May 9, 2018 // 1 p.m.
As you read this, people are playing Fortnite all over the world. People are playing it on their PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and even mobile devices in houses, dorm rooms, coffee shops, and airports.
Fortnite Battle Royale has taken over the world, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. It's a cultural phenomenon, with people playing with the same burning enthusiasm that saw hundreds of thousands of people flooding the streets to play Pokémon Go.
However, Fortnite is a fairly complex game. As the game launches its fourth season of play — filled with a selection of superhero themed cosmetics — here's how Fortnite Battle Royale became the biggest game in the world.
Epic Games' smartest move was to make the game free-to-play. At the time Fortnite launched, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds was the hottest ticket, a battle royale game playable only on the PC and only if you had the high-end rig to run it and were happy to drop £30 on the experience.
As PUBG chugged towards its release on the Xbox Game Preview program, Fortnite was launching everywhere and it was absolutely free. Epic had a killer elevator pitch: 'Want to play PUBG but can't afford it? PUBG isn't available on your platform? Why not try Fortnite instead?'
Fortnite's free, and that's the best price to encourage players to give it a try, especially when people like Canadian rapper Drake are taking to Twitch and diving in as well. That's a good first step, but Epic didn't stop there.
You can play Fortnite on pretty much everything. You can play on several different platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, and eventually Android will come too. Apart from Xbox One and PS4, every single one of these platforms can play together.
This means that you can get in on the fun no matter what. Battle Royale games work well in a couch setting, watching the decisions be made and play out in real time, which is a large part of what makes the game so streamable.
a verb an adjective now.
Here, uniquely, after watching a friend play you can pull out your phone and play with them - sure, it'll control like ass, but you can still take part in the game. Those who prefer to play with a mouse can team up with friends that can only use controllers. It feels like the future of gaming, and it wouldn't be a surprise if Epic went into E3, announced Fortnite for Nintendo's Switch console, and carved itself out an even bigger audience.
Battle royale games are simple to understand: You start naked, you scavenge around for a weapon, you use that weapon to do a murder — or several — in the hope of being the last person standing.
There are lots of other factors to consider, such as which weapons are good in which situation, when to engage, when to hide, etc. But that comes with time. At a core level, the basic things you need to succeed in the game are clear.
Fortnite also has the addition of a destruction and building system which has created a huge skill ceiling. Watching players master it is engaging, and this top-level play gives casual gamers something to aim towards.
Better yet, killing people isn't about having godlike first-person shooter skills but more about a combination of different skills: Not many games reward you for patience, running away, or your aptitude for building things quickly, but Fortnite does, and that opens it up to a host of different play-styles.
The game feels, in a lot of ways, more like a stealth game or going on a hunt. You can outshoot people, sure, but you can also out-think them or out-build them, and both of those can bring their own satisfaction to it all.
The cartoony world of Fortnite may not be any less punishing in practice than the world's of Battlefield, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, or the latest Call of Duty, but the bright shades and lack of noticeable blood makes it more likely to be accepted by parents and younger children, and less intimidating at first glance.
The cosmetics, emotes and general tone of the game is light and fluffy, and weapons are colour-coded by their effectiveness for your convenience. This isn't a case of the game being simple to jump in to, because that's covered above, but it's about presenting the world as something that appeals to people who don't even call themselves gamers.
In the game's first branded crossover, its next event will feature an Infinity Gauntlet. Finding it, players will turn into Thanos, and Epic promises this will give players all of the powers of the testicle-chinned behemoth.
This is surely only the first in a series of sponsored content, and it's a strong jumping in point for a whole host of other sponsored content.