Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most probably heard of Fortnite. And what is it exactly? It’s the game that is currently trending amongst YouTubers, gamers, and angry ten year olds alike. And it has been for the past several months; in fact it’s basically a cultural phenomenon at this point. What exactly about Fortnite makes it so popular? And will the trend last? Let’s discuss.
First some backstory; Fortnite has been in development for a while. In fact it’s actually a zombie survival horror game that was announced all the way back in 2011. In mid 2017, a game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was released and rapidly became popular as a multiplayer online battle royale game. Seeing an opportunity to capitalise on the trend, Epic Games created a battle royale mode out of Fortnite which was released as Fortnite Battle Royale. It’s this spin-off version that everyone is playing and which is so popular.
The biggest thing going for it is that it’s free, so that already gives it an edge over other multiplayer games like Star Wars Battlefront or Call of Duty… Free-to-play means anyone can download and play it from the get go. It can always be a risk to release a game for free, especially when you’ve put in so much time and effort into developing it. However, being free means more people will try it out, including the people who would’ve otherwise dismissed the game and not played it otherwise. So you have this domino effect where people play and enjoy the game, rave about it so other people hear, and more and more people play because of its accessibility.
In addition to this, Fortnite is multiplatform; you can play it on a Playstation, Xbox, PC, or even a phone. While there’s no android version yet, it’s in development and due to be released in the coming months. Multiplatform, again, means that a large variety of people are able to play it, and it’s been designed in such a way that you can play against console players while playing on the iPhone. This makes it really feel like one, big game that everyone is playing and helps make sure nobody gets left out.
Obviously being a free game can only go so far. The biggest thing, at the end of the day, is that the game is just plain fun. The vibrant colours and aesthetics immediately make it stand out from its otherwise bleaker or more drab FPS counterparts. It also combines the building features of Minecraft with a shooter game; something which doesn’t sound like it should work but does. Is there an enemy sniper gunning you down? Just a build a wall so they can’t get to you. It makes for more interesting and varied play styles and strategies. It’s an easy game for anyone to get into, though it would take quite a while to really master.
The game also has multiple updates, new modes and timed events that add a new twist everytime you play. You’ll never know what to expect when you log onto the game. Sometimes you can throw boogie bombs to make a group of enemies dance non-stop. Other times you can literally ride a rocket. There’s always some new and interesting curveball that changes up the game mechanic. This means that everytime you play will be memorable, and there will always be something you can share online. Some crazy wild strategy that worked or just being at the right place at the right time, (or maybe the wrong place at the wrong time depending on which side you’re on.) All in all, the game appeals to your inner child and is a shining example of how to have fun and not give a damn.
So is this the new game of the century or is the Fortnite trend only going to last for a short while? Probably the latter if we’re being realistic about it. Other games have been trending before; their popularity peaks before tumbling back down. Pokémon Go lasted a month while Flappy Bird was able to make do for a week. Having said that, the Fortnite craze is not slowing down anytime soon, thanks in no small part to the recent mobile release and the weekly updates spicing things up.
Whether the hype dies down in a few months or years, there’s no denying that the game has made a lasting impact. Even if fewer people play it, the game will still be as fun, and as outrageous, as ever.