A closer look at the novelties of Fortnite and why they have made it the premier Esports game of 2018
In the past year and a half, Fortnite has exploded onto the gaming scene and, without surprise, was the most played video game of 2018. Because of the game’s unique play style and relatively novel battle-royale format, it has taken over both the competitive and recreational world of Esports and does not look to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Fortnite, in a way that has never been seen before, caters to both types of gamers. The game entertains the metaphorically left-brained, analytical gamers who enjoy games like Call of Duty and Battlefield where all decisions are based on pure intuition of numbers; such as the relationship between the damage per shot of a gun and the rate of fire of that same gun and finding a balance between the two that fits their play style. These gamers, who tend to shift towards FPS, competitive style games, enjoy Fortnite because it has all of that. Being one of these gamers, I can attest that Fortnite, with the help of its battle-royale format, satisfy my craving for a game that I can intuitively and mathematically understand yet is still unpredictable and exciting. Fortnite allows me to enjoy the relationship between certain strategies based on the balancing of the simple numbers-such as damage per shot, headshot multiplier, and reload time- that to me and many others, make a video game so fun and competitive.
Fortnite, as mentioned earlier, also satisfies the more creative, metaphorically (or not, no one really knows) right-brained individuals who enjoy the beauty and creativeness that video games can provide. These gamers typically grew up playing games such as Minecraft, Fallout, or Grand Theft Auto and spent their time building impressive structures or following the Freedom trail on their unique journey to find the Railroad. With the game’s unprecedented building mechanics, Fortnite has been able to attract this side of the gaming industry as well, forming a shooting game that adds a layer of creativity that has never been seen before in a competitive online game.
It is important to mention that these statements are in no way absolute. It is entirely possible to be both right-brained and left-brained, as basically everyone is. It is true, however, that people tend to shift towards one side of that spectrum, and therefore enjoy either creative or analytical games based on which way they sway. Fortnite, on the other hand, has found a way to cleanly merge the two facets of video games that never seemed to mix in the past, and did so with the addition of building. Without question, the addition of building to the game’s already aesthetic map, and interesting and novel combination of guns and movement items is the reason Fortnite has seen such immediate success.
Since releasing the game in July of 2017, Epic Games has gained a better understanding of the broad range of gamers who play the game and have made changes and updates to cater to both types of players. Originally a simple BR game that drew comparisons to even more elementary BR games such as H1Z1 and PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds, Epic Games has turned Fortnite into so much more.
To start, Epic invested heavily in the game to improve the building mechanics and to increase the console fps to 60, marking the start of Fortnite as we now know it. Since then, Epic has only improved the fluidity of the building mechanics in the game allowing players to become more and more creative in the way they use building in their fights. The new ability to build without the lag or bugginess that came on a 30 fps game has also resulted in players expressing their creativity in new ways, using their time not fighting, but instead building objects and structures to enjoy their creations and to show their friends.
After observing that many of the games users were using the building mechanic, Epic introduced playground mode, allowing players to reach a full material count and build at will instantly. This was an instant success, as many streamers switched completely to playing in playground mode as it allowed for endless build battles that brought out creative and new strategies for competitive streamers and their fans to use.
Epic took this a step further to cater towards their more imaginative audience by introducing creative mode. Essentially a playground mode that allowed you to design your own island, the creative mode has become the most recent trend in Fortnite.
Because Fortnite caters to both the analytical, competitive gamer as well as the creative one, it supports a range of content creators, some of which do not even play the BR portion of the game. LazarBeam is an excellent example of this. He posts weekly videos of ideas he comes up with on his own or takes from Reddit, all of which take place in either playground or creative mode. Many other creative content creators ventured from games like Minecraft to play Fortnite because, although it primarily is a BR game, features more creative options than any other game on the market today.
While these aspects of Fortnite make it incredibly fun to play, they also make the game fun and interesting to watch. This has had a pronoun effect on the popularity of the competitive side of Fortnite, and have ultimately lead to it being the premier shooter Esports game of 2018. As opposed to other shooter games with established Esports scenes like Call of Duty and CS:GO, which, as an avid viewer like myself can attest to, become repetitive as players use the same guns and play the same rotation of game modes over and over, competitive Fortnite games are always unique in one way or another. This is a product of a few core differences that Fortnite provides relative to the shooters mentioned above.
To start, the BR format provides novelty to every game through the central concept that the closing circle is different in each game. Sometimes players will find themselves in an end-game circle that does not feature anything, merely a circle of flat ground where players are forced to build their own cover or risk being easily picked off by an enemy. In other matches, the closing circles involve natural cover, such as a large hill or even a divot covered in dust that provides natural cover and high ground that teams will risk most of their materials and health just to own because of the indisputable advantages it provides relative to their opponents on the low ground. Simply put, Fortnite has an advantage because of the randomness of the game; an aspect that only a few other competitive games have to offer.
To contrast the advantages Fortnite has over other popular Esports games even further, it is important to consider how not only each game of Fortnite is more original than each game of Call of Duty, but how each gunfight is more unique too. In any other shooter, there is only really one option; kill or be killed. In Black Ops 4, players generally have only one gun, and whoever sees the other player first is usually the one who will win the gunfight. While the addition of specialist abilities and equipment have given more variability to the CWL, many of these items are banned for being too overpowered, and players are forced to use the same equipment, like frag grenades and trophy systems, that have been in the game for nearly a decade.
Fortnite, on the other hand, allows you to build, launch, or even shockwave yourself to an advantageous position that is unparalleled in the competitive gaming scene. Players now have a third option; kill, be killed, or reset the fight using building or any of the dozens of movement items that Epic Games has added. Instead of simply accepting defeat when a player is shot first, he can build a wall, process the situation he is in, and use one of the items mentioned above to give him an advantage over his opponent.
This situational fluidity is what makes Fortnite such an interesting game to both play and watch at the most competitive level. As a viewer, you cannot only watch the outcome of the matches but can imagine all of the possible ways your favorite streamer could use his potentially endless amount of movement items, throwables, and weapons to his advantage. Given that there are statistically an endless amount of outcomes that could result in the building that takes place during each fight, as well as the constantly changing set of guns and items, Fortnite never loses its novelty as a competitive game.
Fortnite certainly has taken the shooter genre to a new level with its entirely novel combination of competitiveness and creativity. Because of this, I believe that as the video game industry progresses, we will begin to see more shooters that are not simply shooter games, but games that follow the mold that Fortnite was formed by. A mold that does not put a limit on creativity yet one that encourages it. I believe that Fortnite is the beginning of a new type of video game. A type of game that brings together the competitive and creative games that have been mutually exclusive in the past.
Simply put, Epic Games has put together an entirely new type of video game that is, most importantly, a ton of fun for everyone.