Why has this particular game gotten so big?
“Fortnite” is uniquely welcoming to newcomers, which isn’t true of all online shooter-style games.
Because it’s free, there are always inexperienced players jumping into a match for the first time. Sure, you’re probably not going to top the competition and achieve a No. 1 victory royale on the first try, or even the tenth, but you’re always welcome to keep on trying. You’ll get a chance to observe how experienced players act — when they build, how they stay alive — and have fun along the way, which is really all that matters.
And if it’s not for you, that’s fine too; at least now you have a better understanding of what the fuss is all about.
What does “battle royale” even mean?
Battle royale is a gameplay genre that uses strategy and survival elements in a last-man-standing arena, much like in the Japanese movie of the same name (or, more recently, “The Hunger Games”). It was popularized by the PC/Xbox One game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” which came out earlier in 2017, and “Fortnite” built on that existing formula while adding some new tricks of its own.
In “Fortnite,” battle royale means up to 100 players on a single map trying to be the last person or squad standing as the safe zones get smaller and smaller, forcing all remaining players together. It uses the building mechanics of the core game, so players can create platforms and walls to either get a better vantage point or hide from enemy fire. These structures aren’t impenetrable — you can’t just build four walls and a roof and call it a day.
“Fortnite” is played entirely online with real people, not bots, so every match might be a little different. This is part of the reason for its staying power, despite having only one map. This also allows the developers to make frequent changes and additions, with new “seasons” bringing new story elements and changes.
Is “Fortnite” OK for kids to play?
“Fortnite” is rated T for Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, meaning it’s generally appropriate for ages 13 and up. Some callouts from the ESRB website include “players use guns, swords, and grenades to fight skeleton-like monsters (husks) in ranged and melee-style combat” and “Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain”—about what you’d expect from a PG-13 action flick.
That rating comes with a huge caveat, though, because online interactions are not rated by the ESRB, and “Fortnite Battle Royale” is entirely online. Obviously, only you can decide what games are best for your children, but you should definitely be aware of what they’re playing and with whom, just like with any other online behavior.
I think I want to give this “Fortnite” thing a shot. Where can I get it?
Because of its massive popularity, Epic Games is bringing “Fortnite” to as many platforms as possible. It’s available to download on PC and Mac, as well as all current-generation home video game consoles.
The Nintendo Switch version launched earlier this month, and it even has cross-play with Xbox One, a rarity. Sony’s PlayStation 4, meanwhile, refuses to join the cross-play party, but you can still play “Fortnite” with your buddies who have that system. That means you can play on your Xbox One using the TV alongside your significant other while they’re curled up with the Switch.
You can even download a mobile version on iOS, with the Android counterpart due out later this year. And, again, it’s free to jump into the battle royale, so why not give it a shot and see what all the hype is about? Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.