Time To Build

Lego Fortnite Is A World Building Game For Kids And Brick-Loving Adults

Lego Fortnite, a year in the making, has officially launched. You can play in creative or survival mode and use 10,000 different digital Lego bricks.

Lego bricks and minifigs long ago left the realm of mere plastic — there are scores of Lego video games, several TV shows, and of course movies — but now you can access Lego in Fortnite, the hugely popular multiplayer video game. A year in the making, Lego Fortnite is not just a minifigure version of the Battle Royale, Fortnite’s most famous iteration, but something that’s much more akin to a Lego version of Minecraft.

The game exists as a realm in Fortnite. Once in, players can choose from a multitude of minifig avatars, clever Lego adaptations of recognizable Fortnite characters, and then use more than 10,000 different kinds of digital bricks to build elaborate creations. It’s obvious the rich world was designed with Lego fanatics in mind; this version of Fortnite may be Lego’s giant step into the metaverse, but much care has been put into making it feel like you’re really building something. “I think the development team took a ton of pride in making sure that the Lego-ness is there, for lack of a better term, that the bricks make the right sound when they hit each other, when they stick together, that the destruction is almost as important as the building,” says Nate Nanzer, vice president of partnerships for Epic Games, which owns Fortnite.

Lego Fortnite can be played in either Sandbox or Survival mode. In Survival mode, players can team up with up to seven friends to explore and brave a series of challenges, including ravenous creatures, nasty weather, and hunger. In Sandbox, they can focus on gathering resources and building elaborate brick creations, hence the Minecraft comparisons. The animations will be deeply satisfying for Lego lovers. Each of the different digital brick shapes corresponds to a real-life brick, and anything you can build in Lego Fortnite you could theoretically build in the real world. There are guided builds, where you can follow instructions (again, much like the real-world Lego experience), or once you gain some confidence with the tools, you can free build. “It's almost like the digital version of that feeling when you're nine years old and you dumped all the toys out on the floor and anything is possible, that's what that mode is all about,” says Nanzer.

For parents who wish they too were getting brand-new Legos for Christmas, the game offers a chance to build side-by-side with their kids. Or even after your kid has gone to bed. At least that’s what Lego hopes. “We believe fundamentally at the Lego group that every human being has a need to play,” says Remi Marcelli, the senior vice president in charge of Lego’s gaming division. “The fact that children and adults play the same thing and sometimes at the same time, it's not bad — it’s great.”

How to play Lego Fortnite.

Fortnite is available on a number of different platforms, including Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft and Android systems, and is free to play, though players have lots of opportunities to spend real money in the game — more on that below. Each player’s world is entirely their own, and they can invite friends in to play or build with them there; Fortnite can be played across different platforms, so a kid on a laptop can play with a friend on their Switch. Friends can even be given a key that allows them to access a world even when its owner is away from the game.

What are the safety concerns for parents in Lego Fortnite?

Fortnite’s challenge was to convince parents that their Lego-loving kids would enjoy a game previously synonymous with fight-to-the-death-but-make-it-goofy. As the Lego site says, Lego Fortnite “isn’t Battle Royale with minifigures.” But before they could do that, Epic games has to make sure parents feel comfortable letting their kids loose on the platform.

“I think the thing that concerns me most as a parent is the social aspect of being online,” says Nanzer. As of last month, Fortnite as an ecosystem now has rated experiences from E (for everyone) to E10+ to Teen. Fortnite Battle Royale is rated T for Teen, but Lego Fortnite is rated E10+. To ensure the social aspects feel safe, the game allows parents to limit whether kids can add friends without permission and who they can engage in voice chat with, for example. (Many games require you to toggle voice chat “on” or “off,” but Fortnite allows parents to curate a list of players their kids can chat with.)

And for parents who’ve read horror stories about kids running up huge bills (of the very real kind) in Fortnite, the game sets an automatic spending limit for any player under the age of 13. Parents can also require a pin code be entered to authorize real money purchases using Epic payment.

There is one health and safety advantage built into the digital version that you can’t get with analog Lego: The bricks in Lego Fortnite don’t hurt when you step on them.