Opinion: Fortnite Battle Royale takes the world by storm

Alex Jones, Columnist

Epic Games’ latest development has quickly become the hottest video game on the market.

Since its release back in September of 2017, Fortnite Battle Royale has become extremely popular and even more so in recent months. The developer, Epic Games, has managed to attract both gamers and non-gamers alike with Fortnite’s unique gameplay and colorful landscape.

“There’s a lot of excitement… we expected the game to be popular but we didn’t expect it to be this popular, so we’re really pretty thrilled and humbled,” Eric Williamson, game developer and design lead said in an interview with Game Informer.

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Fortnite Battle Royale pins players against 99 other people. The goal? Be the last player standing. However this is not a simple task. The 45 million people currently playing Fortnite start the game by being flown above an island in a flying bus, where they must choose a location to drop and begin their action-packed adventure.

Upon landing, players must begin looting treasure chests that contain items that will aid them in their survival. These items include a variety of guns and explosives, such as boogie bombs, which can make your enemies dance uncontrollably, as well as shield potions players can drink, giving them extra health.

In addition to looting, harvesting materials such as wood, brick or metal also becomes vital because not only do players have to fight, they have to build. Building is one of the harder things to master in the game but also an aspect that makes it that much more challenging and enjoyable for players, as it gives them creative control.

Whether players are building a large elaborate base for defense, or building a staircase as they charge up a mountaintop towards an enemy, building fast and effectively is immensely important to a player’s survival, as well as a thrilling experience.

“Some of my favorite things about this game, for one, [are] the building mechanics and how that separates itself from other games such as [PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds],” Bryce Webber, sophomore, said. Webber continued by explaining that the ability to outbuild your opponent and turn the tables on them is the way of the game.

Fortnite game developers have also expressed the importance of building and its contribution to player experience.

“The map should really be a canvas for players to express their creativity… So it’s always about trying to find the right balance between sort of hinting at how you could use the space, but not necessarily dictating how you should play in the space,” David Spalinski, lead level designer, said in an interview with Game Informer.

Apart from building, in a player’s quest to a first place victory royale, they also have to pay attention to the storm that is closing in on them. If a player gets caught in the storm, their health starts to decrease rapidly.

These different aspects of Fortnite Battle Royale’s gameplay, paired with its bright interface, are what have contributed to its rapid success and what sets it apart from other battle royale style games in the industry like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which lack aesthetic character and tools for creation.

Aside from gaming culture, Fortnite has also managed to take over pop culture as well. Hip-hop sensations Chance the Rapper and Lil’ Yachty, as well as numerous NBA players have all been seen playing Fortnite on their social media profiles. This has led to many non-gamers, as well as other celebrities, picking up a controller and playing it for themselves.

In fact, last month, rappers Drake and Travis Scott, along with Juju Smith-Shuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, all teamed up with Tyler Blevins, also known as “Ninja,” one of the most popular video game streamers in the world, to play Fortnite Battle Royale.

Ninja live streamed his superstar team’s gameplay on Twitch, which amassed a record-breaking 628,000 concurrent viewers. With some of the biggest names in pop culture getting involved, it’s a no wonder why the game’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent months.

Believe it or not, Fortnite Battle Royale is actually free to play. This is a highly desirable quality, especially for gamers who are used to paying upwards to $59.99 for a game that might end up being disappointing.

“I feel as though it’s appealing to everyone because it’s free for everyone to try,” Webber said.

Since the game is free, the way Fortnite makes money is through in-game microtransactions where players can buy “V-Bucks” and use those to purchase new outfits and accessories for their character. This is entirely optional, but very hard to resist, as Fortnite continually adds a variety of incredibly cool and unique items for player customization on a weekly basis.

Overall, Fortnite Battle Royale’s amazing gameplay, price and customization options have created an incredible experience and a sense of community in which many gamers haven’t felt in years. At the same time, they have brought new gamers into their community too. “It reminds me of the [Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2] days when you’d come home and squad up with your friends,” Webber said. “There hasn’t really been that type of excitement since [Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2], but now it’s back, with Fortnite bringing friends together once again.”

It seems everyone encountering Fortnite is absolutely loving it, which is exactly what Epic Games had hoped. “When you’re having fun building something yourself, then you hope people will have fun with it too and right now is a really fun time to be working on the game,” said game developer Sidney Rauchberger in an interview with game informer.

While many games die off overtime, it is evident that Fortnite Battle Royale is here to stay and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.