A game that needs no introduction in this day and age – Fortnite is Epic Games‘ popular survival online shooter; a game that has taken the world by storm and a game that virtually every games-player has heard about (whether they’ve played it or not). It was first released in 2017 and currently has approximately 200 million active players worldwide. The numbers are unheard of…
The basis of Fortnite is a Third-Person shoot ’em up that allows one hundred people to fight it out against each other until there’s just one person left standing, who wins the game. This is called the “Battle Royal”*. You can play solo, or in a team, and you start by jumping out of a flying bus onto an island below. When you reach the ground you must then grab weapons and ammo, and also start hacking away at the scenery (with a melee weapon) to generate building materials, which you can then use to construct a range of defences. Actually, building stuff is key to survival because it shields you from gunfire. You can build walls, ramps, windows – all kinds of things – and you must learn to do this quickly if you’re not to remain as ‘cannon fodder’ for the rest of the game.
What is interesting about Fortnite is that it looks simple, but does have some depth when you get into it. As a game progresses a ‘storm’ breaks out, forcing players to remain within the ‘eye’ in order to survive, and as the timer ticks away the eye gets ever smaller, forcing players closer and closer together. This is a good (and reasonably natural) way of making players fight it out as the game goes on, rather than making them go searching for targets on a large map.
What is also interesting about Fortnite is that gamers playing on different platforms (whether it be Windows or Mac or consoles or mobile) all participate in the same games – something that some developers have shied away from in the past (mostly because gamers playing on mouse and keys generally have an advantage over those playing on a gamepad – in terms of reaction times).
Graphically, Fortnite is colourful and bold and the overall visual style of the game is very pleasing. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the game is “cartoony” in the same way that Valve‘s classic online shooter Team Fortress 2 is. Still: Epic Games‘ Fortnite is a force to be reckoned with.
* = As an interesting side note: as a huge fan of the film Battle Royal, I can see where the idea behind this game came from! Kinji Fukusaku‘s 2000 cult hit (based on the 1999 novel by Koushun Takami) is a story about a group of Japanese schoolkids fighting it out to the death on a remote island – the last person left alive and standing being the ultimate winner. Which is the premise of Fortnite. So – in my mind at least – Fortnite owes a huge debt of gratitude to Takami‘s book and Fukusaku‘s film.