Never heard of Fortnite? Your Scouts or Venturers can get you up to speed on the biggest videogame phenomenon in years.
The Battle Royale game for computers, consoles and iOS devices pits 100 players against each other to be the last player standing on an ever-shrinking map. There are forts to build, treasure boxes to open and storms to escape.
It’s free to play, wildly addictive and lots of fun.
The game, while ultimately based around combat, imparts lessons in critical thinking, teamwork and wilderness survival — all lessons learned in Scouting.
With that in mind, I thought I’d come up with the Top 5 merit badges that would help you win that sweet Victory Royale.
But first, an obligatory “dadclaimer” (that’s a disclaimer written by a dad):
Fortnite: Battle Royale is rated “T” for “Teen” and contains cartoonish violence. Fortnite, like all videogames, should be used in moderation. Time spent crossing the streams or climbing the mountains in Fortnite is not an adequate substitute for time spent crossing real streams or climbing actual mountains. Parental discretion is advised.
The Fortnite map is large, meaning a player conceivably could run around for the whole game without encountering anyone else.
That is, if not for the Storm. The storm harms anyone unlucky enough to be caught in its purplish path.
Every few minutes, the eye of the storm — the safe area — shrinks, forcing the players ever closer. Games usually end with three or four players confined to an area about the size of two football fields.
Reading the storm is essential to survival in Fortnite. The same is true in Scouting, as any Scout who earns the Weather merit badge will come to learn.
Let’s browse the requirements for this, my favorite merit badge from back when I was a Scout …
“Improvise a natural shelter.” Yes.
“Protect yourself from insects, reptiles, bears and other animals of the local region.” If people count as “other animals,” then sure.
“Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost.” Oh, I absolutely have felt panic while playing this game.
Yeah, the Wilderness Survival merit badge is basically a perfect fit for Fortnite. The game even has Cozy Campfire that gives you health by standing near it. Pretty much the same as a real campfire, as long as you don’t get too close.
Fortniter, heal thyself. When you’re hurt in Fortnite, you simply find some bandages or a med kit and restore your health bar.
In the videogame world, it’s really that simple.
In real life, though, things get a little more complicated. Is the injury a sprain or a strain? A bruise or a broken bone?
Scouts who earn the Eagle-required First Aid merit badge learn how to recognize and treat these injuries and many more.
The good Fortnite players (a group of which I’m not a member) say the game really comes down to who’s the best builder.
Players collect wood, brick and metal during the game and use those materials to build ramps, walls and towers. If you can build a structure that’s taller and sturdier and more complex than your opponent, you’re at an advantage.
And if you’ve got experience building things out of wood for the Pioneering merit badge, you’re at an even bigger advantage.
One reminder, though: “All pioneering projects constructed for this merit badge must comply with height standards as outlined in the Guide to Safe Scouting.”
So those seven-story-high wooden ramps are best left in the virtual world.
Another thing you need to know about Fortnite is that it’s more fun when you play with friends.
There are three main modes: solo, duo and squad (teams of four). In duos and squads, players use their voice headsets to communicate with each other.
That makes two skills essential: a knowledge of basic compass directions and the ability to read a map.
For example: When your teammate says “meet me at the house at 45°,” he or she wants you to head northeast.
Good thing you’ve earned the Orienteering merit badge. You’ll be the best teammate ever.