Visually, Fortnite doesn’t look anything like Epic’s other big franchises. While Gears of War and Unreal thrive on gruesome monsters, hulked out dudebros, impossibly large guns, and buckets of gore, Fortnite is bright and friendly. The main game still has zombies, and Battle Royale is chock-full of player-on-player murder, but it’s all offset by a family-friendly art design and a healthy sense of humor.
Fortnite wasn’t always so innocent, however. When development started, the game was as dark and grimy as Epic’s other projects. At PAX Prime in 2012, Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski said that Fortnite’s original art design was too depressing. A serious post-apocalyptic landscape might’ve suited the material just fine, but Epic’s developers were worried that it’d grate on players who invested a lot of time in the game. They wanted Fortnite to be fun, after all, not a slog. Besides, games like DayZ and H1Z1, which are also zombie-infested survival games, already have the grim and gritty market cornered. Making Fortnite look different is a great way to set it apart from its competitors.
As a result, Epic abandoned its original approach and turned to Pixar flicks, old Looney Tunes shorts, and Tim Burton’s filmography for inspiration. The end result, which features loot boxes shaped like pinatas, flying buses, and traffic cone hats, may not be hardcore enough for a contingent of serious fans, but it certainly looks different from anything else on the market. Mission accomplished.