Fortnite is an online multiplayer video game. You've probably heard its name a lot recently. It's very popular. Your kid is probably playing it. A host of Australian NRL players have been celebrating tries with Fortnite poses and, hey, Drake is notoriously big on it.
If you're struggling to keep up... We can help.
What Is Fortnite?
Fortnite is an online co-operative sandbox video game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly and released into Early Access in 2017. However, Fortnite's major success - and the Fortnite you're now hearing all about - is a standalone free-to-play online multiplayer game.
Fortnite Battle Royale is part of a relatively new genre of video games known as 'Battle Royale'. That moniker is taken from the Japanese film of the same name, which pits a group of Japanese high schoolers against one another in a fight to the death. If you're unfamiliar with that film, you may understand it better by looking to the Hunger Games, which also utilises a similar theme. A giant arena, many contestants, fight to the death.
Fortnite (and the Battle Royale genre) is essentially about three things: Exploration, Scavenging and Killing. At the beginning of every game, you and your opponents start with very little equipment and supplies. Once you've landed on the map, you're ready to start playing, scavenging and destroying opponents.
To complicate matters, just a little, the playable area gets smaller and smaller as time goes on, forcing all the players to a central point. This mechanic means you can't just hide out on the edge of the map, waiting for someone to walk by, to get a win. You need to, as S Club 7 sang, keep on movin'.
Fortnite also has a lot of construction elements. You can break down the environment to gather materials which you can then use to build fortifications that help to protect you from gunfire or traverse the map in different ways.
It's gained a huge amount of traction in the mainstream press, for a few reasons. The first is that, seemingly everyone is playing it. Head over to Twitch and you'll regularly find Fornite in the top two (unless there's a huge League of Legends event, it'll likely be sitting at number one). The second reason? Last week Drake jumped into a stream with popular Fortnite streamer 'Ninja' and the internet went crazy.
Fortnite's popularity is sky-rocketing, but not because it's the first game of its kind.
In the past year or so, another Battle Royale video game dominated the news cycle: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds or PUBG. Though not the first Battle Royale game, it quickly became the most popular and was played and streamed by all sorts of Twitch and YouTube gaming stars. Last year, PUBG peaked at over 3 million active concurrent players - which broke the previous record, also set by PUBG, on Steam.
An impressive feat.
Wait - What Is PUBG?
In 2017, PUBG was untouchable.
Originally starting off as a DayZ mod designed by Brendan Greene, PUBG started gaining in popularity because it was easy to understand, quickly replayable, approachable for newcomers and well, damn near everybody was playing it. Moreover, it's randomness makes it particularly watchable and no doubt some of its success can be attributed to the rise of streaming and watching others play video games online.
PUBG's popularity propelled the battle royale genre into the spotlight but its hold on the genre seems to be slipping as Fortnite rockets to supremacy.
Unlike Fortnite Battle Royale, PUBG is not free-to-play and maintains a more hardened, realistic vibe. It doesn't have the same bright visuals or fort-building elements, either, which gives Fortnite a major point of difference and adds an extra layer of depth to a relatively simple formula.
How Can I Play Fortnite?
Fornite Battle Royale is free to download and play on Windows, Mac, PS4, Xbox One and iOS right now. An Android version is in the works. If you're wanting to grab the game, you need to head to Epic Games Fortnite website and sign up for an Epic Games account.
Okay, I Downloaded It, But I Have No Idea What I'm Doing
Whoa, slow down there sailor. You're going to be okay.
If you're going to start anywhere, I'd start by watching Twitch streams of people actually playing the game to get a feel for it. Of course, Ninja - one of Twitch's biggest streamers - might be a good place to start.
There are a ton of resources that will help you out though - SkillUp have a pretty comprehensive guide sponsored by Epic, which landed on release day and that's an Aussie channel too. You could also look to Epic's Fortnite Forums (especially Urgist's mammoth guide) to really get a feel for what tips and tricks people are using to play Fortnite.
Want to be a Victory Royale specialist? Well, just keep playing. Truly, you'll only find a play style you're comfortable with by jumping in!