What Is Fortnite and Why Is Drake Playing It?
If you prefer Connect Four over an XBOX One X, but need to know what Fortnite is all about, spend six minutes reading this.
Fortnite is the Willy Wonka three-course dinner chewing gum of games.
Well, that's certainly one way to put it. Every now and then, a new video game gets released that has people struggling to explain it. These games mash up the genres, introduce new elements, and suck their players into seemingly endless rabbit holes of trying to find new angles. When that happens, there are victims.
No, not the players who might get frustrated because they can't solve this game like they have others. We're talking about the outside groups: the significant others and friends who don't play the game. Those who see their loved ones disappear for days on end, only to come back out looking at least somewhat dishevelled and frustrated because their buildings didn't hold up to a horde of monsters.
When that happens, you need a solution. You need something to talk about. And you certainly don't want to stay out of the frantic conversations that occur around the bar and houses of those who have been sucked in by the new, exciting, and frustrating toy. And who knows: maybe this will even be your entrance into the beautiful world of video gaming?
To accomplish all of that, you have to answer one question above all: What the hell is Fortnite?
Fortnite: Just the Basics
Let's start with the basics. What are we actually talking about here? Fortnite is a video game that was first published for early release by Epic Games in July 2017. In early 2018, it was released for all gamers on Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In other words, if you own most of any modern technology, chances are you can play this game.
That's especially true considering it's free to play. But we should qualify: it's free, but includes micro transactions.
Allow us to go off on a little tangent here: the single best way to enrage any gamer is to bring up microtransactions. These are in-game purchases you can make. For Fortnite, some characters cost extra, and you can level up more quickly if you buy your way through it. Here, it actually works, because they are not required, and the game itself is free. In other games, these microtransactions are enough to bring grey hair to any gamer.
But we digress. Here's another bonus point to score with your resident gamer enthusiast: Fortnite's developer, Epic Games, has somewhat of a legendary reputation in the scene. In the late 90s, it developed Unreal and Unreal Tournament, two of the most well-regarded shooters of their time. It's also the studio responsible for the Gears of War series, and its Unreal engine powers countless games and the special effects of a number of movies.
The Plot and Game Modes
Enough with the basic stuff. Here's the background you will enter when you power up Fortnite for the first time:
One day, 98% of Earth's population suddenly disappeared, and the remaining population found the skies covered in dense clouds, creating chaotic storms that dropped husks, humanoid zombie-like creatures, that attacked the living. The survivors found ways to construct "storm shields", a field that cleared the storm clouds from immediately overhead and reduced the attacks from husks, and used these to set up survivor bases across the globe.
Sounds as simple as it is fun. The graphic tone emphasises that, with cartoonish characters happily jumping through a simplified world. Who wouldn't want to live in a village in which it randomly rain zombies?
Of course, you have options. Why wouldn't you have options? Who wouldn't want to destroy these zombies and engage in a little bit of friendly fire all on their own in as many ways as possible? Here's what you can do before you power up:
Imagine being dropped on an island with about 99 other friendly human beings, all carrying a weapon and having nothing to do but go at each other. Now, you're essentially thinking about Fortnite's Battle Royale mode.
It's the simplest possible mode of the game, and also the one that happens to be free. The world is big, so to avoid long slogs as the players thin out, the safe zone constantly shrinks. Players scavenge for weapons that range from machetes to grenade launchers.
And of course, there is a crafting element. Everything in the environment can be broken down into either wood, brick, or steel. Players can then use these resources to get around the map or fortify themselves. But everything has an end, so don't get too comfortable.
Save the World PvE
Tired of battling your friends? Work together to actually fight the environment. That might sound crazy, but only if you don't imagine countless zombies dropped from the sky at all time. In the Save the World mode, players work together to complete missions, advance in level, build complex fortifications, and defend the occasional attack of the zombie hordes.
Think The Walking Dead meets Minecraft. The PvE mode is not free, but costs about $40 for the standard version of the game. As a result, you get to build entire castles and other structures that would put Minecraft to shame. The missions can get repetitive, but shooting down zombies from the sky never gets old.
Rappers and Sports Stars Love Fortnight
Fortnite has not only hooked gamers worldwide, it has also gained the attention of sports stars, rappers and many other celebrities. Drake and Travis Scott recently battled in front of 635,000 Twitch viewers, while NFL stars Derek Carr and Richard Sherman are also self-confessed Fortnite addicts.
Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics suffered a horrific leg injury during the first game of the NBA season, but is still keeping active via Fortnite.
So... What Does That Mean?
At this point, it all sounds just a little bit crazy. That's because it is. Who would even think of this type of game, and why is it so addicting?
We may never know the answer. But we do know that Fortnite, at its best, is a hell of a lot of fun. Yes, it can be frustrating. Yes, the microtransactions can quickly add up. And of course, the building takes time, with little guidance at the beginning on how to get started.
But does that really matter? Ultimately, there's a reason your friend spends hours in a darkened room to play something named for a two-week time frame. Maybe the question is not what the hell is Fortnite, but why the hell aren't you playing yet? Don't ask us for the answer.
UPDATE: Fortnite is now free to play on iOS. As long as you have iOS 11 or later, and an iPhone SE or later. If you want to play Fortnite on your iPad, you’ll need an iPad mini 4/Air 2, or a newer model.
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