It is onerous to overstate how unusual Fortnite is. Whereas ready for the sport’s Ariana Grande digital live performance that weekend, three equivalent variations of Rick from Rick and Morty surrounded me and began dancing. Later I handed two marshmello lounging in equivalent yellow bean baggage. For the primary present I went to, I dressed up as Travis Scott; I later wore a Toronto Raptors jersey and had a dancing Child Groot strapped on my again.
Fortnite’s crash commercialism, the place seemingly each fictional world collides with real-life celebrities in a battle royale sport, can positively be daunting at instances. But it surely additionally results in extraordinarily cool moments, particularly with regards to stay occasions. And the Ariana Grande live performance wasn’t simply one other exhilarating stay music expertise – it constructed on Fortnite’s historical past in fascinating methods.
For a sport that includes falling on a colourful island to kill folks, Fortnite has a surprisingly lengthy historical past, largely on account of the truth that developer Epic is continually experimenting. Gamers who’ve stayed round for some time will keep in mind necessary, game-defining moments, resembling when a mysterious dice rolled across the island or a rocket launched and shattered the sky, or when a black gap produced a very new map. These moments may even make all the cumbersome licensed features of the sport really feel surprisingly pure, like when the island was inundated with iconic Marvel areas.
The Ariana Grande Tour felt just like the fruits of such a built-in storytelling. Whereas earlier concert events like Marshmello and Travis Scott have been once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the Grande occasion was tied to a number of features of Fortnite. Proper now the sport is in the midst of an alien invasion. There are new sci-fi weapons to play with, alien craft to suck up gamers, and an imposing mothership that hovers over the island. Earlier than the gamers even knew there was a live performance occurring, considered one of these saucers parked simply above the middle of the map and projected a holographic countdown clock teasing one thing huge on August sixth.
When issues began, the occasion was totally different from earlier Fortnite concert events in that it was about extra than simply music. Earlier than Ariana Grande even confirmed up, gamers have been taken by a portal the place they obtained a glimpse of a few of these huge occasions within the sport just like the erupting volcano. What adopted was a sequence of mini-game-style experiences: gamers slipped down a paint-covered slide, hopped straight out of The Lorax by a fluffy world, and steered a airplane to the previous Fortnite raid boss, the Storm King defeat.
Finally, a towering grande appeared in a star-lit black room, main gamers by a particularly surreal world. There have been big floating bubbles within the sky, a journey on a glittering llama, a citadel within the model of MC Escher and at last the pop star emerged from a crack within the floor to smash all of her followers with a jeweled hammer.
It was a lot enjoyable. However extra importantly, it felt intrinsically like Fortnite. From the best way the tour was introduced, to its connections with aliens and iconic Fortnite moments and pictures, it was simply one other a part of the sport’s ever-growing fable. Solely this time with a pop star. Grande even appeared like a Fortnite character, with brilliant white eyes and a gown made from shimmering damaged glass. (You possibly can in fact purchase a pores and skin so you’ll be able to play it in-game.) Now that the tour is over, there are nonetheless quite a lot of in-game quests for gamers to rummage by.
Earlier this 12 months, Donald Mustard, Epic’s chief artistic officer, described Fortnite as “an opportunity to create almost a new medium.” He felt that the sport and its scope supply a possibility to inform tales in new methods; Fortnite would not have a standard storyline or characters, however as an alternative makes use of stay occasions and its ever-changing world as instruments to create a long-term narrative. Persistently virtually each side of the sport has been introduced into this storytelling focus, even the quite a few licensed connections. In Fortnite, there may be little distinction between Galactus’ assault on the island and the looks of Ariana Grande. On this sport, a live performance is now not only a live performance: it’s a custom.