Fortnite has been one of the most popular video game titles for the past few years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. My daughter got me into it about a year ago, and I play a quick game with her or with some of my other friends fairly often. Games generally last less than 20 minutes, so it’s good way to have a quick bit of fun.
If you’re not familiar with Fortnite, it’s essentially just a 100-person fight to the death. You all jump out of a flying bus and skydive onto an island that’s roughly two square miles, start fighting, and the last person alive wins — and then you start over and do it again.
It’s a simple concept, but I think Epic has done a few brilliant things to help it succeed.
The style of the game is rather cartoony, with no blood and no real deaths (when someone “dies”, they just evaporate and fly off to play another game). You’re still running around with guns shooting each other, so it’s not exactly free of violence, but they’ve done a nice job of keeping it relatively clean.
There is no cost to play. You can download it for free, and play it for free forever. You can pay for different “skins” to dress your character up, or pay for different dance moves, but the core game is 100% free on every platform.
Related to that, everyone starts every game with the exact same abilities. I might be a “level 87” player, but that’s just for show. You all have the same speed, power, and starting weapons every single time. If you are brand new and play against someone that’s played 2,000 games before, the only advantage they have is experience.
Fortnite is available on essentially every video game platform, and they can all play with one another. My daughter plays on a PS4 (or sometimes a Nintendo Switch), my friend Adam usually plays on an Xbox, and I’m on a PC — and we can all play together in the same games. It’s a simple concept, but it was undoubtedly quite complex for them to develop.
I think the concept of “the storm” is absolutely brilliant. I don’t think Fortnite is the first game to use it, but it makes things go so smoothly.
So I mentioned that you start on an island that’s roughly two square miles. With 100 people on it, when you first land you can quickly find a few folks running around and engage with them. When it gets down to just a handful of players remaining, though, it could potentially take hours to hunt down everyone. This is where the storm comes in.
Every few minutes, a storm starts creeping in from the edges of the map. If your character ventures into the storm, you die rather quickly. As time progresses, the storm gets smaller and smaller until it’s just a few square meters somewhere on the map (the center location of the storm varies, so you can’t plan ahead too far). This forces all players into the final smaller area and ensures that the game will have an ending before too long. That final small gap takes about 25 minutes to arrive, meaning a single game can’t really last longer than that.
Play with your kids
If your kids play, go join them! Even if you don’t play many games, just download it on your computer (it’s free, after all), and the computer/mouse controls are pretty easy to pick up. They can sit in the other room on their PlayStation and you can be in the same game from your computer. You’ll probably get killed pretty quickly, but that’s part of the fun!
If you want to look me up on there and play sometime, my name on there is (shockingly) “mickmel”.