Fortnite: Everything you need to know about the global phenomenon

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CNET
If you haven’t heard of Fortnite by now, you’ve either been living under a rock or don’t have any kids. The insanely popular multiplayer game has taken over the gaming industry this year, with PCs, consoles and phones turning into glorified Fortnite machines. And it keeps getting more popular.Fortnite began as a zombie-killing, cooperative game where you built fortifications, held off hordes and moved on to the next attack. It was first revealed by developer Epic Games in 2011, making infrequent appearances for years before finally entering early access in 2017. That $40 cooperative title stood by itself for months, but it wasn’t until Epic decided to add a free battle royale game mode to drum up awareness for the core game that Fortnite went from a mildly successful game to a worldwide phenomenon.

What is Battle Royale?

The battle royale genre is fairly new to gaming, but has quickly taken hold as one of the most popular on the planet. The rules are simple: One hundred people drop down onto an island, search for weapons and gear, then battle it out until only one person is left standing victorious. Meanwhile a storm closes over the island with ever-shrinking circles, forcing people to fight to survive. It takes heavy inspiration from its namesake: a Japanese manga and movie of the same name that follows a similar, murderous arc.fortnitemapfortnitemapThe map has various towns and biomes to discover.
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Battle royale games entered the mainstream with PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG), a more realistic-looking title that laid much of the groundwork for Fortnite’s success. But for a number of reasons, Fortnite has swiftly overtaken its predecessor and stands alone at the top of the gaming world’s popular consciousness.

Part of the appeal with any battle royale game is every match can feel different. You can drop in wherever you want and the eye of the storm closes in on different locations every game. Throw in the ever-changing combinations of randomly-generated weapons and gear (including jetpacks!) as you or your team struggle to become the lone survivors at the end of the match, and you can see why the game has hooked in so many players. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Fortnite had a tie-in with Avengers: Infinity War for another bit of additional pull.img-1634img-1634Lush landscapes are the setting in this life or death game of survival.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Where you can play Fortnite

You can play Fortnite on PS4, Xbox One ($399.00 at Amazon.com), Mac, Windows PC or iPhone ($799.99 at Cricket Wireless). Epic says Fortnite is also coming to Android later this summer. You can download Fortnite for free on all platforms, but you’ll only be able to play the Battle Royale mode. The cooperative mode, called Save The World, costs $40 and is unavailable to mobile users. But even on the platforms it’s available on, Save The World Players are becoming a rare breed compared to the Battle Royale crowd.

So many in-app purchases

Since Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is free-to-play, Epic Games tempts players with cosmetic items in its in-game store. Fortnite has in-game currency called V-Bucks (you can buy with real cash or earn them slowly through gameplay), which you can use to buy items. None of the items, weapon skins or emotes you buy will give you an advantage in the game, but fun items like dance moves, new outfits and new gliders are in constant rotation in the store to entice you to fork over your money so that your character can perform a ridiculous dance upon winning.

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There’s no harm in differentiating yourself from other players if you’re willing to spend a little cash. But it can be problematic if, for example, your child has access to in-app purchases on your phone and gets pulled into the freemium cycle. Thankfully we found ways to let your kids play without you having to pay.image-1-1image-1-1This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Getting items and V-Bucks with the Battlepass

Maybe you want some of those nifty dance moves, but don’t want to buy them individually. Instead of paying for them in the store, you also can earn dance moves, outfits and other items by buying the Battlepass. The Battlepass costs $9.99 and has a tiered system that enables you to earn loot over time by completing challenges.Fortnite gets major updates roughly every quarter, and they kick off what Epic calls a new season. Fortnite just recently started season 4, which brought big updates including a meteor taking out a major landing location, new named cities on the map, and tons of other tweaks. With each new season comes the opportunity to buy a Battlepass for that season. There are new challenges in each week of the season that reset every Tuesday at 4 p.m. PST. Challenges can task you with getting a certain number of kills with a specific weapon or going to specific locations as you play. challengeschallengesSome challenges will be easy to complete over time, but you’ll have to focus to get the tougher ones.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET
For example, a challenge can be “Open seven chests in Pleasant Park.” So when you drop into the game, you can head to the Pleasant Park neighborhood to try to find seven chests in one game (which would be quite a challenge!), or you can complete the challenge over the course of several games. When you’re finished you’ll get points toward unlocking the next tier of the Battlepass, which might award you a dance move, V-Bucks, emotes or other items. You can always scroll through the tiers to see the stuff you’ll get in the future.The more challenges you complete, the faster you’ll unlock tiers, making it yet another way to slowly get items over time.You’ll have until the end of the current season to unlock as many of the 100 tiers as you can. When the season is over, any progress you made in your challenges will be reset and you’ll need to buy a new Battlepass the following season.img-1737img-1737As you complete challenges, you’ll unlock tiers that give you rewards. I got this cool skydiving trail at tier 20.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Where you can watch Fortnite 24/7

There are an unlimited supply of Fortnite videos on YouTube, and the game has become the most watched game on Twitch so you won’t have any trouble finding a video or stream to watch. According to Twitchmetrics at the time of this writing, Fortnite garners an average of more than 200,000 viewers at any given time across several Fortnite channels. Second on the list is League of Legends, which gets a little over 100,000. PUBG, meanwhile, comes in third with almost 55,000. The apprentice, as you can see, has now become the master.There are tons of different Fortnite streams to choose from, but the most popular Fortnite streamer by far is Ninja, who has 7.5 million followers on Twitch. He’s so popular that he did a stream playing Fornite with rapper Drake that broke the Twitch viewer record with a peak of over 600,000 people watching at the same time. And you can expect even more places to watch competitive Fortnite in the future, with Epic announcing a $100 million investment in esports tournaments.Long story short, you won’t have a problem finding a game to watch, but why not just download this free game and try it out yourself? All it’ll cost you is all of your free time and a few $10 Battle Passes once you’re hooked.  

Where can Fortnite go from here?

It’s tough to say what Epic Games might do in the future with what is right now the hottest game on the planet. The company is doing a great job of adding new weapons and features nearly every week so it will be interesting to see which direction it takes. 

Or Fortnite could follow PUBG’s example and add news maps to spice up the gameplay (but made with Fortnite’s signature goofy style). Vehicles could be another interesting direction to go in, with competitors PUBG and H1Z1 successfully featuring vehicular gameplay. Or… dare we say it… a Nintendo Switch ($298.98 at Amazon.com) port?Regardless of the direction Fortnite takes, keep an eye on CNET for continued Fortnite coverage.

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