I’ve won two games of Fortnite, and both of them were by accident. Thank you to whoever I was up against for dying in the storm (I think this happened both times?) even though you clearly knew how to build properly and shoot under pressure without sending half your bullets into the sky. I’m sorry I was just crouching in a bush (again, I’m pretty sure both times). I was simply happy to have gotten that far.
Battle royale games are about being the last one standing, but on this Fortnite stands apart. Its success lies in its focus on being fun for everyone else – the 99 players who don’t win and are simply there for the ride. So there are weekly challenges and mini-games, limited-time modes, a near-constant cycling in and out of weapons, items and entire mechanics. And then there are the map changes, which make Fortnite’s world feel different nearly every time you log on. Sometimes these are minor – a few trucks shifted a little further along a road somewhere. Sometimes these are huge – a whole region changing at the start of a new season. But just once – a few weeks ago – a map-changing event happened live in-game, as the whole world watched either within Fortnite itself, or as one of millions viewing streams on Twitch and YouTube. It was the conclusion to more than six months of Fortnite’s meandering ongoing storyline, and a unique moment unlike anything seen before.
Up until then, each new map alteration had required server downtime and a big patch to download. If something did happen live in-game, it was simply fireworks: stuff going on in the sky with no immediate changes elsewhere. So this is what everyone was expecting once more, when it became clear Fortnite’s enormous purple cube – nicknamed Kevin by fans – was reaching the end of his life. Kevin had been rumbling around the map since late August, creating the first PvE enemies, turning a whole area into jelly, lifting another chunk of the island into mid-air. But Kevin was also just the product of whole other, longer chain of events – a rift in the sky caused by a bootstrapped rocket, launched by a character who arrived from the future, via a comet first spotted in the sky all the way back in March.