And so it begins.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds brought battle royale games into the mainstream, but in just a few months, Fortnite has taken over. It’s passed PUBG’s player count. It’s the most-watched game on Twitch, doubling PUBG’s viewership. At the beginning of 2018, search interest for Fortnite skyrocketed and hasn’t fallen back since.
For those who don’t know Fortnite‘s tumultuous seven-year history, it was initially just a PVE shooter letting four players build constructs and blow up zombies. But when the developers at Epic decided to release a free battle royale game mode to get more players on board, PUBG’s developer, Bluehole, voiced concerns about whether Fortnite is nothing more than a brazen rip-off.
Fortnite’s cartoonish art style and building mechanics were certainly different, but many PUBG players were still fuming.
Either way, the public has spoken, and Fortnite is now leading a genre that’s taking the gaming industry by storm. Both are still wildly successful, but a few key features have launched Fortnite past being a mere success and into becoming a phenomenon.
Once on the ground, search for weapons and other gear.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET It’s free
You simply can’t beat zero cost to entry. Even as a PUBG megafan, you’d still download a free game to check it out. PUBG currently costs $29.99, which is good for a top-tier game, but can’t compete with something that’s absolutely free. This is certainly the single biggest reason for why Fortnite is getting downloaded, but it’s not the only one.
It’s on PC, consoles and mobile (soon)
You could originally play Fortnite on PC, Xbox and PS4. PUBG currently only works on PC and Xbox, and the Xbox version, while serviceable, still needs a lot of work.
It’s also important to note that in a recent update, Epic Games announced (and delivered) a 60fps upgrade to Fortnite’s graphics, and it doesn’t even require the more high-powered PS4 Pro or Xbox One consoles; it’s an enormous improvement on just the base models of those consoles, and it looks damn good.
On Monday, Epic opened registration for iOS users to get a complete version of the game — the same version on consoles and PC — and you’ll be able to play Fortnite on your iPhone or iPad in cross-platform games. It’s not yet available for Android, but Epic says that’s coming in the next few months.
As the storm closes in, keep moving, but watch out for enemies.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET The high-energy, high-output development team
Aside from being free, this might be the most important ingredient in Fortnite’s popularity. Nearly every week there is something new, whether it’s a new area added to the map, seasonal events with new ways to find loot, or new items and guns to get people excited to play.
I can think of weapon additions over the last several weeks like the silenced pistol, the silenced submachine gun, the hand cannon, a minigun and — the latest — a hunting rifle. Every one of these additions means you head into a game hoping to get one of the new guns. It’s simply a great way to keep players interested and waiting for the next new thing that keeps the game exciting.
Epic is constantly streamlining and working on Fortnite. In addition to all the towns and areas we had before, Epic added Junk Junction, Haunted Hills, Snobby Shores, Shifty Shafts, Tilting Towers and — most recently — Lucky Landings, a celebration of Chinese New Year with a village full of Asian-themed architecture and decorations. That’s not to mention countless