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What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is the most popular game in the world, with millions of rabid fans playing the game daily across various platforms. If you’re just now hearing about the hit battle-royale title, you might be asking, “What is Fortnite?” In this guide, we’re going to answer that question, and cover the game’s many modes, items, and other highlights while discussing what platforms — and age groups — it’s best suited for.

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What is Fortnite?

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Fortnite is at heart a battle royale game, developed by Epic Games. In it, players drop into a map, either on their own or with a team, alongside 99 other players. After landing, it’s a mad dash to pick up as many weapons and items as possible, all while working your way toward the center of the map. Whoever is the last player standing wins the match.

Unlike traditional multiplayer games, Fortnite only has a single, large map for any particular season. At the early points in the game, you’re unlikely to encounter that many players, in fact. However, as the game progresses, there’s a ring that slowly closes toward a central point on the map. If you’re caught outside the ring, your character will die.

Fortnite is similar to games like PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds and Apex Legends in its format. However, it has one unique feature. In Fortnite, your character can build structures as you go. That allows you to set traps, build forts, and create cover during the game. Unlike other battle royale games, you’ll need to master shooting and building to be successful at Fortnite.

Fortnite’s different game modes

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Although the core of Fortnite is its Battle Royale mode, it didn’t start that way. Fortnite is actually made up of three game modes, with Battle Royale introduced shortly after the release of PUBG. Building is at the core of all three game modes, but the gameplay changes wildly depending on which you choose.

  • Fortnite Battle Royale: Battle Royale is what most people associate with Fortnite. You play alongside 99 other players, each trying to be the last one standing. Battle Royale is available for solo players, teams of two, and squads of three or four.
  • Fortnite: Save the World: Save the World is the original Fortnite mode. In it, you can team up with three other players to complete missions. As you play through missions, you can earn in-game items and experience, which will help you build your home base.
  • Fortnite Creative: Creative is a sandbox version of Fortnite where players can use the game’s building tools to create whatever they want. Although the island you build on is private, you can invite friends to play unofficial games, including racing and platforming games. Certain features won’t be available in Creative thus far, including newer weapons, upgrade stations, and vehicles.

Why is Fortnite so popular?

Fortnite Chapter 2
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It’s tough to say for sure why Fortnite is so popular — or battle royale games in general, for that matter — but it’s likely because the game is free. With a free-to-play model, players can download Fortnite and get in on the action without spending any money. Furthermore, Fortnite is available on just about every platform imaginable, including mobile devices.

Additionally, Fortnite isn’t targeted at mature audiences. With a cartoonish style, the game appeals to gamers young and old, unlike the gritty, mature looks of PUBG and Apex Legends.

How does Fortnite make money?

Fortnite Love and War Event
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Fortnite makes money through microtransactions. The game itself is free, but players can purchase cosmetics for their character in the game. These purchases are handled with V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency. One U.S. dollar equals 100 V-Bucks, but you can get bonus V-Bucks by purchasing them in bulk. For example, 13,500 V-Bucks costs $99.99.

V-Bucks purchase cosmetics, which come in the form of new outfits, pickaxes, gliders, backpacks, and more. More importantly, you can purchase a Battle Pass with V-Bucks. Battle Passes rotate after each season of Fortnite, awarding the players who play the game the most.

Out of the gate, a Battle Pass comes with a swath of new characters, and as you play the game, you’ll be able to unlock new cosmetics for those characters. Furthermore, certain tiers of the Battle Pass award players with V-Bucks, allowing them to reinvest some of the cost into other in-game items.

Is Fortnite OK for kids?

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The ESRB has given Fortnite a “T” rating for violence. According to the ESRB, this rating means the game is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. Titles in this ratings bracket usually come with occasional strong language, little to no blood, violence, and/or crude humor. In Fortnite’s case, the game is rated “T” simply for violence, which, defined by the ESRB, means there are “scenes involving aggressive conflict” that “may contain bloodless dismemberment.”

In short, Fortnite is generally okay for kids, though it’s really a matter of your tolerance for violence. The game itself is very much like a cartoon in its aesthetic, so the violence doesn’t resemble anything in the real world. That said, guns are at the core of the game, so that’s something to be aware of.

More so than violence, online interactions should be a greater concern for parents. As is the case with all online games, the interactions when playing multiplayer are not rated by the ESRB. Bullying, cheating, inappropriate content, and intolerance are all against Fortnite’s community rules, though it’s possible to run into someone performing one of these actions before they’re banned.

Fortnite seasons

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Fortnite has regular seasons that add new items to the game, update maps, and create new themes with special costumes and items to help keep things interesting. Seasonal changes can be substantial, but a Battle Pass purchase is required to access all the latest content.

In Season 4, players can enjoy an avalanche of superhero items and costumes from both Marvel and DC heroes, plus new maps from famous comic book locations.

What platforms can you play Fortnite on?

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Fortnite has become so popular and widespread that you can play it on almost every common platform. Users can select gameplay from computer systems, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and even Android. The only downside to these options is that some limit your access to content and features.
While you can play in both Creative and Battle Royale mode on every platform, you can only play Save the World game mode on PC, MacOS, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

What’s the deal with Fortnite, Apple, and Google devices?

Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite

In late summer of 2020, Fortnite creator Epic Games and Apple entered into a titanic battle royale of their own, which had grave consequences for everyone playing Fortnite on Apple devices — and, to a lesser extent, Google devices, too. Here’s what you should know.

The controversy began when Epic Games released a method to directly purchase in-game currency through a native payment system, which meant that players did not need to use the payment system iOS or Android devices have. The problem is that Apple and Google both skim fees off the top for every payment made through their systems: Apple, for example, collects its own 30% every time a gamer buys V-Bucks on an Apple platform. In bypassing that model, Epic Games threatened this revenue stream and defied App Store guidelines.

Apple was the first platform that acted against Fortnite, blocking it from the App Store and freezing all game support. Not much later, Google also blocked the game. Epic Games was ready and waiting, immediately launching two lawsuits against the companies (as well as an ad campaign with the #FreeFortnite hashtag) and claiming their app stores functioned like monopolies.

In retaliation, Apple banned all Epic Games titles from their App Store and prohibited users from downloading the games onto any Apple hardware, regardless of how you attained the game. Unfortunately, this restriction will stay in place while the companies battle it out in court. Things are complicated right now, but if you’re feeling lost, here’s our take on the proceedings’ current chapter.

Bottom Line: If you already had Fortnite installed on your Apple device, you can still play the basic version. However, you’re limited to the basics, with no way of accessing new seasons, cross-play, Battle Passes, or even multiplayer modes. These are the best parts of the game, so you might not have as much fun as you usually do while playing Fortnite. Once you delete the game from your Apple device, it’s gone for good because they’ve blocked any possibility of reinstallation.

On the Google front, things aren’t quite as bleak. Fortnite still isn’t available on the Google Play Store, but it’s available from the Epic Games Store directly or the Samsung Galaxy Store. You’re able to access all of the play options by downloading new versions, but you might want to do it as soon as you can, in case the game also gets taken off of this platform.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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