Fortnite Battle Royale – The Game the World is Playing

Fortnite Battle Royale

What is a Battle Royale Game?

Battle Royale Movie
Battle Royale Movie

The term “Battle Royale” was first popularized by the 2000 movie Battle Royale directed by the late Kinji Fukasaku. The movie was based on the book of the same name by Koushun Takami.  The film is based around a group of high school kids that are forced to fight each other to the death on an island that has been split up into a number of “death zones“. All the students are fitted with explosive collars to try and ensure that they fight each other. If a student disobeys this directive the collar is exploded and the student is killed.

In BR games there is a storm or circle of energy or some such entity that slowly forces the players together. This technically doesn’t happen in the movie but does bring us to the next talking point.

What makes a BR Game different from a Standard First or Third Person Shooter?

Come along as we will delve a little into the history of BR games.

Other than BR there are a few styles of First/Third Person Shooter games.

Death match style games like Unreal Tournament. Where the goal is to get as many kills on the other players in the game.

In a standard First Person shooter (FPS) there are usually 2 or more teams fighting each other. A good example of this is CS:GO. CS:GO is published by Valve Entertainment and is one the longest continuously running FPS games on the internet. In this type of shooter game one team will win if either of the following conditions occur:

    •  It kills the whole of the other team.
    • Completes an objective like planting a bomb or defusing a bomb.
Arma 3 Battle Royale
Arma 3 Battle Royale

Both Unreal tournament and CS:GO have long heritages that stretch back into the 90’s. However the history of BR games really only goes back to 2013 and the release of Arma 3. The team that developed ARMA 3 built it to be modifiable by the player base and modify it they did. the two biggest mods that came out of Arma 3 were Dayz which is a huge Zombie survivalist mod and the one we are interested in is “PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale”. PlayerUnknown ( AKA Brendan Greene) is now famous for role in the development of PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds).

Brendan Greene is a huge fan of the Battle Royale movie and decided that it would make a great mod for Arma 3 which he was playing heavily at the time. He admits to not being a great coder but he cobbled together the battle royale mod for Arma 3 and the game was an instant success. he went on to help with the development of H1Z1 which is another standalone third person Battle Royale game. In the mode a

So how did Fortnite become a Battle Royale Game?

Save the World
Save the World

Fortnite was never conceived as a battle royale game. Originally the only mode was called “Save the World”. In Save the World players have to cooperatively fight zombie-like creatures to achieve various missions across a number of different maps. In this mode “the Storm” from the BR mode actually caused the death of 98% of the world’s population.  players gain rewards by completing missions and their characters level up and improve.

Fortnite was never going to be a Battle Royale. It was actually conceived as cross between Left 4 Dead and Minecraft. The unique building element of the game was designed to be somewhat like Minecraft. Suffice is to say the mode is not very popular.

So how did Fortnite morph into a Battle Royale? Epic Games had what was reportedly a consultative role in the development of PUBG. PUBG is built on Epic’s Unreal Engine. PUBG was pushing the limits of what the Engine could do so Epic was consulted heavily in technical elements of the PUBg implementation. It was at about this time that Epic got the idea to add a Battle Royale version of Fortnite. Bluehole the developer of PUBG tried to sue Epic over infringement of intellectual property but that lawsuit was dropped around June 2018.

It has to be said that Fortnite adding a battle Royale element at about the same time as helping out with PUBG can’t be a coincidence. No intellectual property was stolen but you can’t help thinking the seed idea of Fortnite BR mode germinated at about this time. Epic might have got the idea from Bluehole but the Fortnite implementation of battle royale went on to dominate the gaming world.

Why are Battle Royale Games so Popular?

It has to be the gladiator effect. The gladiator effect is that feeling a player gets when they are the last person standing. Knowing that 20, 40 or even 100 people dropped into this game, after all the many battles that have taken you are the last person left alive at the end is one of the best feelings ever in gaming history.  

Another phenomenon has arisen at the same time as battle Royale games and that is Streaming. Twitch is the most popular live streaming service and twitch’s growth in traffic has developed  a definite spike since the introduction of the battle Royale formulae. Streamers like Ninja, Myth and Timthetatman almost exclusively stream Fortnite battle royale games. Streamers like Shroud stream other battle royale games almost exclusively. These streamers have millions of followers collectively. no other gaming genre comes close to matching these viewer numbers.

We can’t Finish without talking about the Storm

What is the storm in Fortnite? It is a ring around the playing area that reduces in size as the game progresses. It’s main job is to force players together to encourage fights and to finally leave on player standing. In the history of BR games the storm has had many variants. In pubg it is called simply the blue zone, this innocuous blue zone causes varying amounts of damage depending on how far the game has progressed. In H1Z1 it is called the gas. In Apex  it is usually only referred to as the circle. Whatever it is called in the battle Royale you are playing there is one thing they all have in common and that is the storm has the most kills. More than even the best player. Beware of the storm.