"Fortnite: Battle Royale" is gaining popularity that extends far outside the gaming community, and RIT is no stranger to the phenomenon.

“The game is free to play, so it allows people, young and old, to just jump in regardless of how much money they make or anything like that,” explained Travis Dombroski, a second year Applied Mathematics major, coach to RIT Esport’s Overwatch team and "Fortnite" enthusiast.

“[Fortnite] is free to play, so it allows people, young and old, to just jump in."

 According to Dombroski, the extended audience has contributed its popularity.

What’s "Fortnite"?

Originally released July 2017, "Fortnite: Battle Royale" is a game that involves descending from a plane, gathering items, building, shooting and survival.

“It’s called battle royale. This genre of video games is really big right now,” Dombroski said. “You jump in against 99 other players and try your best to be the number one person alive. It’s really catching on right now.”

Handling such a high volume of players is made possible by continuing advancements in the game industry.

"Fortnite" is developed on Unreal Engine, both created by Epic Games. Game engines form the core of any game and are used to render images, calculate physics and provide a platform for all other elements of a game. Engines can be used as a platform for many different games, and developers are always trying to improve engines to improve the games.

“A lot of the improvements coming to [Unreal] Engine are cutting-edge,” said Matt Lienhard, a third year Game Design and Development major. 

The game is appealing for more than just its mechanics, though. The graphics of the game are vibrant, colorful and less serious than typical games, according to Dombroski.

“The art style of the game is something that appeals to a lot of people," Dombroski said. "A lot of parents are okay with it. There’s nothing brutal or anything.”

Instead of piles of bodies and realistic blood, dead players simply disappear and their loot is free to take where their body was. Dombroski sites the PG gameplay as a reason the game is appealing to a wider range of players.

Victory Royale for EPIC

In order to set new streaming records, hold a high daily viewership and gain the public's attention, Epic Games had to take a non-typical approach.

“The developers of the game listen a lot to the community," Dombroski said. "They do well with finding bugs and fixing them and do a really good job of continuously pushing out new content and cosmetics."

“The developers of the game listen a lot to the community."

“The ideas of the developers and the ideas of the community are usually in line," Dombroski said. "I just think the community having more time with the game has given the developers time to change what they think is necessary.”

Dombroski explained that the game is still in early access. This means that the game is constantly being updated by the developers until they have a final version. The game should remain free when it is officially released.

Having a free-to-play game has been an integral part of Epic’s winning formula. In addition, "Fortnite" is available to play on all popular gaming platforms, as well as on smart phones.

“They do a lot of cross-platform playing, where you could be playing on your computer with someone who’s playing on their phone, or Xbox or PlayStation,” Dombroski said.

This is new to gaming and contrasts the past where players could only play with their friends if they had the same system.

Dombroski stressed how "Fortnite" hasn’t created a pay-to-win platform, which is a huge controversy right now between developers and players. Other gaming companies have offered microtransactions in their games.

“[Microtransactions] allow users to buy their way to an item instead of working towards it,” Dombroski explained.

“The currency in 'Fortnite' is called V-Bucks, which is a way of buying cosmetics. It says in the store at the bottom all items are completely cosmetic and give no competitive advantage. That’s part of the reason it’s not considered malicious,” Dombroski stated.

This gives Epic a means to make a profit while still giving each player a fair shot to win every match.

The Social Aspect

“When I think of 'Fortnite,' I kind of relate it back to the days of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II," of the social aspect of it,” Lienhard said.


“It’s one of the emerging games that has fun gameplay, but I think the appeal for a lot of people ... is playing it with friends and getting in on that experience that everyone can share,” Lienhard added.

"Fortnite" has duo and squad modes in addition to solo runs. This makes it a great game for people who enjoy playing together competitively and cooperatively.

“It’s really easy for you and a couple of friends to just jump in and start playing, there’s really nothing holding you back,” Dombroski said, citing the ease of access.

“It’s really easy ... to just jump in and start playing, there’s really nothing holding you back.”

“People are paying attention to 'Fortnite' more than any other battle royale game right now,” Dombroski added.

Epic’s success can be attributed to many things, such as the usability, PG content and attention to player’s opinions. It’s clear that this game could become a stable stage for competition in the gaming community.

"Fortnite" appears to be a robust game that will remain popular, instead of being just a passing phase. According to Dombroski, RIT Esports would be interested in "Fortnite" competitions if they became available.

“I don’t think it will be a passing trend,” Dombroski said.