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If you have not heard of Fortnite, then welcome back to civilisation. It is one of the most popular games in the world right now, and the most popular in the booming Battle Royale genre.

For the uninitiated, the Battle Royale genre sees a hundred or so players thrown together into one game world, and fight for survival in a last-avatar-standing face-off as the "safe zone" relentlessly shrinks, forcing the surviving players closer and closer together to deliver the coup de grace. So why is Fortnite so popular then?

1. It's free to play

Fortnite's Battle Royale mode is totally free to play, so the barrier to entry is a games machine and an internet connection. But where other free-to-play games seem to involve interminable grind to make any meaningful progress, Fortnite plops 100 players onto an island for anarchic larks.

Even though there are ways to pay for the game (and its maker Epic Games is absolutely coining it, make no mistake) they do not confer any player advantage. They're purely cosmetic. So whether you pay for Fortnite or not, it is a game with fairness in its very guts.

2. It's colourful and brash (in the most lovely way)

Have you seen video games lately? As game consoles and PCs become more powerful, game makers strive to bring players the best and even more realistic experience, at least in terms of looks. Fortnite is a primary colour and explosion of a rainbow factory, the visuals are gorgeous, but also welcoming. "This is a game for everyone," it says, through its technicolour vuvuzela.

3. It's hugely social

Fortnite is fun enough alone, but it's an unabashed joy to play with others. The game supports crossplay, so you're limited to battling with people on the same game platform as you. But it's also fun to take turns and spectate, which is quite rare in real life and even more so on gaming these days.

4. It's not really about shooting each other

Part of the genius of Fortnite is its season pass system, known in-game as the Battle Pass. This allows players to pony up a relatively modest sum every few months for a host of unlocked player skins, items and activities. So when you parachute into the fray, your first priority may not be to hunt down the opposition but rather find a quaking rubber duck (no, really) or a loot chest at a particular location.

Even when your mission is to gun for the number one spot, the violence is so cartoonish that it's a far cry from the majority of "gritty" shooters on the market.

5. Its changing, dynamic world

The Fortnite world feels alive, whether you fork out for the Battle Passes or not, each season brings with it a host of changes to the Fortnite sole map. Recent weeks have teased the start of Season 5 with a launch of a rocket – a one-time-only event that you had to be online at a certain time to witness. It was followed by the appearance of energy rifts causing objects from the map to go missing.

In summary Fortnite may have been beaten to market by also huge PUBG, but where that game has struggled to maintain an enthusiastic player base, with unpopular additions, a season pass is seen as cynical (PUBG, unlike Fortnite, is not free to play in the first place) and ongoing technical issues, Epic Games' behemoth goes from strength to strength.

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