Remember when Fortnite was all about building? Before its celebrity appearances, attention-grabbing live events, before you could play Battle Royale in Zero Build, before the game allowed users to configure an endless array of modes. Fortnite used to be a simpler game – you build a base and defend it from enemies. In some ways, today’s big launch of Lego Fortnite represents a return to those simpler times.
Where the original Fortnite Save The World mode was a tower defense title, Lego Fortnite – in its current iteration at least – borrows mostly from Minecraft. You can cut down trees and mine rocks to obtain Lego resources, which can be crafted into Lego pickaxes, swords, or Lego building blocks. Said pieces – sets of Lego bricks arranged in hallways, stairs, campfires or even entire buildings – can then be used to build your own settlements. Finally, over time, you can grow and level up these settlements to welcome a group of friendly characters, who can be tasked with some of the more menial jobs like farming and harvesting.
All of this takes place in a world that looks enough like Fortnite itself — the new Unreal Engine 5-powered iteration, not last month’s Fortnite OG — with Lego characters and monsters roaming around. UE5 means your constructions are as permanent (or destructible) as you make them – editable, customizable or blown up into tiny pieces in impressive style – individual Lego elements fall out in a remarkably believable way.
The world of Lego Fortnite can be explored in risk-free sandbox mode, or in survival mode where hostile creatures roam the map, or lurk in underground caves. You’ll need armor to stand up to the toughest of these elements and protect your own creations – at one point I saw a house I was building destroyed when a huge dinosaur creature lunged at me, the bricks inside flying in all directions.
Lego Fortnite is designed to support up to eight players adventuring together, splitting up resource collection across each Lego Fortnite world (the procedurally generated maps are 50 times larger than Fortnite’s famous battle royale island). When playing in survival mode, you’ll need to keep an eye on your health, stamina, and temperature – with different biomes more suitable for inhabitation than others. Whether you’re in Survival or Sandbox, you can choose to build using a gallery of Lego pieces, or place prefabricated structures like entire houses or farm buildings. (In a nice twist, animal resource acquisition is directed toward positive interactions with sheep, cows, and chickens, which happily secrete wool, milk, and eggs when interacted with.)
So far, mostly Minecraft. But, as Epic Games has been keen to stress, the Lego Fortnite experience – and overall collaboration – launching today is just the beginning. It’s perhaps not surprising, given the depth to which Lego has been integrated into Fortnite overall, with over 1,200 in-game skins getting Lego counterparts that owners will receive at no additional cost (and these are now on display when browsing the game’s item shop). .
“This is just the beginning,” Epic Games president Adam Sussman told me, after I finished a Lego Fortnite play session. “We’re starting with this, it’s a great experience, but we’ll learn from what players in our community tell us, and we’ll continue to add elements and features and build from there.
“We already have a roadmap of things for the first six months that we’re going to put into this game and I’m really excited to see it come to life, and we’ll continue to tweak and edit based on how we see our players experience the game and the types of community feedback. There are so many opportunities ahead of us. But on top of that, there will be other experiences that Lego is partnering with us to bring to Fortnite as well.”
Several Lego-themed games will launch within Fortnite starting early next year, Epic Games has now confirmed, while thousands of physical Lego bricks and pieces will be added to Fortnite for creators to use in fan-made Lego modes. It’s a massive addition to Fortnite – even by Fortnite’s ever-changing standards. This has led to further changes to the game’s player safety toolkit.
“We have the opportunity to expand to a whole new audience of players that we want to bring into our ecosystem,” Sussman said. “Along with this expansion comes a commitment to continuing our leadership and player safety. I have children aged four, eight and 10, and I have seen them play other experiences.” [outside of Fortnite] “They’re playing content that’s not appropriate for them — but they didn’t necessarily know that when they released the content, and I don’t know as a parent that they’re trying to play that content.”
“One of the things we talked about early in the partnership is that the internet was never built with kids in mind,” Candela Montero, senior director of global public policy and external affairs at Epic Games, told me. “Companies have had to step back to try to develop the Internet in a way that can accommodate young people who are now digitally savvy and digital natives.
