The future of music

Fortnite Festival: Epic Games unveils a new virtual music experience

December 12, 2023
Fortnite Festival: a new virtual music experience
Source: Fortnite

Key takeaways

  • Fortnite Festival introduces the first free-to-play AAA virtual music experience, blending iconic rhythm gaming with Fortnite’s dynamic world.
  • Players can form bands, select tracks, and rock out on the Main Stage or mix innovative beats on the Jam Stage.
  • With diverse tracks from global artists and evolving gameplay, Fortnite Festival marks a new era in interactive music experiences.

Epic Games has recently unveiled ‘Fortnite Festival,’ a dynamic new addition to its popular Fortnite game platform. This virtual music experience, embedded within the Fortnite application, marks a fresh direction for the gaming giant.

Harmonix, a studio renowned for creating the legendary music games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, developed Fortnite Festival. Harmonix joined Epic Games in 2021, bringing their expertise in crafting immersive musical gaming experiences. These earlier titles, released in the early 2000s, were monumental hits, revolutionizing music gaming with record-breaking sales.

Fortnite Festival aims to recapture the thrill of being a rock star. Players can immerse themselves in their favorite songs, playing at breakneck speeds. Success in the game brings the exhilaration of audience cheers, while mistakes might just provoke a desire to smash your virtual guitar in frustration.

Fortnite Festival – Official Launch Trailer

Fortnite Festival: a new era of free-to-play virtual music experiences

Fortnite Festival stands out as the first AAA-level music game that is completely free to play, leveraging the unique social environment of Fortnite. It offers an expansive library of global hits across various genres and eras, catering to diverse musical tastes. Whether you’re teaming up with friends or playing solo, Fortnite Festival promises a fun and engaging experience.

Currently, players can use keyboards, mouse, or game controller buttons for gameplay. However, Epic Games is teasing the potential return of physical music game instruments like guitars, drums, and keyboards. These instruments were a hit during the Guitar Hero and Rock Band era and might soon find a new life in the Fortnite Festival.

Fortnite Festival: Epic Games unveils a new virtual music experience 1
A complete Guitar Hero set with physical instrument controllers – Source: eBay

Fortnite can be downloaded on multiple platforms including PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Android devices. For those preferring cloud gaming, options like Xbox Cloud Gaming, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, and Amazon Luna are available, allowing you to play directly on your phone or computer.

The Main Stage: a core experience in Fortnite Festival

In Fortnite Festival, players are greeted with two core virtual music experiences: the Festival Main Stage and Festival Jam Stage.

On the Main Stage, groups of up to four can join forces. Here, participants are taken to a virtual backstage area where they assign roles: lead (Guitar or Keytar), Drums, vocals (Mic), and Bass. This collaborative setup fosters a genuine band experience.

Choosing your setlist, or ‘Jam Tracks’ as they’re known in-game, is a crucial step before hitting the stage. Players can select four tracks initially, with opportunities to unlock or purchase more as they progress through the game or via the Fortnite Shop.

The gameplay mirrors the mechanics of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Notes cascade across the screen in time with the music, challenging players to match pitch, timing, and rhythm accurately. Skillful play earns points, represented as stars, which are essential for completing Festival Quests. Accumulating Festival Points through these quests unlocks various rewards, enhancing the gaming experience.

Fortnite Festival: Epic Games unveils a new virtual music experience 2
Source: Fortnite

The tracklist is impressively diverse, featuring artists like The Weeknd, the White Stripes, Machine Gun Kelly, Lady Gaga, The Killers, Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar, and The Cranberries. This eclectic mix not only appeals to millennial fans of Guitar Hero and Rock Band but also aims to attract the younger, Fortnite-savvy generation.

A virtual music experience mixing creativity and rewards

Fortnite Festival’s Jam Stage offers a unique space for players to showcase their creativity. Here, you can collaborate with your party or join three other players to craft innovative music mixes.

The Jam Stage allows you to layer up to four different Jam Tracks loops at once, creating unique and unexpected musical mashups. Players have the freedom to tweak tempo, key, and switch between major and minor settings, offering a genuine jam session experience.

Fortnite Festival also features a rich collection of items for players to earn, purchase, or collect. These range from musical Instruments and Auras (visual effects that enhance your performance) to Emotes for post-performance expression and distinctive Outfits that define your in-game persona.

The inaugural Season 1 of Fortnite Festival, running from December 9, 2023, to February 22, 2024, spotlights The Weeknd as the iconic figure. Progressing through the game unlocks additional rewards, including The Weeknd-themed Outfit.

In tune with Fortnite’s vibrant and competitive spirit, players can also opt for The Weeknd Combat Outfit, available in striking black and white Styles, adding an edgy flair to the musical battles.

Fortnite Festival: Epic Games unveils a new virtual music experience 3
Source: Fortnite

Virtual music experiences are the future

The trajectory of music experiences is unmistakably shifting towards the virtual realm. With innovations like virtual concerts, metaverse bands, and interactive games like Fortnite Festival, the landscape is rapidly evolving. These platforms offer music enthusiasts diverse ways to enjoy and interact with music, all from the comfort of their homes.

The fusion of the gaming and music sectors, both multi-billion dollar industries, is seeing robust and continuous growth. The resurgence of music-themed games, exemplified by Fortnite Festival, reflects a strategic and innovative move by Epic Games.

As game designer and musician from Harmonix Alex Rigopulos said, their goal is to “have musical experiences permeate the ecosystem.” So, Fortnite Festival is just the beginning of this journey. Anticipation builds for future updates, including the reintroduction of instrument controllers, further bridging the gap between virtual and real-world music experiences.

Sabrina Bonini

Sabrina Bonini is a content specialist, writer, and educator focused on Web3 and entrepreneurship. She started her career as an audio engineer and musician, and has been passionate about the intersection of music and cutting-edge technology since then.

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