Since the start of season 4 Marvel super-villain Galactus has been looming over Fortnite's island, and last night he arrived. The event was another demonstration of Epic's commitment to the spectacular: shortly after 9pm BST, players stood on the SHIELD Helicarrier watching the super-villain's approach, before being launched into a short on-rails sequence starring various Avengers, listening to some AC/DC, and then jamming an exploding Battle Bus into the baddy's gob.
Shortly after the event ended, Epic revealed that it had led to Fortnite's highest-ever number of concurrent players, an astonishing 15.3 million people, as well as attracting a huge online audience.
We defeated him! A record 15.3 million concurrent players joined forces in our biggest event ever to fight back Galactus in today's in-game event, while more than 3.4 million cheered and watched on @YouTubeGaming and @Twitch! pic.twitter.com/IAcNpcPKEwDecember 2, 2020
That's like three times the population of Scotland. Maybe Epic's real endgame with microtransactions could be establishing its own sovereign nation, where grateful peons proffer their bank cards to King Sweeney for three-month residency permits.
In all seriousness, the scale of this event can only be applauded. Galactus is by no means the first example of how Fortnite has turned its wild success into a platform for in-game activities that are surprising, fun, and clearly engage the playerbase. There's a wonderful moment during this encounter when the Battle Bus is left hovering in the void before Galactus and, for a few seconds, you look around and see the hundreds and hundreds of other Battle Buses floating in space alongside you. That may be just smoke-and-mirrors, but the sense of being part of something larger it creates is real.
And I found it pretty funny that everything ended up with indigestion on a cosmic scale. Fortnite player FranktheSirMan had perhaps the the most galaxy-brained take on how the event ended.
The Galactus event was the prelude to the launch of Fortnite season 5, which is now live, and here's everything you need to know about it (in a nutshell: out with the Marvel, in with the Mandalorian).
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Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."