When Apex Legends released last year, my friends and I were overjoyed. Here was a battle royale we could get into. Crisp shooting with lots of guns, fun characters with unique powers, and a helpful ping system left us hungry to jump into this explosive multiplayer genre.
Then we died. A lot. And died some more. Meeting an enemy team was near-instant death, every time.
At the risk of further humiliation and demoralizing evenings, we ultimately shelved Apex Legends. I continued to watch the genre from afar, my hands pressed against the glass of the battle royale sweet shop, not daring to venture inside. Until Spellbreak appeared in the window.
Shove over, Minecraft and Pokémon GO, there’s a new gaming phenomenon in town. Over the last year Epic Games’ Battle Royale-style shooter Fortnite has become one of the most popular games on the planet.
Even if you’re not a teen or the parent of a teen, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of Fortnite. But what is it exactly? Is it okay for younger kids to play? How much of it is online interaction? What does Battle Royale mean? Read our Parents’ Guide to Fortnite for answers to these questions and more.
One of the most popular booths on the show floor at PAX South 2018 was Microsoft’s Mixer booth, which was hosting the Darwin Project. Developed by indie Canadian studio Scavengers Studio, Microsoft quickly saw the potential between creating a Hunger Games-like action-survival game, and incorporating their own live streaming software, Mixer. The result was a throng of people crowded around the Mixer booth as they yelled to nuke certain zones and cheered to bestow buffs and aid to their favorite players.
It’s Battle Royale, with audience participation.
Fortnite exists in that odd space between a public beta test and a full release. Epic Games’ online tower-defense, third-person action hybrid can be purchased right now; but it’s actually launching as a free-to-play title next year. The closest equivalent is a Steam Early Access game. An Early Access purchase grants access to the live game right now, as well as some extra loot.
Fortnite’s laborious focus on grinding and digging through random loot mars an otherwise fun experience of scavenging, leveling, shooting, building, and defending with friends.