Fortnite’s new experimental mode is about partying, not fighting

It’s time to party in Fortnite. Epic just launched a new, violence-free mode for the game, dubbed “party royale,” which removes two of the biggest elements from the experience: weapons and buildings. The mode introduces a new, smaller map, and Epic describes it as an “experimental and evolving space.”

The mode is playable right now, and the new island is already pretty full of things to do. At the center is a small city-esque space full of fast food joints, with other areas spreading out from there. That includes cliffs and a beachfront, which feature a series of vehicle-based challenges that involve piloting a boat or ATV across perilous terrain. And while standard weapons aren’t in this mode, there are vending machines around the island that give you nonlethal gear, like paint guns and vehicles. There are also other interactive spaces, like a soccer field, and you can even change your appearance at any point via phone booths.

Elsewhere, there’s an incredibly trippy outdoor dance club, with mats to bounce off of and lots of bright lights. There’s also what appears to be a holographic movie theater. These locations in particular suggest events will be coming to party royale. After all, it makes a lot more sense to debut, say, a Quibi show inside of a violence-free mode like this, rather than the main winner-takes-all shootout.

While the last-man-standing battle royale mode has long been the main draw for Fortnite, Epic has gone to great lengths to offer different kinds of experiences. That includes the game’s creative mode, which launched in 2018 and lets players create their own mini-games and worlds within Fortnite. This also extends to in-game events: last weekend’s “Astronomical” event, an in-game concert tour by rapper Travis Scott, was a similarly violence-free experience that also turned out to be the biggest event in Fortnite’s history. party royale appears to be the next step in this evolution.