Ever since Marshmello first took the virtual stage in Fortnite, developer Epic Games has experimented with different ways to bring music into the game. That could mean a gigantic Travis Scott stomping around the battle royale island or even building a separate space dedicated explicitly to live performances. This week’s musical experience featuring English band Easy Life is yet another new technique: a strange world built in Fortnite’s creative mode. It might be the trippiest virtual concert yet.
It starts out normal enough. Players are ushered into a virtual re-creation of The O2 Arena in London, where the band welcomes you via gigantic screen. From there, things get progressively weirder. First, you’re pushed into a room that slowly fills with water before you’re flushed down a gigantic toilet into a surreal desert filled with massive tube TVs. It’s a bit like a pop art take on Salvador Dalí. Subsequent locations are just as odd: you’ll dance inside the corpse of a huge monster, ride a hoverboard across a twisted city straight out of Inception, and then float amid the stars.
Each area is also outfitted with lots and lots of screens where you can watch the band. There are TVs floating in the sky and even some wedged between the ribs of the deceased monster. It’s kind of like watching a series of music videos while hanging out in a bunch of weird virtual spaces. You can dance, run, and jump, but there are no guns or ways to mess with other players. The videos also match the theme of the locations: when you’re in the desert, for instance, all of the band are buried to their necks in sand. At the end, a sense of normalcy resumes, with players transported to a luxury box back at the arena, like you’re waking up from a dream. The whole thing lasts about 20 minutes.
The Easy Life event, which runs until 7PM ET on June 27th, presents an interesting middle ground for Fortnite concerts. The Travis Scott and Marshmello shows were impressive but were also huge undertakings; the entire battle royale game comes to a halt in order to accommodate them. (That’s likely the reason there have only been two since 2019.) Meanwhile, concerts in party royale — a violence-free social space that debuted in 2020 — are relatively simple, as players can gather together to watch a performance on a big screen. Easy Life’s show, meanwhile, has the best of both worlds. It was built in Fortnite’s Minecraft-like creative mode, so it exists in its own space distinct from the main game, but it’s also much stranger and more interactive than the party royale events.
Music is clearly a big part of Fortnite’s plans as it continues to shift into something much more ambitious than a multiplayer shooter. “Our lofty goal is to create the entertainment experience of the future,” Epic’s chief creative officer Donald Mustard told me in March. And utilizing the creative seems like a good way to make these experiences both more interesting and more regular. At the very least, it’s a chance to listen to an up-and-coming band while riding a hoverboard across some skyscrapers.