Fortnite Party Royale: Rewards, event time, map and how to play it

(Image credit: Epic Games)

If Fortnite’s Travis Scott concert taught us anything, it’s that people are eager to use the wildly popular game for social gatherings, not just digital shootouts. With that in mind, Epic Games has launched Fortnite: Party Royale. This violence-free mode in its massively popular online shooter encourages people to get together, hang out, play minigames and just generally socialize in a way that’s difficult when a lot of people can’t physically leave their homes.

Party Royale went live in Fortnite on April 29, as part of its part of the game’s most recent update. The mode has no weapons and no crafting — the two hallmarks, one would think, of the Fortnite experience. Instead, an in-game message invites players to “hang out with friends, play games, perfect your skydive and more.” Also noteworthy: Unlike normal Fortnite games, Party Royale mode is not limited to 100 players.

(It’s not clear what the upper limit is, but if the Travis Scott concert is any indication, it’s probably a much higher number than we traditionally associate with Fortnite maps.)

The rationale behind the new mode isn’t hard to figure out. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, governments all around the world have encouraged people to stay home as much as possible. Even when they can go out, there’s not much open aside from grocery stores and pharmacies. The traditional hangout spots — parks, bars, even people’s houses — are off-limits until we get the all-clear from public health officials.

As such, we’ve seen a huge spike in virtual shared spaces, from Zoom to Google Hangouts. Even the World Health Organization has encouraged people to stay home and play video games. As such, it was only a matter of time until a game developer realized that actually playing online games is often secondary to the experience of using online games to spend time with friends. (I suppose Second Life could have filled this niche, had it not been subsumed by weird niche pornography first, but I digress.)

For those who want to spend time with friends online, Party Royale could be a smart middle ground between staring at a static Zoom screen and having to focus on a frenetic multiplayer match.

Fortnite Party Royale start time

Fortnite Party Royale's first big event is Party Royale Premiere, which will feature live sets from DJs Deadmau5, Steve Aoki and Dillon Francis. You can catch the action live on May 8th at 9PM ET by entering Party Royale mode.

How to play Fortnite Party Royale mode

As far as playing Party Royale goes, it’s ridiculously simple. Just download Fortnite, if you don’t already have it. It’s free, and available on just about every platform, from PC, to consoles, to mobile phones. Set up your account, log in and get ready to play a game as usual.

When you get to the screen that lets you select between different game modes (Solo, Squads, Arena, Creative, Arena, etc.), simply select Party Royale. That’s all there is to it. You can invite friends the same way you’d invite them to a competitive game, or you can just jump into a public lobby and spend time with strangers. It may be boring; you may make a new friend. There’s only one way to find out.

What’s interesting about Party Royale mode is not necessarily the feature itself, but that Fortnite is beginning to establish itself as a digital alternative to the “third place”: a location where people feel at home that isn’t their house, or their office. For a lot of people, this is often a bar, or a gym, or a coffee shop — places where it’s basically impossible to go right now. Party Royale could encourage people to mingle digitally in the long run, or it could just be a stopgap until things get back to normal in the physical world. We’ll know for sure in (hopefully) a few months.

Fortnite Party Royale rewards

Those who participate in Fortnite Party Royale will earn a special Neon Wings Back Bling, according to a leak from earlier this week. This add-on will react to in-game music, making it the perfect companion for Fortnite's special in-game concers and events. 

Fortnite Party Royale map

We've also gotten an early look at the Fortnite Party Royale map via reputable Twitter leaker Lucas7yoshi. Players that have gotten into Party Royale so far claim that the social space has various challenges to complete, but also encourages players to simply hang out and explore.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.