I was four years late to 'Fortnite,' and I love it with zero regrets

The sight of Venom on the saxophone made me want to vomit. I'm getting ahead of myself.

I knew what the game was before the run-in with Venom. Even if my job didn't keep me focused on the video game industry, the four years since the launch of the game have been impossible to ignore.

Few video games have achieved the level of mainstream success and attention that is achieved by Fortnite. The battle Royale mode, which sees 100 players fighting with found weapons to survive in an always shrinking warzone, isn't even an original creation. It was a late addition to the game. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, also known as PUBG, was the unexpected success of battle Royale mode, which was delivered to Fortnite.

I didn't mind the choice to add a popular thing to the game. I spent some time with the game and it wasn't my thing. I'm picky with competitive games. The "Save the World" cooperative mode in "Fortnite" didn't stick, but I did spend some time with it. I was happy for the success of Epic, but I was also happy to see this creation.

Over time, it became harder to ignore. In its first year, the battle Royale introduced in-game events that gave players a season-ending spectacle to absorb as a setup for changed play dynamics in the next season. Creative Mode was introduced at the end of the year and gives players the freedom to explore their imaginations.

The sight of Venom on the saxophone made me want to vomit.

The first live concerts in the game came a few months later when DJ Marshmello and an electronic dance music producer staged a 10-minute concert. Other well-known performers have brought even more complex experiences to the mix. The time when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released, a clip from it was shown to a crowd in-game, but brands got involved too, and that is more cool than cringe.

I'm giving you all the history so that you can make a point, that I was aware of these things as they happened and I wrote about them. I never invested in the game. I respect anyone who makes video games. It's not the same as committing to one game or another as a hobby. I thought that it did some really cool stuff. But battle royale. Not really my thing.

Venom happened. I've found that the community I've found online with a group of friends connected to the server has been an unexpected source of support during the Pandemic. It's not uncommon for someone to broadcast whatever they're playing while we hang out in a voice channel in our Discord.

It was October night and I was in the middle of a stream when I heard a group queueing up for a match. The lobby screen in the game is a simple affair, with a set of menu options at the top of the screen and most of the rest occupied by the one, two, three, or four members of the squad as they wait for the game to start. You can see what everyone's wearing, and you can also hear when they use an emote.

I have known for a while that brands exist in the game, but I never realized how big of a part of the game they are. Every day, the item shop updates with new options. At this point in the year, there are a variety of different and wildly popular intellectual properties covered by the skin drops. You don't enjoy any advantage when you slap on a skin, but you still look like a cartoonish take on a popular character.

It's possible that Tweet has been deleted.

Adding in the emotes makes the going even weirder. The best of the emotes are often set to pop music. It's quite another thing to watch a group do their thing. It's a whole other thing to load up the game and then you're standing next to God of War's Kratos in a virtual world as he dances along to the hit.

I only found out about this when I joined the voice chat. There were two Venoms staring at me from the lobby screen. One of them was wearing a black Superman cape from the Snyder Cut and the other was wearing a Spider-Man-esque Venom outfit and an uncannily accurate virtual recreation of Eddie Brock.

I remember thinking, "WOW." "You can be a popular character in the game?" That's pretty cool! I was innocent. Venom started playing an entire saxophone after all of a sudden.

It took me a while to process what I was seeing. The Venom hype was already running high on the internet, with the release of Let There Be Carnage bearing down on us all. The presence of the anti-hero got me. He was dancing and wailing on the sax.

The unpredictability of what can happen when you play a game that's built around interdependent systems is a high-minded concept in video games. The post 3D era of Grand Theft Auto games is the main inspiration for this idea.

The missions and the story are part of the experience in your typical game. The potential for chaos is the real appeal for most people. The unexpected stuff that happens just in the natural course of you, a player-controlled avatar, is built to respond to the stimuli of the world.

There is a similar kind of energy in the game. The people you meet in-game are mostly other player-controlled characters. The amount of stuff that's been loaded into this thing over time, and which continues to cycle through at a regular clip, means you never know what you're going to see when you step into a match.

I remember thinking, "WOW." "You can just be a popular character in 'Fortnite'?"

Battle Royale games are inherently novel because of the map's randomness. unpredictability means players have to think about the best tactical approach in any given moment, and you never know where the next safe zone will be. The battlefield is never the same as the character and feel of the match changes.

There are unique and frequently shifting rules in the game. The crafting features from "Save the World" allow players to throw up walls, stairs, and floors in a matter of seconds to get to certain locations. The current season's B.R.U.T.E. and the seasonal events like "Infinity Gauntlet" inject even more unpredictability into the proceedings.

I don't think that the most powerful chaos agent in the game is something that would typically fuel other games. I'm talking about the reverence it has for non-Fortnite brands. Over the years, players have unlocked and purchased all of the pop culture related items in video games and movies. Dropping into any given match means you'd be facing off against other teams of generic characters.

The current season's cartoon Toona Fish has a cool skin from Epic. It's so weird to suddenly find yourself going head-to-head against a team that includes Harley Quinn, and a bunch of other people. In a firefight, you might see a man carrying a downed weapon to safety.

This is a marketing system. Most of the branded cosmetics are sold in the item shop. It would be an original spin on the battle Royale genre without all the tie-ins, but it wouldn't have the same flavor as if Kratos and Master Chief were fighting on the same squad. It's a possibility space that is unique to the game, and it's very addictive when the chaos hits.

"Fortnite" is plugged into what's happening in the moment. Ahead of the movie's October 2021 release, "Dune" cosmetics appeared in the game. Credit: Unreal Games.

The same week I saw Venom play his saxophone, I re-installed the game and went to battle Royale with the boys. The next night was when that night began. And then a next one. It's a staple of my weekly gaming diet.

I fell in love with the world and scenarios of the game very quickly and now adore it. I don't feel like I'm coming to any of this late. Regardless of when you find it, a great game is great. It helps that the experience of playing the game is still very important and will likely stay that way. It's different from what I've seen with other live games.

To cite a game that I've loved enough to spend more than 2,000 hours playing, bases much of its appeal on the fact that it's still popular. The loot you pick up has a tangible value that is locked to a piece of kit or another. If you don't play for those weeks or months when those things are offered, you lose the chance to get the loot.

That approach isn't inherently bad or wrong, but it's fueled what I've come to realize is an unhealthy relationship with the game. I don't play as much as I used to because I'm tired of feeling resentful about missed opportunities and the potential for missed opportunities. When a group of friends gather, I still love playing it, but I'm drifting away because of how invested I am in it.

That hasn't been a problem in the game because the stuff you get doesn't matter in terms of winning and losing. It's all done to look good. The way the in-game store works, many of the cool cosmetics are only ever a daily store refresh away from coming up again.

Since I started writing this, I have been able to buy a skin and pack. I made magic out of that combination.

It's possible that Tweet has been deleted.

I'm in. Completely in. I'm a fan of the game. I like the chaos. I like not having to worry about missing something. It will be documented on social media for me to watch at some point, and I won't be less capable when I'm playing the game. I love Venom, dancing and wailing on the sax, and everything that is utterly weird.