The massively popular video game Fortnite has launched a high-profile collaboration with Lego.
Crafting has always been a core mechanic of the online shooter, which has more than 400 million players.
Now it has released an entirely new survival game mode, where players will do their crafting with Lego bricks.
And it seems to have drawn inspiration from Minecraft – a Lego-style block-building and crafting game – which is the best-selling game of all time.
Fortnite technically has multiple game modes, but its online battle royale is by far its most popular, where up to 100 players compete to be the last one standing.
Minecraft, on the other hand, is a survival game in which players build structures as well as craft tools and weapons.
When Fortnite first released it came with a similar crafting survival mode, named Fortnite: Save the World, which was released before its battle royale mode even existed.
But the extraordinary popularity of Fortnite: Battle Royale – itself inspired by the Japanese thriller film of the same name and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – completely dwarfed the game’s other modes, and Fortnite is now known to most as an online shooter with crafting elements.
All of this means the new collaboration is in a way bringing Fortnite back to its roots, but the link-up with Lego is more than just a facelift.
The trailer shows that the game world has changed dramatically, with structures and characters throughout all based on Lego products.
And there are moments clearly inspired by Minecraft, with the player building a fence around sheep, growing vegetables, and eating around a campfire.
But fans of Fortnite will not be surprised by the high-profile collaboration, as the game is known for it – having previously held in-game concerts with real celebrities such as Marshmello and Ariana Grande.
Despite having a massive 70 million monthly players, Fortnite developer Epic Games wants more.
“This is absolutely about expansion,” said president Adam Sussman.
“This is also an expansion in terms of having these experiences appeal to a wide variety of audiences, ranging from kids to teens to adults.”
Children and teens
There have been a massive amount of Lego games over the years, all the way from 1997’s fan favourite Lego Island to modern tie-ins with Star Wars, Harry Potter and Marvel.
But these games, much like the bricks themselves, are almost always rated as suitable for young children.
Fortnite, on the other hand, is rated PEGI 12 in the UK and EU, meaning it is considered suitable for children aged 12 and over. It has a similar rating in the US.
To deal with this, Mr Sussman said Epic had worked on parental controls and online safety features to make sure the game was suitable.
“One of the things that we recently implemented was a rating system, so each piece of content is rated appropriately for the audience,” he said.
“And we allow – through our parental controls – the parents to decide what type of content their kids will be able to see.
“As an example, [the Fortnite Lego mode] is E10+ rated, whereas Fortnite is T rated. We believe with that rating, we can appeal to the younger audiences and attract a whole new set of audiences that will come and experience Fortnite now.”
However, Fortnite has faced some criticism in the past, in particular from Prince Harry, who said in 2019 the game was “created to addict”.
But Eurogamer editor-in-chief Tom Phillips said such comments were often levied at video games in general.
“A lot of that criticism is: how do people spend their time, how are they interacting with other people on the internet?” he said.
Ultimately, he said people can choose which game to play based on their interests, and if they don’t like shooting games they can simply avoid them.
“Battle royale, by its very nature, you’re going to be in combat, you’re going to be shooting people. And there are people who either just don’t want to engage with that, or there are people who, like with Lego, are probably a bit too young for that.”
For Lego, it may be unknown what will come from the link-up with Fortnite but its chief product and marketing officer Julia Goldin said that was the price of ambition.
“Every collaboration and everything that you do, especially things that are ambitious, carry a lot of unknowns with them,” she said.
“We don’t yet know exactly how the game is going to land, what kids want to do versus what others would like to do, which things are gonna resonate and which things will not.
“So there are some plans already on the kinds of updates and new ideas that are going to be coming… other types of games that will start also being available on the Fortnite platform over the course of 2024.”