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Fortnite (10515 views - Game & Play & Gamification)

Fortnite is a co-op sandbox survival game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly, with Epic Games 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. 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 rise 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 game genre, was released for the same platforms in September 2017.
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Fortnite

Fortnite

Fortnite
Developer(s)
Publisher(s) Epic Games
Director(s) Darren Sugg[1]
Artist(s) Pete Ellis[2]
Composer(s) Rom Di Prisco[3]
Engine Unreal Engine 4
Platform(s)
Release 2018
Genre(s) Survival
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Fortnite is a co-op sandbox survival game developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly, with Epic Games 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.

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 rise 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 game genre, was released for the same platforms in September 2017.

Synopsis

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.

Gameplay

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,[4] and later offered as a separate free-to-play mode on September 26, 2017, that does not require the base game to play.[5]

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.[6] Tim Sweeney, Epic's founder, described the game as "Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead".[7] The game cycles between managing one's resources at a safe home base, and then going out on missions to complete quests as to collect resources and obtain rewards to advance the game's story.

In the meta-game, the player has an inventory of weapon and trap schematics, hero characters, defender characters, and support characters, along with collected resources. Schematics are used to construct weapons and traps when on the field. Hero characters represent characters from one of four classes that the player can use while on a mission, as well as used to undertake resource-gathering missions making them unavailable to use until they return from the mission. Defender characters can be summoned to help with defense but only if there are less than four players on a mission. Support characters are used to form various non-playable squads that provide passive bonuses to the player's attack strength, building speed, armor, and health, with additional benefits if the player can match certain characterization attributes within a squad. The player can spend different types of experience points and resources earned as mission rewards, from loot boxes (represented as llama pinatas), or other sources to level up and evolve schematics and characters. For weapons and traps, this generally boosts their effectiveness as well as unlocking additional attribute bonuses, while leveling up hero characters will unlock special skills the character has while in the field. Schematics and characters are generally assigned a rarity, which determines how much they can be leveled and evolved. A player's inventory of schematics and characters is limited, but players can opt to slot anyone they do not need into a collection book to gain rewards when certain collection sets are completed; use one or more of these schematics or characters to transform them into a new random item, or simply retire them to gain back experience points and other resources to free up the inventory slots.[8][9]

The player also can spend skill points, earned by completing missions, and technology points, earned over time, to unlock new skills and technologies in the game's skill and technologies trees. These can improve a player's base attributes, attributes that are shared with the other players while on missions, unlock higher levels of evolution for schematics and characters, open up new squad positions, or unlock general skills that players can use in the field. Collectively, the player's progress on these skill and technology trees, their squad composition, and their selected hero character make up the player's current "power level" which relates to what difficulty of missions the player should take and the game's matchmaking services. Also, players can review their current story progress and quests, which can include daily, side, and event quests, which when completed provide in-game currency or resources.

Mission is currently divided between four world locations, some available only after progressing far enough in the story, and special locations for timed events and for the Survive the Storm mode. Within a location are several possible mission areas that show the type of mission, the terrain it takes place on, its difficulty rating relative to the player's current power level, and whether the mission is currently under special "storm" conditions that throw random effects, like buffed husks or mini-bosses, into the mission but have potentially better rewards if completed. The player optionally can select a special site that automatically matches them with players at a similar power level and story progression on a random mission for added rewards.

Most missions take place on procedurally-generated landscapes. Most missions are based on locating site(s) representing the objectives on the map, build up fortifications around those locations, and then face off against several waves of husks that will try to destroy the objectives. During completion of these missions, players are generally given a "storm forecast" to know where husks will spawn in as to enhance fortification in that direction, though this direction can change in more difficult missions. Other missions are time-limited, requiring the players to locate and help a number of survivors, build out several radar towers, or clear out various encampment of husks scattered around the map before time runs out. These missions encourage the players to explore the map and farm for resources (either by searching objects or destroying them with an axe) used to build the fortifications, weapons, ammunition, and traps needed to defend or attack the husks. Players also frequently need to seek out bluglo, a special resource that does not carry over between maps to activate certain mission objectives. Some missions are considered a loss if the objective is destroyed or time runs out, while other missions allow the players to rework their fortifications and start their defense again if the objective is destroyed. Maps will frequently have optional objectives that are discovered through exploration, such as human survivors that need help. Completing these successfully earn immediate in-game rewards such as resources, weapons, and traps. Missions themselves may provide bonus objectives, such as by completing the mission within a certain in-game period, using a limited number of fortification pieces, or saving more survivors than the minimum necessary, which affects the qualify of rewards the players receive after the successful completion of the main mission.

