Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no denying the impact Fortnite has had on the gaming landscape. What started as a cooperative survival shooter, Fortnite eventually became the biggest online game in the world, due in part to its massive live events. It’s one thing to consistently update your game with limited-time events, but what Epic Games does with Fortnite is a little different, and it has certainly changed how we perceive what the medium can do.
To signify the end of a season, the game will often feature large-scale events that unfold before your eyes, leading to huge changes to the map and meta, while leaving its audience guessing what will happen next. That last point is significant, as it brings people together and gives incentive to keep checking in frequently. With many games, huge changes are often added with an update, but in Fortnite, you actually get to see these changes unfold as they happen. Other times, Fortnite’s live events don’t alter the map, but still feature once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you wouldn’t expect to see.
There has been a slew of live events in Fortnite, all of which are enjoyable in their own way. But which ones are the best? In this list, we’ll take a look at the very best live events we’ve seen in Fortnite, from in-game concerts by real artists to large-scale map changes, and even showcases that coincide with real-world cultural issues.
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Regardless of how Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker turned out, getting to see an exclusive clip from the film prior to its release in Fortnite was an unprecedented experience. It was exciting enough to see the early footage, but doing so within a video game was historical. The way it was presented helped draw a massive crowd of millions of players — an impressive feat, displaying the melding of mediums. On December 14, 2019, players all over the world gathered around to watch the Millennium Falcon battle it out against enemy ships, followed by a live discussion with the film’s director, J.J. Abrams, and ending with actual footage from the upcoming movie. This set the stage for future events, in which players would watch films within the game together, like the recent premiere of the Tenet trailer.
Even if you don’t play Fortnite — or games, in general — you probably at least heard about The End event that occurred on October 13, 2019. It was similar to other events, in which players watched the map change before their eyes. But what happened after that was a game-changer. Following an onslaught of rockets crashing upon the world, everything was sucked into a black hole, leading to the game going offline for over a day, while players were left wondering what happened. Fortnite’s social media accounts were all blacked out, their posts became hidden, and the game’s audience had no idea what was going to happen. Finally, on October 15, 2019, the black hole exploded and introduced the beginning of Fortnite chapter two, bringing new changes to the game and new content to enjoy. What could have just been a downloadable update turned into an event — and the discussions online certainly helped market the game for free.
On July 20, 2019, Fortnite was home to The Final Showdown event, which featured a live battle between a gargantuan monster and a mech. The fight’s participants were the size of mountains, and all players could do was sit back in awe of what was unfolding before them. As the battle ensued, parts of the map were destroyed, leading to the mech delivering the final blow to the monster with a sword. After the monster went down, its remains (along with the sword) became an explorable part of the map. Reading a breakdown of what happened during the battle doesn’t do it justice, though. We recommend you check out a YouTube video to see just how epic this fight was.
While Fortnite had featured minor live events before this one, The Meteor was the first one of such a grand scale. The Meteor may not have included live music or huge battles between monsters and mechs, but it was the first time players all joined together to wonder what would happen next. Toward the end of April 2018, comets crashed down on the map, destroying buildings, and eventually, what was once known as Dusty Depot was turned into Dusty Divot. This destruction led to the release of Fortnite’s season four.
The snowstorm that occurred in Fortnite on January 19, 2019, was insane. This event, known as The Ice Storm, was caused by the Ice King and marked the start of season seven. In it, the giant Ice King could be seen at the top of Polar Peak, and — with the wave of his hand — covered the entire map in a blanket of snow. Following the change, players would jump back in and find that, not only had the map turned into a frozen popsicle, but it was now home to deadly ice zombies to defeat. This was yet another example of a ubiquitous evolution of the map, which players could all experience together.
Players might remember that on November 4, 2018, The Cube (aka Kevin) that had been making its way around Fortnite’s map had finally exploded after leaking energy into Loot Lake. Following The Cube’s explosion, players were blinded by a white light and sent to a place called The In-Between — an alternate dimension. Here, a rift began to form, eventually taking the shape of a butterfly. The butterfly then landed on each player’s finger, leading to yet another explosion that sent players back to the map. Only, when they had returned, Loot Lake had gone through a substantial physical change, featuring small, natural islands. Loot Lake had become Leaky Lake. This was one of the most memorable moments of a massive, physical evolution of the map.
What was noteworthy about The Unvaulting event in Fortnite is that it spawned a massive map change, but also allowed players to “unvault” a new weapon, which was chosen by the community. The implementation of this event proved that players could actually have an impact on the game’s occurrences, not just experience them. On May 4, 2019, you could jump into the vault, which sent you to the In-Between, much like the Butterfly Event. Here, players chose to unvault the Drum Gun, which was added to the game following the event. But after the weapon was chosen, an explosion sent players back into the map, where a large volcano had formed and then erupted. From here, lava flooded areas of the map, which destroyed and subsequently changed them forever.
While this event isn’t as flashy as the others, its importance cannot be overstated — especially with how it ties to actual real-world issues. Following the death of George Floyd at the end of May 2020, discussions of systemic racism began to rise, leading to protests and large-scale public outcry. Fortnite joined in and hosted We the People, a presentation featuring a conversation between four big names in the black community across varying industries. It featured rapper Killer Mike, CNN’s Van Jones, former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth, and The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill. The discussion aired on July 4, 2020, and lasted around 45 minutes, featuring the aforementioned guests covering ways to make changes in the world when it comes to racism. Seeing a subject matter like this tackled in such a way was a bold move by Epic Games, and one that absolutely needed to happen.
Fortnite’s The Device event occurred on June 15, 2020, and it featured the destruction of one of the map’s most iconic areas, The Agency. Players could watch the event, as five columns rose up, while the Doomsday Device in the center emitted large forces of energy. After an explosion, players were sent to an office building from a first-person perspective, in which a desk with Top Secret documents could be seen. A storm overtook The Agency, surrounding it with The Wall of Water, until finally, the area was destroyed. This then led to The Agency turning into The Authority, which can be found in the center of the game’s map. As one of Fortnite’s most recent live events, this signaled the start of chapter two, season three — and you can play it right now.
This was yet another historic event, in which millions of people got together to enjoy a live concert, featuring a performance by rapper Travis Scott — all within Fortnite. It was heartwarming to see so many people come together to enjoy music, and the way it was handled was absolutely fascinating. The concert started at a stage but later expanded to new heights, as the performer, Travis Scott, made an appearance — towering over the players. It was so monumental that 27 million players tuned in over the concert’s three-day run from April 23 to April 25, 2020. Absolutely incredible.
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