Fortnite is a co-op sandbox survival video game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly, the former also publishing the game. The game was released as a paid early access title for Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 25, 2017, with a full free-to-play release expected in 2018. It features cross-progression between the PlayStation 4 and PC versions.
Fortnite is set in contemporary Earth, where the sudden appearance of a worldwide storm causes 98% of the world's population to disappear, and zombie-like creatures rising to attack the remainder. Considered by Epic as a cross between Minecraft and Left 4 Dead , Fortnite has up to four players cooperating on various missions on randomly-generated maps to collect resources, build fortifications around defensive objectives that are meant to help fight the storm and protect survivors, and construct weapons and traps to engage in combat with waves of these creatures that attempt to destroy the objectives. Players gain rewards through these missions to improve their hero characters, support teams, and arsenal of weapon and trap schematics to be able to take on more difficult missions. The game is supported through microtransactions to purchase in-game currency that can be used towards these upgrades.
A standalone mode, Fortnite Battle Royale, based on the battle royale genre, was released for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in September 2017.
One day, 98% of Earth's population suddenly disappeared, and the remaining population found the skies covered in dense clouds, creating chaotic storms that dropped husks, humanoid zombie-like creatures, that attacked the living.
The survivors found ways to construct "storm shields", a field that cleared the storm clouds from immediately overhead and reduced the attacks from husks, and used these to set up survivor bases across the globe.
The player is a commander of one of these bases, charged with going out of the storm shield to find resources, survivors, and other allies to help expand their storm shield and find a way to return Earth to its normal state.
Currently, Fortnite provides two distinct modes: a player-versus-environment "Save the World", and a player-versus-player "Battle Royale". The latter mode was added after Fortnite' s initial early access launch, [undefined] and later offered as a separate free-to-play mode on September 26, 2017, that does not require the base game to play. [undefined]
Save the World
The "Save the World" mode is described as a co-op sandbox survival game and is about exploration, scavenging items, crafting weapons, building fortified structures, and fighting waves of encroaching monsters.
In up to teams of four, players must survive and defend one or more control points from waves of zombie-like creatures.
Missions have accelerated day-and-night cycles and may cover a period of up to fourteen days.
During the day, there are few creatures, allowing players to explore the randomly-generated map, save survivors, collect resources, and use these resources to craft weapons and armor for use in combat or build defenses to protect themselves and the control point.
These defenses include walls, floors, staircases, and ceilings to create fort-like structures, and traps that will trigger when creatures pass over them.
Players have the option to use different building materials with different strength values, and to customize some structures for specific features, such as adding a door or a window.
[undefined] When night arrives, or after activating certain mission objects, creatures will spawn in waves and attempt to attack the control point and any structure in its way.
Players can use a variety of weapons to fend off the creatures and repair damage to their fort structure and otherwise protect their objective.
Missions typically have several objectives, some of which require the players to locate special goo balls around the map and bring them to an objective to end the mission or trigger the next part of it.
Players may also complete optional objectives within these missions, such as finishing the mission in a limited number of in-game days or with a limited number of defensive structures.
If these objectives are met, the players are given additional rewards at the end of the mission.
The game's primary story missions have the player construct a persistent base at a site with an ATLAS core that generates a shield that repels the storm.
The player must return to this persistent base frequently to expand it, defending the base as powering up the shield takes time before it can be expanded further.
In the "Save the World" metagame, players gain rewards such as new playable heroes, defender characters that can be deployed if there are fewer than four players playing, support characters that form squads that boost the player's and fort's attributes, schematics for new weapons, armor, traps, and other items, experience points that can be spent to improve heroes or other characters or schematics, loot crates in the form of pinatas, and in-game currency. Characters and schematics can be improved by spending experience points to level up the item or evolve it to a higher level, increasing fundamental attributes and potentially gaining new skills and bonuses. Any of these items (characters or schematics) can be slotted into a collection book, transformed into a random new item, or retired/recycled to gain experience points to spend elsewhere. Separately, the player has a skill tree and a research tree that they improve through skill points (rewards from missions) and research points (earned over time) to unlock new abilities, skills, or improve attributes. All of these elements are used to calculate a "power" rating for the player, which is used as a measure of difficulty for matches and in match-making. [undefined] [undefined]
Within "Save the World" is a separate "Horde Bash" mode added in October 2017, though shares some progression with the "Save the World" campaign.
Here, each player starts with constructing a base to protect an ATLAS core with a fixed number of resources outside of a game mode.
In a "Horde Bash" match, the player's base, along with three players' bases, are randomly located in a map, and then the player must face a number of waves of creatures that attack one of the bases at random to destroy the ATLAS core.
Players are not able to collect resources (though they can destroy objects that may be in the way), but are given resources at the start, and as part of rewards at the end of each wave; from those resources they can craft weapons, traps, or add onto a base's construction; the player's current loadouts (schematics, defenders, and squads) from the normal "Save the World" mode is used here, and the resulting power rating is used to determine the difficult of monsters they face.