During missions, players can make their fortifications from one of three base materials (wood, brick, and metal), and in a number of configurations, including floors/ceilings, walls, stairs, and ramps; players have the ability to edit these for more configurations, such as adding a door or window to a wall. Each fortification part can be upgraded with more resources of the same type to improve their durability, and when they are damaged, can be repaired by spending additional resources. Traps, which have a limited number of activation before they fall apart, can be placed on floors, walls, and ceilings, and arranged in means to make them more lethal or effective against husks. Traps may also include beneficial resources for players, such as healing pads, defender posts, and launch pads. Similarly, players can use a range of weapons but these have limited durability that drops as they are used or as a penalty if the player should be downed by husks and need to respawn without the help of allies. Players can construct new weapons, ammo, and traps from gathered resources, or find these from searching containers across the map. During missions, the game progresses through an accelerated day-night cycle; during the day, the husks are more passive and do not generally pose immediate threats, while during the night, bands of husks may spawn in and will aggressively seek out players.

One unique mission type is Storm Shield Defense missions. In each of the four world locations, the player is allocated a map that remains persistent, representing the site where their base's storm shield generator is placed, and in the storm mode, the player must return to this map to expand the storm shield, requiring them to add a new objective to defend successfully to continue the story. At any time, the player can enter this map without starting the defense mission, and use their carried-over resources to build out the fortification and traps, or add resources to a special storage area for this map.

Fortnite is also able to offer themed-events with a unique progression line, new locations, and rewards based on those themes. 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.[10]

Battle Royale

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.[5]

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 of 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.[11]

Development

History

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.[12] 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".[13] The title, which started out as an internal game jam project,[14] represents a departure from the company's previous work.[12] 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."[12] 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."[15] 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".[16]

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.[17] 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.[18][19] 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.[20] Bleszinski later clarified that they would not rule out release on other platforms as they developed the title.[21]

Fortnite's development was spread among several of Epic's satellite studios,[22] 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.[23][24] By March 2014, there were about 90 developers working on the game.[14] 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.[25]

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.[26] 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.[27] Fortnite's development was also slowed as it was used as the testing ground for the new features of the Unreal 4 engine.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29]

By 2014, Fortnite was at a "pretty functional prototype" with most of the Unreal 4 engine elements smoothed out, according to Mustard.[27] 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.[27] 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 19, 2014, while Online Test 2 ran from March 24 to April 14, 2015.[30][31] 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."[30] After being demoed at WWDC 2015 on Mac, Fortnite entered closed beta testing in the fall of 2015.[32] Approximately 50,000 players participated in these periods.[27]

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."[33]

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.[34][35] 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.[35] 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.[36]

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.[21] They used works from Pixar, Tim Burton, and Looney Tunes as inspiration for the designs.[21][37]

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.[38] 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.[38]

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".[39]

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.[40]

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.[41] 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 might be able to include planned features to their Battle Royale mode before they could release those in Battlegrounds.[42][43][44]

With the popularity of Fortnite: Battle Royale by the start of 2018, Epic split off a separate development team to focus on improvements for that mode.[45] Epic said that their attention to Fortnite was causing some of their other games to see lower player populations, leading them to reduce development efforts on these games, particularly Paragon.[46] By the end of January 2018, Epic announced it was shutting down Paragon by April of that year, providing refunds to all players.[47] Players on a Fortnite-dedicated Reddit forum had expressed concerns that a similar fate could befall the Save the World mode of Fortnite, as externally, the Save the World mode has not received the same attention in providing updates and improvements compared to the Battle Royale mode since that mode's release.[48]

Reception

Sales

On July 26, 2017, it was announced that Fortnite had sold over 500,000 digital pre-order copies.[1] On August 18, 2017, Epic confirmed that Fortnite had surpassed over a million players.[49] The game's free-to-play battle royale mode obtained over 10 million players two weeks after its release.[50]

Accolades

Eurogamer ranked the game 32nd on their list of the "Top 50 Games of 2017".[51] It was also nominated for "Best Co-op Game" in PC Gamer's 2017 Game of the Year Awards,[52] and for "Best Spectator Game" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards.[53]

Year Award Category Result Ref.
2017 Global Game Awards 2017 Best Survival 3rd Place [54]
Best Free 2 Play (Battle Royale) 2nd Place [55]
The Game Awards 2017 Best Multiplayer Nominated [56]
2018 16th Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project (A Hard Day's Night) Nominated [57][58]
D.I.C.E. Awards Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay Nominated [59][60]
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in Multiplayer Pending [61]
Excellence in Gameplay Pending
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