I Want A Fortnite History Book

Fortnite’s history is fascinating, but we need it collected in one place.

I Want A Fortnite History Book

When I first started writing about games, Fortnite was the biggest game in the world. It still is. But as a freelancer, I felt like I should be paying attention to it in a way I don't need to now. When you’re trying to convince as many media outlets as possible to pay you to write about games, knowledge is power. And knowledge about the biggest game in the world especially comes in handy.

Though I enjoy playing Fortnite, I’ve always been much more interested in the way it evolves and changes over time than by the actual process of dropping on the island. That evolution has made it not only popular, but genuinely important to understand, on some level, if you care about the medium. If you're interested in where games are going, Fortnite is doing about a dozen things that will shape the way they're made and played going forward. But keeping track of those things can be difficult because the game is the Ship of Theseus, built and rebuilt a dozen times in the past six years. So are all live games that last this long.

That's why we need the definitive Fortnite history book. The game, by its nature, is ephemeral. Epic builds something cool, it lasts for a season, then it blows it up, and the only evidence is old YouTube videos and archived Twitch streams. That's the nature of games as a service. If you want to get into Destiny 2 right now, you literally can't play the game that first shipped with that name. I don't just mean that it's changed and improved since 2017; I mean that like Disney stashing its old movies away, Bungie has "vaulted" the original campaign. You can only access that story in-game now as a series of cutscenes and documents. Even games like World of Warcraft, which keep all the expansions accessible, change so much over time with graphical overhauls and mechanical reworks that you can't play the original game… unless, that is, the developer spins it off as its own mode like Blizzard did.

All of this makes it difficult to study a game like Fortnite, to learn about the things it did that felt game-changing and the mistakes Epic made along the way. It's easy to recount the unlikely beginnings, as the original Save The World mode launched to shrugs, later copied PUBG's homework, beat it to consoles, and soared to stratospheric success. And it's easy enough to understand what's happening right now & load the game up and play a few rounds in each of its various modes and you'll get a decent sense of its current state.

It's all the stuff in between that's harder to summarize, even though I found much of it incredibly cool as it was happening. Remember how Epic removed objects from the game and then they started appearing in real-world locations? Remember how a crucial bit of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's story was revealed, not in the movie, but through an in-game event hosted by Geoff Keighley? Remember how everyone watched a black hole for hours on end when Epic briefly took the game down before the start of its second chapter?

I remember this stuff because this is my job, but how would you know if you weren't there when it happened? These moments live on in old articles and videos, but how would you even search for it if you didn't know where to look? There have been plenty of books on Fortnite, and Epic even has a series that sounds like what I'm describing, called FORTNITE: The Chronicle, which it started publishing in 2019. There are a few problems, though. Each of these books is only 72 pages long and they're aimed at children. I'm talking about a big, comprehensive book; the kind you feel like you should really be referring to as a "tome." Thoroughly researched, exhaustive, and maybe even a thousand pages long. This is an era-defining video game that needs to be understood more as a series of events than as a combination of systems. Someone should write it. Not me. But someone should.

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