Over 45 million people are playing a bizarre shooter that pits 100 players against each other in a fight to the death — here’s what’s going on

In 2000, a bizarre and controversial film named “Battle Royale” was released. In the film, dozens of Japanese high-school students are placed on an island, given weapons, and ordered to kill one another until one person remains.

That person is crowned the winner. Their prize is survival.

Battle Royale

Its plot is similar to “The Hunger Games,” but “Battle Royale” is a far more brutal film. There is no prevailing heroine, no odds overcome. “Battle Royale” is a bleak, suspenseful, violent movie.

A breakout game named “Fortnite: Battle Royale” takes the concept of “Battle Royale” — a 1-versus-100 fight to the death — and puts it in a colorful, surreal world. Instead of gritty, it’s goofy. 

And — unbelievably — it succeeds. “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is a delight!

Fortnite: Battle Royale

“Fortnite: Battle Royale” is available on nearly everything, from PlayStation 4 to Xbox One to PC and Mac. Even better: It costs nothing. It’s no surprise that somewhere in the ballpark of 45 million people now own the game.

After just six months of availability, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is the most-watched game on Twitch, the world’s largest game-streaming platform. A whopping 3.4 million people were playing the game concurrently at one point in February.

So what gives? Why is this game blowing up? Here’s the deal!

“Fortnite: Battle Royale” takes something familiar — shooters — and twists it in a subtle way to make it fresh.

If you own a game console, chances are you’re familiar with shooters — be they first-person (like “Call of Duty”) or third-person (like “Gears of War”). “Fortnite: Battle Royale” falls into the latter category, with your character’s avatar taking up prominent screen space.

The goal, in the broadest sense, is simple: You have one life, and winning means survival. 

But living through the cartoon violence of “Fortnite” is difficult — there are a few dozen other players also trying to be the last person alive, and they’ve got weapons.

And like other “Battle Royale” shooters, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is based on a single, large island with an ever-shrinking habitable area. If you’re outside of that area, your health begins to drain until you’re dead — in this way, players are forced together rather than able to hide. 

In that sense, it’s important to aggressively go after the enemy. But also, watch your back!

There are major differences between “Fortnite: Battle Royale” and the game it’s inspired by, “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.”

The first thing you do in “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is jump out of a purple flying bus and parachute down to an island. The island is full of distinct regions, and it’s littered with resources: Guns, explosives, med packs, shields, and various materials (wood, brick, metal).

With nothing other than a pick-axe, you desperately need resources to survive. This is a nearly direct mirror of the experience in another popular, Battle Royale-style shooter: “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,”

But there are major differences right off the bat.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Rather than simply picking up weapons and healing kits, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” also has a construction element to it. Thus why you’re picking up materials — stuff like wood, brick, and metal. Alternatively, you can use your pick-axe to mine the materials yourself, like you would in “Minecraft” (as seen above).

The world is destructible, so with every swing of your pick-axe you’ll wear down whatever object you’re striking — whether it’s a tree or a brick wall.

There are loads of parallels between the two games, but “Fortnite: Battle Royale” is immediately distinguished by this crucial difference.

I was skeptical of “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” and it proved me wrong.

In 2017, when “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” was dominating the conversation and drawing millions of new players every day, the big question became, “Who is going to copy this format and do it bigger?”

Epic Games answered that question in September 2017 with “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” a free mode for its “Fortnite” game based on the concept of “PUBG.”

Better than just being free, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” was available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 months before “PUBG” could get there. Great for players, no doubt, but not a great look in terms of perception. Was Epic Games rushing out a copycat mode to beat out the competition? More awkwardly, the software that created “PUBG” is made by none other than Epic Games — the Unreal Engine. It looked like Epic Games might be undercutting its own client and copying the client’s idea.

There was even a press release from Bluehole Studio, the company behind “PUBG,” criticizing Epic Games. “We are concerned that ‘Fortnite’ may be replicating the experience for which ‘PUBG’ is known,” Bluehole vice president and executive producer Chang Han Kim said.

But actually playing the game demonstrates relatively quickly why “Fortnite” is doing something different.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider