A few years back, in a bid to explain Fortnite’s unexplainable world, Epic Games came up with the term “Snapshot” to describe, in-universe, why its battle royale matches can feature multiple people playing as the same Fortnite character, or why seemingly singular characters available in Fortnite – like Peely the banana, or The Rock, or Wolverine – can reappear under different guises.
What is a Snapshot? Why is it a Snapshot? Dear reader, these are questions for another time. But the general term, at least, has stuck with me as I try to sum up what Fortnite was, and is, and will be. If you’d asked me five years ago today, I’d say it was a distinctly average PVE base building shooter – and the first time Eurogamer ever really covered Fortnite in detail was a preview of this now long-sidelined mode.
If you’d asked me four years ago, as Fortnite’s quickly-thrown-together battle royale was blowing up and footballers were doing its dances in World Cup matches, I’d say it was probably The Next Big Thing. Three years ago? Fortnite was established as a phenomenon, an industry-leading showcase of engine mastery and live service development that could pull off in-game stunts like no other. Want to blow up bits of the map in real-time with a giant volcano? No problem. Stage a giant monster versus mech fight and invite everyone in to see it live? You got it.