Unless you've been camping in a bush for the last year or so, you've probably heard of Fortnite. Just like Pokermon Go, Angry Birds or even Pogs (yes. I'm getting old!), Fortnite's gone as viral as a guy in gold spandex paying sax in a shopping mall (...YouTube “Epic Sax Guy” - You can thank me later!). Everywhere you look people seem to be 'flossing' or 'dabbing', and even The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's 'Carlton dance' has made a comeback. Fortnite is everywhere, and it's sooo much damn fun.
Memes aside though, if you are unfamiliar with the concept itself, Fortnite is a 'battle royal' video-game, in which 100 players are dropped onto an island with nothing more than a pickaxe and a 'can-do' attitude. Before deadly storm-clouds engulf the map, players must search houses, outbuildings and supply crates, in search of resources and weapons, to eliminate their opponents and be the last man standing.
Just like poker, Fortnite is a game of strategy and luck, but just how similar are the two games? Well, what do you say we blow the dust off our magnifying glass once again, and see just how much our favourite pastime has in common with the latest video game craze?
Poker vs Fortnite Tournaments
At a basic level, the structure of a Fortnite game mirrors that of the vast majority of poker tournaments. Along with the winner take all format, there's also synergy in the tactical solitude of both MTTs and a solo Fortnite run. The loot feast you're rewarded with after eliminating a Fortnite foe, mirrors that of a bounty tournament too, the pursuit of which can often see you in some sticky situations.
The storm has a lot in common with the blinds in a poker tournament too. Aside from the fact that both chase you like an obsessive ex-partner; these ominous juggernauts are vital in driving the action in both games. Without them, neither game would work; there would be no incentive to take any risks, and players would just wait around for everyone else to make a mistake and lose.
Both the blinds and storm prevent this kind of passiveness because neither leave anywhere to hide. You merely have to keep moving, adjusting and fighting. This forces players to collide, and although approaches to tackling the game's unstoppable steamrollers may vary, most would agree that you're as doomed waiting around for aces as you are T-posing on a street-lamp in Tilted Towers.
Just like a poker tournament, Fortnite is all about survival. The key to both is to be proactive enough to pick your battles sensibly.
Skill Is Still Key
One of the reasons Fortnite is so much more successful than other battle royal games has to be the concept of building. Fortnite enables you to construct ramps, walls, pyramids, roofs, lamas, smiley faces, castles, obligatory penis shapes, and pretty much any other structure you can think of. Battles are no longer just about having the best aim or the more destructive weapon, there about out-manoeuvring and out-building your opponents.
Just like in poker, strategies can vary in terms of complexity and practicality, with each having their own strengths and weaknesses. A player that builds too high is just as exploitable as someone that cbets too much. Build-wars are chess, and whether it's throwing up a roof to block an aerial assault or trapping someone beneath you with a staircase, it takes skill and composure to adjust appropriately to your opponents. It's satisfying seeing your skills are being rewarded and winning a Fortnite build-war does this as much as any battle you'll see at the poker table.
Poker vs Fortnite Powerhouses
The Golden Scar is the pocket Aces of Fortnite. With it in hand, you'll feel like Popeye on spinach or Khabib on a post-McGregor victory lap. You'll emerge from most fights as the victor, but an over-attachment to the scar (such as using it at the wrong range) can be just as catastrophic as over-valuing aces on a dangerous river.
In truth, since the strength of these powerhouses gives you such a massive edge over your opponents, it's difficult to do much wrong with either of them, but, if you want to maximise your success, you'll need to make sure you're using them correctly. Just like at the poker tables, it's all about using the right tool for the right job, and that's another area where skill comes into play.
Game Flow Approach
We've already mentioned the impact the Fortnite storm has in the game's progression, but the storm can be used to get a read on your opponents too. It may move randomly, but since the game gives you plenty of warning, it's possible to use the storm to calculate where opponents are likely to be heading – Smart players position themselves accordingly.
Everyone's approach is different, with some players aiming to avoid hotspots, and others rushing in and waving their purple mini-gun around like a jock does in a locker room. In either case, reading and predicting your opponents' actions like this is just like understanding poker dynamics, or predicting how people will respond to a bad beat or an increase in blind level at the tables.
The Luck Factor
The most obvious similarities between the two games revolve around luck. When we talk about luck in poker, we're usually referring to a Bonomo-style heater; how well we run when all-in, or how good the hands we're being dealt are, but there are more inconspicuous variants of luck too. Things like which side of a cooler we're on or against who (and when) we get our powerhouse hands are two good examples.
In Fortnite, however, the luck is a little less obvious. Of course, the quality of gun you find is easy to compare to the standard of hands you're dealt at the poker table - since both are significant and yet entirely out of your control - but there are more variations of luck in Fortnite too.
A good example would be how the quality of players that enter the Battle Royal works in precisely the same way as a tournament lobby or poker seat draw does. Other examples include where players land or how far the storm forces you to move, which can cause the same vantage pros and cons as being in and out of position at the poker table.
Most things in life are the product of luck, and if there's one thing both games prove, it's that life is better if you're luckier. Neither Fortnite nor poker are just about luck, though, nor are they truly about testing yourself, or enjoying the mental warfare that comes with trying to outsmart another human being.
Sure, these things are what make the games so intricate, but mostly, these games are about having fun - That's why people love them, and that's why they're here to stay.