Last night I reached Level 100 in my third consecutive Fortnite battle pass. I didn’t achieve this by deliberately grinding or making time to work my way through Tilted Towers, I just played for fun whenever it caught my eye. So many live-service games expect you to make their day-to-day presence part of your personality, but somehow Epic Games has reached a cadence where even casual players like me can find fulfillment each season without risking to burn. It’s generous, satisfying and has ruined all other battle royales for me.
I first understood this when I jumped into Warzone 2 last weekend and realized that doing absolutely everything in that game forever. Maybe I’m just not used to the formula after being away for so long, but even competing in competitions is a procession of loading screens, lobbies, unskippable cutscenes, and a landing and looting phase that’s way too long considering the minimum time to kill. You can spend ages with your gear and be wiped out in seconds, and then another cutscene and a period of waiting play out once you’re in the Gulag. If you don’t run the gauntlet, you will return to the main menu. Maybe it’s just not for me, or the Fortnite giant has taken over more of my being than I ever expected.
I return to Apex Legends every season if only to see the new heroes in action and see exactly how the maps and mechanics have evolved. But the squad I once ran with has long since left, and I’m not one to play solo in a game where team comp is vital, so I left it and dread how much I have to catch up. PUBG was my first introduction to the genre like so many others, and it remains fantastic, but the ubiquitous fear of digging through abandoned houses for loot hoping a stranger won’t blast me to pieces with a shotgun has been replaced by crazy crossovers and an intense focus on mobile play that I just don’t care for. So many games in this genre have gone further or tried to overcomplicate themselves to stand out from the crowd, and Fortnite is the only one to strike that balance effectively. Or I’m just such a sucker for John Cena.
Aside from my embarrassingly large skin collection, I think its appeal mostly comes down to progression and how often it feels like I’m being rewarded for my time. Free-to-play titles are designed so that you can eventually spend money, slowing the initial pace of rewards to a crawl as your immersion rises, convincing you that now is finally the time to open your wallet and fully engage. put for the ecosystem. It’s entirely possible to keep playing for free, but you don’t get nearly as many goodies and the game treats you like an inferior creature as a result. It’s much easier to spend £8 or join the Fortnite crew to jump on board the battle pass and earn the good stuff. You get your money back by completing the whole thing, and no one ever uses the crappy emotes and icons, it’s all about the cool skins and harvesting tools hidden in the premium tier. Come on, come with me to the dark side.
Since the release of Chapter 2 – the date I refuse to look up because it makes me feel old – Fortnite has been unparalleled when it comes to player satisfaction. Everything you do results in mountains of experience points. Just opening chests, collecting ammo and surviving your opponents will build your level, while taking the initiative to kill in certain ways or explore specific locations will progress missions that also add to a wider mix of character arcs and seasonal stories. It’s genius, and I still find it hard to believe how many tapping parts make up the whole package without it all falling apart. It’s a tonal nightmare filled with an unimaginable mix of characters and influences, but the core idea of Fortnite comes through throughout. You don’t have to understand what’s happening, and it’s so damn fun it hardly matters anyway. Epic Games has somehow turned the obscene sums it spent on licenses into a semi-compelling yarn – Lady Gaga could be a primary antagonist and unlockable skin in the next season and I wouldn’t bat an eye .
That’s exactly what Fortnite does, and chances are she’ll be flanked by Mr Beast and Ed Miliband as the trio prepare to take on the world. By comparison, I’m not sure any other battle royale out there could ever replicate its unparalleled mix of mechanical density and abject surrealism. No one else has the money, talent, or platform to make it work, all because Fortnite has created a metaverse in recent years that puts all its rivals to shame. It sounds like I’ve been taken into a cult, but it’s a really cool cult, I promise.
Next up: God of War Ragnarok throws you into the open world way too soon