Why Does Fortnite Have a Narrative?

Epic’s chief creative officer, Donald Mustard, explains the game’s bold narrative ambitions.

It’s a game where 100 players drop onto a cartoonish island, dress up as bananas or Star Wars heroes, gather up guns and other gear, and attempt to eliminate each other until only one remains. When that’s done, you queue up and try again.

But within this multiplayer shooter framework, Fortnite has steadily turned into one of the biggest and boldest storytelling experiments in history. From live events experienced by millions to cinematics created with the help of Hollywood directors, the team at Epic has continuously tested new ideas, injecting narrative elements in a way that feels natural and meaningful. Fortnite is among the biggest games in the world and arguably the most culturally impactful. And for Donald Mustard, chief creative officer at Epic Games, it was a chance he couldn’t ignore.

“For me, it was an opportunity to almost create a new medium,” Mustard tells The Verge.

That focus on storytelling is particularly obvious now, after the launch of the game’s most recent season. For the first time, players were able to play through a single-player mission — a brief, action-filled sequence in which they were guided by a glowing butterfly to help restore reality. It featured more traditional hallmarks of video game narrative, like dialogue and cutscenes. And for Mustard, it’s something he’s been working toward for a while.

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