Completing a Horde Bash successfully earns points towards unlocking an advancement tree that can improve the resources the player has for their base, such as providing mode building space or more resources, as well as additional resources for the player's inventory.
Fortnite is also able to offer themed-events with a unique progression line and themed rewards. The first such event was its Halloween event, "Fortnitemares", that offered Halloween-themed heroes, characters, weapons and traps (usable outside of the event) by completing numerous objectives. [undefined]
Fortnite' s "Battle Royale" mode follows similar gameplay mechanics as other battle royale games, particularly PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds . This mode supports up to 100 players, either individuals or up to four-man squads, attempting to be the last man or team standing as they hunt other players and avoid being killed themselves. Players all start with no equipment outside of a pickaxe for resource gathering, and parachute onto the map. Once they land, they can scavenge for weapons, armor, and resources, the latter which can be used to make structures in the same manner as the "Save the World" mode. Over time, a "storm" surrounds the area, and makes it so that the "safe" area of the map shrinks down in size. Once the "safe" area has shrunk to the smaller circle on the map (a thin, white circle), it will generate, at a random location, a smaller circle within. Those caught outside the area take damage and potentially die if they remain outside it too long. There are also random air drops of resources, weapons and items that may require players to construct floors and ramps to access, with varying randomized items determined by rarity. Players can use real money to purchase in-game currency, which can be used to purchase cosmetic items. [undefined]
During The Game Awards 2017 on December 7, 2017, Epic announced and released a time-limited 50-versus-50 mode for Battle Royale, the first of several planned game modes. In this, players are randomly assigned to one of two teams, and play until only members from one team remain, with all other Battle Royale mechanics otherwise in place. The mode encourages players on a team to work together to scavenge resources in anticipation of the smaller safe areas, and then to build up forts when the safe area is small enough, protecting their own fortifications while trying to damage the other teams' and finish off the remaining players. [undefined]
Fortnite was first revealed at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards (VGA), with Epic's former design director Cliff Bleszinski introducing a trailer for the game. [undefined] Donald Mustard, creative lead at Epic, said in 2017 that this announcement was "three weeks after we came up with the idea, before we even made the game". [undefined] The game, which started out as an internal game jam project, [undefined] represents a departure from the company's previous work. [undefined] As Bleszinski explained during the Spike event, Epic wanted to "switch things up a little bit and do something different and fun" with Fortnite, describing it as "a world where you explore, you scavenge, you build and ultimately you survive." [undefined] In an interview with Engadget , he also echoed these statements, claiming that the game would be different from the Gears of War series: "There's no dudebros in it...Not that there's anything wrong with that, right? But creatively for the team, Gears has been amazing for us. But it's fun to kind of stretch our wings and do something that's a little different from the usual." [undefined] Epic Games Vice President of Publishing Mike Fischer said in 2015 that Epic recognized that they "announced this game too soon", and that its lengthy development was due to "very good reasons". [undefined]
As the game was at its very preliminary stages at the VGA reveal, the goal of this reveal was to seek public interest in the title and potential publishing partners as to decide on the game's release platforms and timeframe.
[undefined] During the July 2012 San Diego Comic Con, Epic announced that Fortnite would be an exclusive personal computer title, and the first one to be developed by Epic using their new Unreal 4 game engine, with a planned release in 2013. [undefined] [undefined] The game's development was originally started in the Unreal 3 engine, but as they progressed, they had seen the opportunity to work in several of the new feature sets and scripting language offered by Unreal 4 for Fortnite, while still running on most personal computers at that time. They further opted for personal computer exclusivity to avoid the difficulty of having to go through console certification, and as they planned to be constantly monitoring and tweaking the game, acting as a dungeon master, the personal computer approach would allow them to do this without restrictions normally set by console manfuctures. [undefined] Bleszinski later clarified that they would not rule out release on other platforms as they developed the title. [undefined]
Fortnite' s development was spread among several of Epic's satellite studios, [undefined] and was also co-developed by the Polish studio People Can Fly, which had worked with Epic previously on earlier games, and had been fully acquired by Epic sometime in 2012. People Can Fly were briefly renamed Epic Games Poland in 2013 as to align with Epic's other studios. [undefined] [undefined] By March 2014, there were about 90 developers working on the game. [undefined] People Can Fly later returned to being an independent studio and their own name in 2015, but continued to help Epic with Fortnite' s development. [undefined]
During Fortnite' s development, Epic had seen the game industry shifting to games as a service model. To help with this transition, the company brought in Tencent who had several games operating under this model. As part of this agreement, Tencent bought a significant share of ownership in Epic Games through stock acquisition around June 2012. The shifting of Epic's approach through Tencent led to the departure of some high-level staff later that year, including Bleszinski. [undefined] Fortnite was seen as the spearhead for Epic's games-as-a-service model as they collaborated with Tencent. This caused some road bumps in the development of Fortnite, according to Mustard. [undefined] Fortnite' s development was also slowed as it was used as the testing ground for the new features of the Unreal 4 engine. [undefined]
