Here's what it was like inside 'Fortnite's' exclusive 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' event, where fans got a sneak peek at the movie and danced with director J.J. Abrams (DIS)


Fortnite Star Wars

  • On Saturday, “Fortnite” players got to watch a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released movie “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
  • During the event, players were also greeted by avatars of “The Rise of Skywalker” director J.J. Abrams, and Game Awards host Geoff Keighley.
  • Despite the flood of viewers making it difficult to log in, I was able to get into the game for a front row look at the event.
  • Here’s what “Fortnite’s” exclusive “Star Wars” event was like, from quiet start to explosive finish.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Saturday, brand new footage from the highly anticipated movie “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” premiered inside of “Fortnite,” one of the world’s most popular video games. This comes less than a week before the movie’s release in the US, on December 20.

Players who logged in at about 2 p.m. EST on Saturday all gathered at a single point on the game’s map — an area called “Risky Reels” — to hear a speech from director J.J. Abrams, as well as watch a sneak preview of the upcoming movie. While the event was going on, every player in-game saw and heard the same things, no matter where they were or who they were playing with.

This isn’t “Fortnite’s” first live whole-game event: Back in February, millions of players logged in to watch a live concert by EDM star Marshmello. This isn’t even “Fortnite’s” first movie promotion, considering it’s advertised for films like “John Wick” and “The Avengers” in the past.

But this is first time a movie studio has used the game to share footage that can’t be seen anywhere else, and considering how many people logged on to watch, it likely won’t be the last.

Although I’ve always been a big fan of these live events, I’ve admittedly never been able to attend one — before now. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, I logged into “Fortnite” to see what the game had planned for their highest profile event yet.

Here’s what “Fortnite’s” explosive “Star Wars” event was like, from start to finish.

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First of all, just getting into the game was a challenge. In the hour leading up to the event, the “Fortnite” servers crashed under the heavy load of players trying to log in. Many took to the event’s official Twitch stream to voice their frustration… with memes and emotes.

It took me seven tries to log in, but once I did, I was greeted by this loading screen. While the loading screens in “Fortnite” usually give you tips to better dominate other players, this time, it just told me to have fun.

I dropped into the game with a new glider, styled after the evil Empire’s TIE Fighter ships in “Star Wars.” You usually have to pay for new glider designs, but everyone who participated in the event got this one for free.

Everyone in my game flew into Risky Reels to settle in for the show. We’d just gotten an announcement that the event would be pushed back 10 minutes to give everyone a chance to log on, so I figured we’d be in for a wait.

In the leadup to the event, the game disabled all of our weapons, meaning that we couldn’t hurt each other. And anyone who’s played “Fortnite” even once knows what happens when a bunch of players that can’t attack get together: endless dancing and posing.

Some people breakdanced…

…while others built towers to get a better view of whatever was about to happen.

Nearly 15 minutes past when the event was supposed to begin, and things were still quiet. I was about to put the game down to grab a drink when a familiar score began playing, the platform in the center of Risky Reels rose into the sky, and the iconic Millennium Falcon flew onto the screen.

It wasn’t alone. In seconds, nearly a dozen Star Destroyers popped out of hyperspeed into the atmosphere above us.

Six TIE Fighters flew down and began chasing after the Millennium Falcon. Speeding lasers and explosions rocked the area around us as the ships battled.

The Millennium Falcon managed to destroy all the TIE Fighters, blowing them to bits…

…and sending the wreckage falling to the ground.

A few moments later, with the Star Destroyers still lurking, we were blown off the pad and the Millennium Falcon landed in front of us.

A hologram appeared in front of the Falcon, and began speaking to us. It was Geoff Keighley, host of The Game Awards and the MC for this event. He was accompanied by a Stormtrooper, FN-0143, who was voiced by comedian Ben Schwartz. They both brought a mysterious box with them.

The two chatted a bit about the incoming trailer and the game before introducing the day’s true guest of honor: “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams. Or, at least, a low-poly avatar of J.J. Abrams.

Abrams thanked us all for coming, and raved at how amazing it was to interact with us like this. Keighley noted that they were speaking to us live, and that this sort of event was “unprecedented.” FN-0143, meanwhile, just marveled over how tight the pants on Abrams’ avatar looked.

As a display of how creative these sort of in-game events could be, Keighley changed Abrams’ avatar into a girl. I’m not sure that anyone in the crowd knew how to react.

Keighley asked Abrams what we could expect from “The Rise of Starwalker.” Abrams answered by saying that the most exciting part of the movie is the group dynamic between Rey, Finn, and Poe. “It’s the group on an adventure together,” he said, “and it’s full of crazy action, comedy, and surprises.”

Once Abrams changed back, we were presented with the first activity of the evening. A multiple choice quiz was displayed and Abrams asked us to guess what the sneak preview scene would be about: “Darth Jar Jar,” a “Jedi Mind Trick,” the “Knights of Ren,” or a “Rey & Kylo Power Ballad.” I voted for a Jedi Mind Trick.

And I was right!

The trailer began. It showed Rey, Finn, and Poe taking down some Stormtroopers and invading an enemy ship. We watched it on a massive hologram screen above the stage, almost like a futuristic drive-in theater.

As the clip went on, we saw Rey use a Jedi Mind Trick on three Stormtroopers to convince them to trust her. The clip was about 30 seconds, in total.

Once it ended, Geoff Keighley and FN-0143 cheered. Keighley asked us to dance to show what we thought of the clip — Abrams even joined in, his avatar wiggling like a worm on stage. I’m definitely using this as an excuse to say I danced with J.J. Abrams.

Keighley thanked J.J. Abrams for appearing, and said that he hoped to see the director again soon — “Hopefully inside of Fortnite.” Abrams then sprinted away, back into the Millennium Falcon.

Before they left, Keighley wanted to ask us one more question, and it was an important one: what’s our favorite Lightsaber color? Red, purple, green, or blue?

I answered purple because, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Mace Windu?

But before we could see the results, another group of TIE Fighters appeared and blew us off the voting pads. The Millennium Falcon lifted off into the sky and flew away, leading the TIE Fighters away from us.

Suddenly, we were hit by a slow motion effect, like the game had been turned to molasses. The eerie, menacing voice of the evil Emperor Palpatine — the villain of “The Rise of Skywalker” — filled our ears. It was the “day of revenge,” he hissed. “The day of the Sith.”

As soon as it appeared, the voice faded. The Star Destroyers above us zipped back into hyperspace, and it became daytime once again.

The mysterious box that Keighley and FN-0143 had brought onto the stage opened with a blast of golden light. We all ran towards it.

Lo and behold, inside the box were Lightsabers, each one in the color we had said was our favorite!

The game then morphed into a normal first-to-100 deathmatch, with Lightsabers as our only weapons. While my teammates fought, however, I went to explore the map, and see where the destroyed TIE Fighters had fallen.

All in all, this event was a blast — literally and figuratively. I can’t wait to see what “Fortnite” picks as its next live event.

Thanks to IGN for some of the pictures included in this article.