“We wanted to make sure that this next version of the Internet, or you can call it a virtual world, or metaverse, didn’t go through that phase and that it was conceived and designed with players of all ages in mind from the beginning. This is something that both… [Lego and Fortnite] Communication occurred very early and was the basis of all discussions about the partnership.”
Fortnite already had a range of parental controls in place, most notably the concept of Cabin Accounts for players under the age of 13 that have features like real money purchases and chat disabling. Additional controls adjust settings for more detailed options, such as the ability to require a parent PIN when sending or accepting friend requests. And anyone under 18 will default to seeing a version of the game with text and voice chat disabled.
More recent changes include the addition of voice chat reports and the introduction of age ratings for each in-game experience, as well as – initially – splitting many cosmetic items into modes with lower age ratings. Epic quickly announced a rethink on this last bit due to the negative fan backlash sparked by seeing several in-game items now with warning labels attached, banned from modes with an age rating of 12+.
“We took a very conservative approach to how we looked at cosmetics overall, to make sure that there wasn’t any lower-rated experience that would over-rank that trial. Looking back on it, we realized we had taken a radically conservative approach.” Montero admitted.
As of the latest Fortnite update, only six skins now retain these warning labels out of the thousands available in the game overall. An additional update in mid-December will see warning labels removed from more pickaxes and loading screens as well. Finally, next year, a longer process will see the skins adapted to suit the age classifications, taking reaction to the initial process as well as conversations with classification boards into account.
“We don’t just want kids to feel safe and bored, we want them to be safe and excited, and have a lot of fun,” Julia Goldin, Lego’s chief product and marketing officer, told me. “But it isn’t [always] It’s clear how to create that.”
Lego’s partnership with Epic Games grew out of several overlapping factors — the game’s natural compatibility with building, yes, but also the way it helps push the boundaries of the Unreal Engine, as well as Epic Games’ ability to power live experiences at scale, Goldin said. size.
“It also helps that a lot of Lego designers are very avid Fortnite players, and a lot of Fortnite designers are very avid Lego creators,” Goldin noted.
Lego Fortnite launches today as a free-to-play game – one of three major new modes debuting in Fortnite this week, leading the charge ahead of Psyonix’s Rocket Racing tomorrow and Harmonix’s Fortnite Festival the following day. Each adds an entirely new experience to the now multi-genre entity that is Fortnite, while playing within the game’s overall rules on monetization.
“We have very consistent principles around monetization within the ecosystem and those principles are not going to change,” Sussman said. “Everything is free to play, no pay to win, or pay to speed up.” Right now, this means the only way to make money in Lego Fortnite is with the digital minifigures you get when you purchase Fortnite character skins. But Sussman also mentioned the possibility of a dedicated Lego Fortnite season pass, or cosmetic digital Lego building items as something that could come in the future.
What about physical Fortnite Lego sets? Fans have already created their own custom concepts – and the Lego company itself hasn’t gone unnoticed. “There’s clearly an appetite,” Goldin said. “Anything is possible. We are planning our portfolio over the coming years – and again, it’s just the beginning. We won’t rule out physical collections in the future, but there’s nothing concrete yet.”
Lego Fortnite arrives after record high engagement for Fortnite following the hugely popular OG season (which has been confirmed to return in some form in 2024). Interestingly, Sussman noted that the launch of Lego Fortnite (and the festival and Rocket Racing) was intentionally designed to land after the OG season to maximize potential success. “This was completely intentional,” Sussman told me. “About a year ago, we thought it would be a cascade…of these events and that we would launch these new experiences at a time when we hoped to have the largest pool of active users in Fortnite possible.”
More than eight years later, this is an amazing statistic for Fortnite – after a month that saw 100 million players log in. Where will Lego Fortnite – and other Lego games coming next year – take things next? It’s a wonderful possibility. For now, there are cows to pet and caves to explore. Tomorrow is the rocket race. And the next day, Fortnite Festival. Perhaps such times are not simpler after all.
“Analyst. Web buff. Wannabe beer trailblazer. Certified music expert. Zombie lover. Explorer. Pop culture fanatic.”