Is Fortnite slowly becoming Ready Player One’s Oasis?

Epic Games
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The “Ready Player One” books take place heavily in a virtual universe in which everyone can coexist and do different things. It was also a hodgepodge of pop culture where it wasn’t rare to see someone hanging out in the offices from Blade Runner, seeing R2-D2 spinning at a nightclub, an entire planet dedicated to Rush and another to Prince, or even witnessing Ultraman fight Mechagodzilla. Is Fortnite becoming this Oasis?

I remember still working at Gamestop when Fortnite first came out. It…did not do well. I remember, personally, not buying it because I couldn’t stand zombie games. It’s not that I hate zombies, I just thought the concept was tired and it bored me. But that’s how Fortnite got it’s start. You literally tried to survive a fortnite building forts to protect you from zombies at night. Get it? That’s where the name came from.

It got so bad that you could buy the physical copy (remember those?) of the game from Gamestop for a dollar just so we could get rid of our over stock. Then the impossible happened.

A lot of people like to talk about No Man’s Sky’s jump in popularity from a game everyone felt ripped off by to this seemingly impossible galaxy as if it’s the first of it’s kind to rise from the ashes like a digital phoenix but I present Fortnite as a bigger example of this.

One day, unwilling to just drop the game like most companies seem to do now, Fortnite revealed a completely unrelated to the story multiplayer mode that involved a battle royale. It was similar to the mode other games have been doing for a bit now but something about Fortnite’s art style drew people in and suddenly the world was obsessed over it. Then it happened.

Several years ago, as a tie-in with the upcoming Marvel movies: Infinity War and Endgame, Fortnite announced a cross over with Marvel in which several Marvel characters would become playable skins. In addition to this they added a mode in which a player could find the Infinity Gauntlet and become Thanos, wielding his ridiculous power as you take out the other players. Things went nuts.

More crossovers happened. Suddenly people were playing as John Wick, or players from the NFL, DC jumped into the fight being the first game where Marvel could face off against DC. It was a huge moment the first time I was hiding in a room and I watched Star-Lord take out Batman.

Then the DJ Marshmello held an in-game concert that was free for any player to attend. It was an actual music event that anyone playing the game could access and many players even unlocked Marshmello costumes allowing them to run around with the DJs signature helmet.

Players could get together and do something other than fight. You just chilled and watched a music event.

Later director Christopher Nolan got in on this and decided to host movie nights where he game the game access to three of his films, The Dark Knight, Inception, and, surprisingly enough, The Prestige. People could actually get together in a virtual space and watch a movie together. It reminded me a LOT of what Playstation Home tried to do.

As time went on things just got crazier and crazier. Characters from Star Wars, Rick and Morty, Family Guy, Street Fighter, even Cobra Kai started running around in the game. Many bringing with them new mechanics you could use. Batman introduced a grapple gun, Spider-Man brought in web swinging, Segway introduced…Segways. It was crazy. And then things went from grand to Grande.

In August 2021 Fortnite announced a several day event called the Rift Tour filled with all sorts of new features and also…an Ariana Grande concert. But this wasn’t just a concert, this was an EVENT. You can watch it here if you’re curious as to what I’m talking about.

Unlike the Marshmello concert where you were running around a virtual concert hall, you were living through a concert length music video. You were being pulled into the sky by a giant Ariana Grande who was looking directly at you. You floated into the air as you watched her caccoon herself inside a massive bubble only to emerge with not only a new outfit but a set of crystalline wings. Suddenly you were flying behind her, soaring through the air behind her as she continued to sing. It was insane.

And of course, this lead to her being playable in the game massively increasing the huge amount of people that Ariana Grande gets to kill in video games (note to self: update the list).

It created a massive space where even people who don’t like running around shooting people (like myself) could get together with strangers or friends and just live out fun limited time moments. People who couldn’t normally afford these sorts of things were getting to see virtual concerts and movies in an app that runs on damn near anything and is free.

And it’s still going strong. Eminem, for example, just recently held a short live event where he both metaphorically and literally destroyed.

There’s even an upcoming concert by the Weeknd soon as well. It’s insane. But this last year? This last year got WILD. Read the next page for the new things that have entered in just the last year.