to have during rapid editing and dueling matches as well as for surprise attacks in the doorways of seemingly unentered buildings and basements.
Ah yes, and of course it just wouldn’t be Fortnite without the character outfits and skins. Fortnite stands out among battle royales for its cartoonish themes and bright colors, which was a smart move on Epic’s part, as it allowed them the creative freedom to do pretty much whatever they wanted with their outfits, as there is no particular theme that they are constrained to sticking to.
Over the years, this has meant that Fortnite could provide players with anything from normal human outfits, to characters in animal onesies and suits, to anthropomorphic banana characters to characters from established franchises, including Deadpool, Harley Quinn and Sith Trooper skins, as well as streamer skins like those for Marshmello and Ninja.
Gliders are activated when a player first jumps off the battle bus and allows the player to land safely at a location of their choice. It can be reactivated later on whenever a player jumps from a high location in order to prevent fall damage but will not do so automatically. There are many different skins for gliders, as well as umbrella variants that can only be earned through achieving a Victory Royale each season.
It’s also important to note that while some outfit, pickaxe, and glider skins can be unlocked for free, most need to either be bought with V-Bucks or earned through the Battle Pass. While it is often possible to earn enough V-Bucks through Battle Pass challenges to pay for the next season’s Battle Pass, the first Battle Pass at least will need to be bought. However, you will start out with a basic version of each of these items and all skins and styles are purely aesthetic without adding anything to overall gameplay.
Fortnite’s Creative mode was released in December 2018 that allowed every player access to their own private creative server with full access to all of the buildings, tools, traps and vehicles from Fortnite Battle Royale, regardless of whether the item had been vaulted or not. This allows them to build whatever solo, multiplayer, coop, PVP, puzzle or parkour experiences that they would like and to program in their own rules for how the island works and what can and cannot be harvested or destroyed. The only limitation is that each player only has access to four islands at a time.
Players can share their island’s code with whomever they want which has resulted in many players and streamers building obstacle sources and posting the codes for others to try to solve. Streamers like Inverse have even built much of their channels around their construction of challenging new islands. There have even been instances of non-Fortnite related individuals using creative for promotional uses, as Weezer did with ‘Weezer World!’ that was aimed at promoting their new album to a wider audience when Season 8 was released.
Here is IGN’s official video recording of the first ever Fortnite World Cup Solo Championship finals in July 2019 that saw 16-year-old Bugha walking away with $3 Million USD in prize money.
Fortnite: Battle Royale is available on PC/Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Mobile and Nintendo Switch, so you can play it pretty much whenever you want. It can be downloaded for free directly from Epic Games’ website.