Quiet! Don’t move. Someone is coming. They’re headed right toward you. They don’t see you.
You pull your shotgun. You fire a shot. But wait, you missed!
Now you’re exposed.
But don’t worry; it’s only a game.
What game, you ask?
What kind of question was that? The format? Battle Royale, 100-player pvp.
For those of you who haven’t heard, “Fortnite” is the game that’s taking the nation by storm, no pun intended.
This third-person shooter game may remind you a bit of the “Hunger Games” as it pits 100 players against each other on a large island, with just one condition: There can only be one winner.
Players begin each match with nothing and must skydive onto the island. They gather materials to build forts. They search for bandages and potions to patch themselves up when wounded. And perhaps most importantly, they search for weapons to protect themselves and eliminate the competition, all in the name of victory.
“’Fortnite’ has become a lifestyle,” said Castleton junior and “Fortnite” enthusiast Grant Cummings. “I look forward to playing all day. I’m not surprised at all that it has become so popular. Battle royale-type games are the big thing right now and ‘Fortnite’ is one that sets itself apart from the rest.”
Not since the days of “Call of Duty’s” peak has the nation been so engrossed in a video game.
“It may be the most addicting game ever created,” Castleton junior Josh Steele said.
For the past several months, as the game’s popularity has skyrocketed, Instagram accounts like Worldstar (15.3 million followers), Barstool Sports (4.1 million followers) and “Fortnite’s” official page (3 million followers) have posted countless memes, highlights and reaction videos of players winning.
In the most recent poll, “Fortnite” is said to have over 45 million players worldwide, and those who are playing, can’t get enough. Just ask some of the players who participated in this past NCAA March Madness tournament. Several student athletes dished on their fascination with “Fortnite” in an Associated Press article in early March.
“It’s the best game out right now,” Kansas guard Marcus Garrett said. “Everybody is doing it, and once you start, it’s hard to stop. Once you turn it on and you’re sitting in front of your bed, you’ll probably be there for five hours, just sitting there.”
“Whenever we’ve got the free time, we’re definitely on it,” Villanova forward Jermaine Samuels said. “I like the competition, and just trying to outlast people. That exciting feeling of paranoia, not knowing where the next kill is coming from, not knowing when someone else is coming. It’s just a constant grind, and if you die, you can come right back into it. That’s what we love about the game.”
Even celebrities are joining in on the fun. Rappers Drake, Travis Scott and Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster recently teamed up with popular Twitch streamer and Internet personality, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, to stream their game live on “Twitch.” The stream shattered all previous streaming records for Twitch with over 600,000 people tuning in to watch them play. In fact, in the past few months Blevins accumulated 1.8 million followers on Instagram, over 5 million subscribers on Youtube and 3.7 million followers on Twitch and reportedly makes over $500,000 per month solely for streaming himself playing “Fortnite” on Twitch.
But Blevins isn’t the only player making money for playing Fortnite.
“I’ve earned $200 dollars playing in two ‘Fortnite’ tournaments,” said Connecticut resident Russell Morales. “If you’re good enough you can win money by entering tournaments through sites like ‘Game Battles.’ I have 263 total wins (solo, duos, squads combined). I’m not currently paid by Twitch, but the goal is to grow my base through my clips on Instagram and Twitter. Twitch will eventually pay you if you have a big enough following. You can offer followers a premium subscription to you, which allows them to view with no ads and have more interaction with the player than the normal viewer.”
But there is a reason so few people are paid to play. Videos of people like Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin or rapper Lil Yatchy winning matches have gone viral because winning, for the average player, is no ordinary feat.
To put this into perspective, let’s return to the hypothetical scenario presented at the beginning of the story.
You are hidden in a bush, yet your heart is pounding. The icon in the top right corner of the screen indicates that you are one of just two people left alive. The enemy ran right by you. You sprung out of your bush and fired a shot at them with your tactical shotgun. But since you missed, now the enemy knows where you are. Now, both of you are jumping around like Mexican jumping beans in a fight to eliminate one another. Luckily you are ready to fire again by the time the enemy pulls his shotgun. This time, it’s a direct hit. You did it. You won.
