Fortnite is described as a co-op sandbox survival game and is about exploration, scavenging items, crafting weapons, building fortified structures, and fighting waves of encroaching monsters. Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder, described the game as “Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead”.
In up to teams of four, players must survive and defend one or more control points from waves of zombie-like creatures. Missions have accelerated day-and-night cycles and may cover a period of up to fourteen days. During the day, there are no creatures, allowing players to explore the randomly-generated map, save survivors, collect resources, and use these resources to craft weapons and armor for use in combat or build defenses to protect themselves and the control point. These defenses include walls, floors, staircases, and ceilings to create fort-like structures, and traps that will trigger when creatures pass over them. Players have the option to use different building materials with different strength values, and to customize some structures for specific features, such as adding a door or a window. When night arrives, creatures will spawn in waves and attempt to attack the control point and any structure in its way. Players can use a variety of weapons to fend off the creatures and repair damage to their fort structure. Missions typically have several objectives, some of which require the players to locate special goo balls around the map and bring them to an objective to end the mission or trigger the next part of it. Players may also complete optional objectives within these missions, such as finishing the mission in a limited number of in-game days or with a limited number of defensive structures. If these objectives are met, the players are given additional rewards at the end of the mission.
In Fortnite’s metagame, players gain rewards such as new playable characters, support characters, blueprints for new weapons, armor, and items, skill points to improve a playable character, loot crates in the form of pinatas, and in-game currency. Each playable character belongs to one of four classes that have specific unique abilities, but each can be advanced through their own skill tree and can gain experience levels to increase their fundamental attributes. Support characters can be assigned to help boost resource collection, construction, or attack and defensive power.
In addition to the main co-operative mode, a player versus player mode will also be featured, which will accommodate up to ten different players. A battle royale PvP mode will also be included in the main game for up to 100 players. Epic announced that they will release a standalone version of Fortnite Battle Royale as a free-to-play title for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 26, 2017. This version will include microtransactions to acquire cosmetic items but which do not impact a player’s attributes.