June 14, 2021

Xbox One X

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Fortnite’s on its way to being the world’s biggest game, and here’s what makes it special

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Fortnite, like PUBG, is a game of a million different stories, but if you leap from the sky and aim straight for the house on Loot Lake you’re often going to see one story in particular.

Loot Lake is situated near the centre of the Fortnite map, which means that the floating bus that crosses over the island as it deposits players always has a decent chance of coming near it. When it does, I find it an irresistible spot to head for: a lovely sagging mansion built of wood and slate, perched on a little mountain of mud and stone in the middle of still water. It conjures so many nice housey words, this place: gables, flagstones, manse. In truth, I would quite like to live here.

But others find it irresistible too, and hence we have the Groundhog Day scenario that the house on Loot Lake is caught within. I parachute in, and as I near the ground, I see someone else has had the same idea. This almost always happens. And what almost always happens next is a sort of polite agreement that takes place wordlessly in mid-air. The person closest to the house gets to pick the landing spot, and common sense dictates there are really only two spots to consider here anyway. So somebody gets the house and somebody else gets the roof and the snug attic below, which can be relied upon to contain a treasure chest. Digging down from the attic is dangerous – even dropping down into the garden has its hazards. Digging up into the attic is generally suicide. Voila! The person who gets the house has to live in proximity with the person who gets the attic, as virtual architecture combines with a few basic game mechanics to conjure the reliable psychodrama of a good ghost story. And so Fortnite imprints itself a little deeper, each time, upon my heart and my mind.

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