You’ve seen it everywhere: people playing on the bus, talking about it on social media, streaming it all hours of the day. The biggest game in the world right now is Fortnite: Battle Royale. Fortnite is an online competitive shooter/fort-builder game that capitalizes on the recent “Battle Royale” trend: 100 players enter, 1 player (or squad of players) leaves. But Fortnite brings a level of polish, world-building and customization that previous trend-setter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and its competitors are sorely lacking.
That’s because in just one year, Fortnite has become one of the most popular, most played and most recognized video games in the world. Created by Epic Games, a nearly-thirty-year-old video game developer and publisher, Fortnite has grown out of Epic’s roots in the first-person shooter genre with the cult classic Unreal series. Epic also created the popular Unreal Engine, which powers some of the biggest video games on consoles and computers – and their skills with the engine helped them craft and refine Fortnite to constantly draw players into the game. But before the Battle Royale mode launched on September 26, 2017, Fortnite began as an entirely different game, considered a “survival” game where players would fight against zombie-like creatures and a hostile environment. Now, the game is a $1 billion juggernaut in the video game industry, with revenue entirely generated from microtransactions.
The Battle Royale mode has overtaken the original game (now called Fortnite: Save the World) thanks to a few key factors. First, Fortnite is free-to-play, meaning there is no cost to entry and many players can succeed without spending a cent. Second, the game is easy to get into once you get a handle on the controls, and the short matches keep you coming back. Third, like many online competitive games, Fortnite is available on nearly every modern platform, arriving first on computers and two consoles, then landing on mobile phones and the Nintendo Switch in 2018. In fact, players on all but the PlayStation 4 version of the game can play against or alongside each other, breaking down platform barriers for players. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Fortnite is bolstered by a very avid community of streaming players – skilled gamers playing live and narrating their gameplay for millions on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
One of these streamers is Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who brings in millions of views and, thanks to subscriptions on Twitch, earns over half a million dollars each month by playing Fortnite. Ninja is one of many streamers who became attracted to Fortnite’s constantly evolving mechanics (anything from a mysterious comet to superhero-inspired jetpacks) to grow their viewer base. Many celebrities have joined in on the fun as well, with everyone from Drake to Joe Jonas to Chance the Rapper and many more getting in on the game. In fact, any player could find themselves in a game with Ninja or Drake, regardless of what platform they use (except PlayStation 4).
Wondering how you can get in on the action? If you haven’t had a chance to jump off the Battle Bus into the world of Fortnite, here’s what you need to know:
- Grab a computer that runs Windows or macOS, a modern gaming console, or a relatively-recent iPhone or Android phone
- Form a “squad” to play with (two or four players) to help you achieve the “Victory Royale” of beating every other player – or play on your own
- Make sure you have a good sense how to control a character in third person: one joystick (or keyboard keys) to move and the other joystick (or touchscreen or mouse) to aim
- Go into the game with a sense of architecture: Fortnite players live and die (literally) by the structures they build, and by harvesting different materials you can prolong your game and protect your squad with well (and quickly) built forts
- Keep up to date on the latest “Season” in-game, which brings game and world-changing mechanics that might make it easier to achieve your victory, such as the most reason time travel-themed season
- Don’t forget that it’s a game, so have fun!
While I’m pretty terrible at Fortnite myself, the fun is in the journey, not the destination. I’ve enjoyed watching this little game become a global force in the gaming world, offering a cartoonish alternative to gray and grim shooters while giving everyone a fighting chance on every platform. I hope to see you on the battlefield soon!