If a footballer strikes a pose from a video game after scoring at the World Cup, the video game’s marketing team has done something right. Not that «Fortnite» relies on extra publicity; at its peak in February this year, no fewer than 3.4 million gamers all over the world were playing the multiplayer sensation at the same time. Since the battle royale mode was launched in September 2017, «Fortnite» has been riding on the crest of a wave of success. No other game since «Pac-Man» or «Tetris» has stirred up the gaming world as much.
All this success came despite a rather shaky beginning. The original «Fortnite» was presented to the public at the Spike Game Awards back in 2011. In the following years, not much was heard of the new release, which was created by the renowned studio Epic. It was originally intended to be the flagship of the game engine «Unreal 4 Engine». On 25 July 2017, «Fortnite – Save the World» was finally released as a fee-based early access version. However, this cooperative tower defence game with zombies (husks) wasn’t received particularly well. Nevertheless, Epic announced it had reached the one million player mark the following August.
At the time, all eyes were on another Unreal Engine game: «PUBG»’s version of Battle Royale struck a chord with gamers all over the globe. One success story followed another. With this in mind, it didn’t come as a surprise that Epic announced shortly after: «We love Battle Royal games such as PUBG and we think Fortnite would be a great foundation for our own version». No sooner said than done; «Fortnite – Battle Royale» was launched on 26 September 2017. The rest is history. «PUBG», which kicked off the Battle Royale trend, is still extremely popular today, but has become comparatively insignificant. «Fortnite», on the other hand, has become part of pop culture. How’s that possible? Let’s take a look at a few reasons.
The easiest way to attract gamers is to offer a game at no cost. While the cooperative mode isn’t free of charge, Epic offered the Battle Royale mode as a free-to-play version from the very start. This makes the entry hurdle particularly low and is a major advantage over the largest competitor «PUBG», which recently launched its first ever discount campaign. Despite this, according to a study, Epic has managed to get nearly 70 percent of all players to spend an average of 85 dollars on their gaming experience.
Personally, I haven't paid «Fortnite» a cent yet, but it has made me play «Save the World» only to collect the in-game currency Vbucks, which I could then invest in a Battle Pass. I was given the original «Fortnite» by a friend ages ago; there was a 4-for-1 offer at the time.
Unlike most classic Battle Royale games, «Fortnite» relies on an unusual mixture of shooter and crafting. Together with its colourful, cheerful style, it appeals to those players who – a few years ago – were still working away on blocks with the pickaxe in «Minecraft». These players can now parade their balloon axes, vuvuzelas, lama unicorns or whatever other skins they like to use in «Fortnite». The crafting system may not allow for the same complexity, but it creates a familiar scenario and makes it easier to get started.
«PUBG» was only a few months old and the real highlight was yet to come. While the wave of copycats was still in the planning phase or hadn't even caught on to the upcoming hype, Epic had already released its own battle royale mode. As publisher and support centre for the Unreal 4 Engine, which «PUBG» is based on, Epic had their finger on the pulse right from the start. The early launch in September meant the video game company had enough time to successfully establish itself on the market.
Epic quickly realised they were onto something with «Fortnite» and keep on providing regular updates – new weapons, skins, level changes or fresh game ideas – to this day. «Fortnite» is dynamic and makes you feel like something new is happening all the time. On top of this, Epic takes player's opinions seriously and incorporates user feedback into updates.
«Fortnite» isn’t a linear game. The aim of the game might be rather straightforward – you have 100 opponents and want to be the last one standing – but getting there is a real adventure every time around. You might build a proud fortress, one that makes every maiden's heart beat faster, just to see it be hit by a rocket, shatter into a thousand pieces and bury you underneath it seconds later. Or you might find yourself in a shopping trolley race with your teammates and notice that another team has joined you as you speed down a lush green hill. You never know if your opponents will get out their guns once you reach the finishing line or if they'll take to the dancefloor first – thanks to Boogie Bomb. «Fortnite» is always good for surprises. The latest additions, golf carts and golf courts, prove this once again.
While «Save the World» is overly complex, Epic has kept the Battle Royale mode simple. The game's principle is easy to understand and the iconic design makes sure you always know where you are and never get lost. The weapons and items are classified in the well-known RPG colour scheme and their handling is intuitive: There's one button for aiming and one for firing. As there are only five weapon or equipment slots, there's no need for unnecessary inventory management. Weapon attachments don't exist either.
The principles of crafting are easy to grasp, even though the crucial speed and skills take a little longer to master.
With the launch of the iOS version, system-based accessibility has also greatly increased. It's possible to play with the same account on all supported systems (except PS4 – Sony's the spoilsport here), so you can work on your progress anywhere and game together with your friends.
However, all these aspects would be useless if «Fortnite» wasn't essentially a good game. But it's just that. The bright colours, the varied level design and the numerous imaginative weapons provide for splendid entertainment. In addition, the waiting time between games is extremely short, so you keep wanting to play another round. The crafting system is intuitive and creates unmatched gaming dynamics. Instead of hiding, players run across open fields knowing they can hide behind thick metal walls if they must.
The level system and the different seasons provide additional motivation. As a player, you constantly face new challenges or small missions, so you don't have to chase after the Victory Royale, but can focus on carrying out a range of tasks. If you buy the optional Battle Pass, you'll level up and get even more skins, emotes or toys.
Whether you're gaming with friends, plunging into the unknown with random people or looking for an adventure on your own, «Fortnite» is sure to keep you entertained. I’ll see you in the Tilted Towers!
What about you? Have you also been bitten by the «Fortnite» bug or are you shaking your head in disbelief?
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