The words “#1 Victory Royale” flash across the screen and everybody and their mother within a two-block radius is losing their minds.
In the scenario above, you were playing solo mode, in which the goal is to be the last one alive out of 100. You began with, literally, a one-percent chance of winning, so great job, I’m proud of you. But what if things had been different?
“Fortnite” is much more than just a fun way to spend your time. It is also a game that heavily involves strategical analysis, critical thinking and key decision-making.
For instance, let’s say at some point in the hypothetical match above you decided you would rather take a pump-action shotgun instead of the tactical shotgun, sacrificing fire rate for power.
Since you missed that first shot, before you had the chance to fire another, the enemy turned around and mowed you down. You finished second and your heart is broken. The truth is, decision-making skills are so essential in this game, that one wrong choice can seal your fate.
But the odds aren’t always stacked so high against you. Players can choose from several different formats. They can increase their chances of winning by teaming up with friends in squad mode (teams of four) or duo mode (teams of two). But, with a map so massive that it would take you seven minutes of nothing but running in a straight line to get from one end to another, what guarantee is there that you will even stumble upon another person?
There are about 18 marked locations, and countless unmarked ones where players have the option to land, but only the bravest go to Tilted Towers, the location holding the most loot, but also the most attention. It is estimated that about 30 percent of players land there every match. So, to be fair, a lot of gamers frequent the same spots. But what is to stop those players from setting up shop after they’ve established dominance in a given area?
Well, the game implements a storm that, if caught in, will significantly deteriorate your health. The storm constantly shrinks, becoming increasingly deadly as time progresses in order to force players into the eye until eventually; the safe zone is so small that combat is inevitable. Survive long enough and eventually the entire island will be engulfed. So, theoretically you could win with several eliminations or you could win with none and let the storm do your dirty work.
That is what makes this game so great.
Every victory is unique. No two are the same. Victories are so uncommon for the average player that every one feels like a triumph.
“I’ve played over 600 solo games and have only won eight times,” said Castleton senior and avid “Fortnite” player Shane Hurley. “It’s definitely tough, but when you win, it’s a better feeling than sex.”
Yet, some claim the real joy comes from being able to team up with your buddies.
“Playing solo is fun enough on it’s own, but being able to squad up with your bros and overpowering other squads is where the fun really lies,” Steele said. “It can be a strong bonding experience.”
Although high praise is associated with the gameplay, perhaps the best part about this game is that it’s completely free.
The game comes with an attached story mode that gamers have the option to buy at the price of a standard game. However, the insanely popular Battle Royale version, released in July of 2017, costs nothing to download. Zip. Zero. You don’t even need an Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus subscription to play with your friends, something of a rarity for a game as trendy as this.
The game does, however, offer it’s own virtual currency in the form of “V-bucks.” Players can purchase V-bucks to buy things to enhance their experience such as different costumes and emotes for their character.
“I still can’t believe it’s free. It seems way too popular for it to be free, but I guess it makes sense that they’d make most of their money selling the V-Bucks. I personally have probably spent at least $15 on V-bucks just to customize my character,” Castleton junior Jared Antoniak said with a laugh.
Most, however, choose to spend their V-bucks on the battle pass.
“The battle pass is a must-buy for the game that’s already free to download. It makes the game much more exciting because it gives you different objectives and the possibility to earn more characters and emotes. It really keeps the game fresh,” Steele said.
But not everybody is enjoying “Fortnite.”
Girlfriends everywhere are outraged.
“I’ve threatened to break up with my boyfriend several times because of it,” said Kenya Claude, a sophomore at Gateway Community College, and friend of several Castleton students. “He’ll invite me over to hangout and then play that stupid game the whole time. I really don’t get what is so great about it. He’s not allowed to play when we hangout anymore.”