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Fortnite Festival hands-on: rhythm action from the Rock Band devs comes to Fortnite

Fortnite has Rock Band now

Fortnite has Rock Band now. Fortnite Festival is a game of two halves: on one side it’s a cooperative rhythm game where you and your friends, dressed to the nines in your best Fortnite skins, take to the stage and press buttons in time with notes floating down the screen. On the other, you jam it out, selecting loops from popular songs before mashing them together to create something uniquely cursed. 

The latter feels more like a fun distraction, and it got more than a laugh out of my preview group as we mashed Gangnam Style up with Mr. Brightside, but it’s not something I can see people spending a lot of time with. It’s pure social media clip bait, but my face was hurting within minutes because it’s pure joy.

Fortnite Festival

On the other side of Fortnite Festival, you’ve essentially got Rock Band without the peripherals. Four of you choose a track list and your instruments, then you take to the stage and press buttons in time with the prompts while Peely does devil horns. The challenge changes depending on whether you’re on vocals, bass, guitar, keyboard, or drums, and there are also three difficulty selections, each complete with global leaderboards. 

Lady Gaga, The Cranberries, Nine Inch Nails, QoTSA, Billie Eilish, and The Weeknd are just some of the stars that grace the initial tracklist. 

Fortnite Festival

It took me a little time to wrap my head around the default button layout for Fortnite Festival. Essentially, you’re hitting keys in time across four columns, and each column is represented by a button from left to right. So left on the D-pad, right on the D-pad, then X, then B (on Xbox controllers). That’s a straight line when you’re looking at the pad, but it doesn’t feel like one when it’s two of your thumbs on different sides of the controller. 

I found the keyboard scheme a lot easier to handle, but I felt like I’d just been battered by a jiu-jitsu practitioner after playing just two songs. The RSI is real. 

Harmonix says all of this is, of course, customizable, so I’m sure people will find the most comfortable setups for them as they play. There’s also a chance that the developer will add support for peripherals down the line so we can all dust off those plastic guitars in our attics.

While I don’t see Fortnite Festival being as popular as any of the other modes launched within the Fortnite launcher this week, it’ll develop a competitive community over time. Its longevity will depend on the updates and new tracks.