Fortnite is the biggest game on the planet right now because it’s a living, breathing world

When Epic Games unveiled the big surprise of Fortnite & # 39; s fourth season earlier this week, fans could see looming and retain that dizzying sense of child at Christmas. The developer planned the revelation for months: a meteor in the sky loomed over the map of the game since January, and on Tuesday it crashed into the world of Fortnite to create a huge crater with extraterrestrial enhancers that challenge the gravity scattered everywhere. In addition to falling meteorites, Epic transformed his map in subtle but powerful ways, adding new structures, secret underground lairs and other comforts to serve his new superhero theme.

Most of the players expected something in this regard and yet the community of Fortnite has been effusive in its praise for the way in which construction and eventual execution were achieved. It was a shared game experience like no other. And that's what makes the fourth season of Fortnite feel like a crucial turning point for the battle royale game, which essentially involves sending 100 human players to a desert island to loot, build and shoot to victory. The experience still revolves around the same satisfactory cycle of survival. But the holistic experience Fortnite quickly resembles something more like a massively multiplayer online game, with a constantly updated narrative, a persistent world that changes everything at once for each player and a fan base with the means to personalize and equip an avatar in increasingly sophisticated ways.

Image: Epic Games

Beginning with the third season and culminating with last Tuesday's revelation, Epic began creating a narrative for Fortnite that felt giant and ambitious the way few other online games have been carried out. Players theorized about an incoming alien invasion, and whether Epic planned to destroy the controversial metropolis of the game Tilted Towers as a way to tell a story and adjust the competitive landscape of the game at the same time. While it was Dusty Depot, and not Tilted Towers, which suffered a profound impact, the effect remains the same. Epic created a narrative for an online multiplayer game exclusively outside of contextual clues, game clues and other forms of environmental narration. The end result is a game that feels richer, deeper and more useful than you would believe in its royale trappings.

Epic did not stop with the comet landing. The new theme of the superhero is also an ingenious way to build another layer in the current story and give players even more ways to express themselves. There are new disguises to unlock and ridiculous emoticons, one even taken from a popular Internet meme. But this season, Epic included two superhero masks that can only be improved by playing the game, performing challenges and leveling up using experience points in the game. You can not buy the improvements; You have to win them, like in any hardcore role-playing game. Substantial update routes, unlockable rewards and persistent but constantly changing game map make Fortnite a much more substantial experience than Playerunknown & # 39; s Battlegrounds that has static environments , immutable and boring customization options.

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Image by Nick Statt / The Verge

In this way, Fortnite feels like a more realized version of Bungie's Destiny a game that ambitiously tried and that he never achieved at all combining the best of the shooter and the design of MMO games. Like Destiny Fortnite allows players to participate in a shared world, customize characters, and now update those customization options through in-game activities. But unlike Bungie, Epic puts its construction of worlds and other upgrading efforts into the competitive multiplayer royale battle mode, without worrying too much about a traditional story or argument. Because Fortnite is free, players do not expect anything out of the main experience, and they pay only for cosmetic items and nothing more.

Epic's narrative and RPG-like approach is not a thematic side project or something the developer is doing just for fun. Focusing on building the world and giving players a common story to meet is a business imperative for a free game like Fortnite. The game can only remain relevant as long as players feel interested in what they are doing. That does not just mean playing the competitive multiplayer every day to unlock challenges or try to win a game. Engaging in Fortnite also means worrying more about the story that Epic is trying to tell, where the game is going and how that interaction between narrative and game will help the title evolve over time, as the best of MMOs

Also consider the Battle Pass, which encourages players to log in every day and complete challenges to unlock better rewards than You can only win and not buy. Each central column of Fortnite, from its growing narrative to its in-game store and its competitive seasonal multiplayer approach, fuels a cycle that helps the game to remain relevant, popular and lucrative. Players who are more invested are more likely to spend real money.

So, when people say that the future of online games looks like Fortnite they're not just talking about the Battle Royale genre, it will not feel so bright and new within a year from From now. They are talking about the combination of all the good ideas of the last decade of online games, both East and West. Like most MMOs, Fortnite is free, is constantly updated and has a massive multiplayer mode. And like the most successful games of recent years, regardless of the genre, it's free and cross-platform, it makes money using vanity cosmetics, it focuses on letting players tell their own stories, and incorporating comments from the community in a way regular.

All these aspects will inform how they develop, market and earn money in the future. And Fortnite leads the pack by illustrating how to make this combination of gender elements, innovations in the business model and raw entertainment factor have an influential and changing power of permanence in the industry.

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