By November 2013, Epic confirmed that Fortnite would not release that year, nor offered a target released date, through affirmed the game was still in development by several of its studios. [undefined] Fortnite was a feature in the May 2014 issue of Game Informer , revealing that the title would be released as a free-to-play game. [undefined]
By 2014, Fortnite was at a "pretty functional prototype" with most of the Unreal 4 engine elements smoothed out, according to Mustard. [undefined] Epic anticipated it would still take about three more years to complete, not only in polishing and balancing the game, but setting in place the necessary backend elements for the games-as-a-service model. [undefined] To help support development and get player feedback, Epic used two closed alpha test periods. The game's first closed alpha, called Online Test 1, ran from December 2 to December 19, 2014, while Online Test 2 ran from March 24 to April 14, 2015. [undefined] [undefined] Epic said the first alpha was designed to help it "make sure all of our basic systems are working" and establish "a baseline for how people play in order to make Fortnite better." [undefined] After being demoed at WWDC 2015 on Mac, Fortnite entered closed beta testing in the fall of 2015. [undefined] Approximately 50,000 players participated in these periods. [undefined]
Fortnite was being developed alongside Paragon , which Epic announced on November 2015. As Paragon seemed to take Epic's focus, leaving little news about Fortnite, CEO Tim Sweeney said in March 2016 that they were still committed to Fortnite once Paragon was launched and established, given that much of the work on Fortnite would take time to get the right balance for gameplay. "We figure we should start with one major successful launch and do one at a time. Fortnite will be next." [undefined]
By July 2017, Epic Games announced that Fortnite was now set for a 2018 release across Windows, macOS, and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. Leading up to this free-to-play release, the game was offered as a paid early access period starting on July 25, 2017 for all platforms; those that purchases access would be given a "Founders" status in-game with additional perks that would extend into the free-to-play game. [undefined] [undefined] The lengthy period since the game's alpha phases was ascribed to developing Fortnite as a games-as-a-service model, according to creative lead Donald Mustard. While the game was in a playable state for the two years prior, Epic wanted to be able to develop ongoing content to players to keep them interested in the title, such as planning timed events with unique rewards, following in the approach used by games like League of Legends and Warframe . [undefined] At the time of the start of early access, Epic announced that Gearbox Software will help distribute the game on physical media once it is released. [undefined]
Art and design
In their initial prototypes of the game, Epic had used more creepier and darker designs for the husks and other enemies.
Bleszinski said that they found this to create an "exhaustive environment" that was too grim, and designed to take the design in a more cartoonish approach, while still remaining creepy, so that players would enjoy spending time in the game's world, nor try to compete with games like DayZ . [undefined] They used works from Pixar, Tim Burton, and Looney Tunes as inspiration for the designs. [undefined] [undefined]
Fortnite uses procedural generation to build out the maps for each mission. The game also includes an "AI director" that monitors how players are progressing, and alters the challenges of the monsters it sends out to the players based on that progression, easing off if players are having greater difficulty in surviving. [undefined] At one point, the game had a team-based player versus player mode, where each side attempted to build up a base around a central target while trying to attack the opponent's target after breaking through their base. This did not make it into the final game. [undefined]
Epic currently has cross-platform play between PC and PS4 and has stated plans to allow separate Fortnite cross-platform support for Xbox One and personal computer users, but cross-platform play between all three platforms has not been announced. However, for a few hours during one day in September 2017, players found they could cross-play between all three platforms. Epic later corrected this, calling it a "configuration error". [undefined]
Battle Royale mode
In March 2017, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds was released on personal computers in early access, and quickly became a popular and successful game, becoming the defining example of the battle royale genre. According to Mustard, the Epic team "loved Battle Royale games like [Battlegrounds]", and explored how they could make a similar mode within Fortnite' s engine. They kept this mode in a separate development team from the main player versus environment modes for experimentation and as to not throw off the balance in the main game. [undefined]
The Battle Royale mode for Fortnite was announced in early September 2017 for release to early access users on September 26, 2017. However, within a week, Epic changed plans and decided to offer this mode as a standalone free-to-play game for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms to be released on September 26, 2017; those that had purchased early access to Fortnite in anticipation of this mode were offered refunds. [undefined] This release, which beat out Battlegrounds to consoles, caused some concern with Battlegrounds developer Bluehole, as they had been working closely with Epic for Unreal engine support in Battlegrounds, and were worried that Fortnite may be able to include planned features to their Battle royale mode before they could release those in Battlegrounds. [undefined] [undefined] [undefined]
On July 26, 2017, it was announced that Fortnite had sold over 500,000 digital pre-order copies. [undefined] On August 18, 2017, Epic confirmed that Fortnite has surpassed over one million players. [undefined] The game's free-to-play battle royale mode obtained over 10 million players two weeks after its release. [undefined]