So, maybe you’ve just gotten into the Fortnite: Battle Royale craze, but you’re confounded as to why other players get to run around looking like John Wick flying around with a Space Shuttle when you’re stuck in a generic military outfit with just a beanie and an umbrella. All of your fellow players look way cooler than you because they went ahead and sunk $10 into buying a Premium Battle Pass. What does that even mean? How do you get one of those? And is it worth it?

Fortnite’s Battle Pass system is a fairly novel and totally efficient way for developer Epic Games to make a lot of money, despite promises that it will remain free-to-play even after it finishes its Early Access period. If you do want to spend money on Fortnite, you’ll either do so on buying cosmetic items outright that make your player avatar look cool or you’ll spend it on that Premium Battle Pass.

The Premium Battle Pass — usually just called “The Battle Pass” — gives you access to seven in-game Challenges each week along with a fruitful leveling system that can earn you tons of in-game cosmetic rewards. (The regular Battle Pass is free for everyone, but has far fewer Challenges.)

'Fortnite' Raven Skin
The Raven Skin in 'Fortnite' was a very cool limited-time purchasable cosmetic.

Perhaps the best bonus perk of the Premium Battle Pass: Embarking on this path is probably the most efficient way for you to actually get legitimately good at Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The more specific goal-oriented approach of the many Challenges forces you to explore the game’s various locations, weapons, and systems. You’ll get loads of practical experience, and when you go in blindly trying to Loot Chests in a specific named location, it takes so much of the edge off the experience of being hunted by 99 other players in a space that’s getting smaller every few minutes. You might get a chest or two, die, and then try again. Eventually, you’ll get a few kills, gain more experience, and before you know it you’re leveling up like a champ.

So you might as well shuffle over to the Item Shop and explore your options:

Here's what the Item Shop looks like after you buy a Premium Battle Pass in 'Fortnite: Battle Royale'.
Here's what the Item Shop looks like after you buy a Premium Battle Pass in 'Fortnite: Battle Royale'.

If you don’t already have the Premium Battle Pass, indicated by a gold star medallion, then it’ll get prominent placement when you go to your Item Shop. (Epic Games really wants you to buy one, so it should never be hard to find.) To buy it, you’ll need 1,000 V-Bucks, the in-game currency for Fortnite: Battle Royale.

The easy way to think about the conversion between V-Buck and the USD is that every V-Buck is worth a penny, plain and simple. As such, you can get 1,000 V-Bucks for $9.99. But spending more gets you a small bonus of extra V-Bucks: You can get 13,500 V-Bucks for $99.99. These prices are important to note because a Premium Battle Pass costs 1,000 V-Bucks — $10 — but you can also just get V-Bucks naturally by playing and completing various Challenges.

Fortnite already has a number of Daily Challenges that get you experience and Battle Stars to level up your regular Battle Pass. In theory, you could probably play enough that you’d eventually earn enough V-Bucks to buy a Premium Battle Pass without spending any real dollars, but already having a Premium Battle Pass makes it so much easier to earn V-Bucks. It’s intentionally a bit confusing, but do you see the catch?

Leveling up your Battle Passes involves completing Challenges to get Stars to unlock Tiers in 'Fortnite'.
Leveling up your Battle Passes involves completing Challenges to get Stars to unlock Tiers in 'Fortnite'.

There’s another huge catch too: Buying a Premium Battle Pass is only effective for a single 10 week-long season, so you’ll have to buy a new one every two and a half months. That makes Fortnite: Battle Royale kind of like a free game that has a $4 monthly subscription fee.

But because completing Challenges — Daily or Weekly — advances your Battle Passes to unlock new cosmetic items and more V-Bucks, if you play enough with a Premium Battle Pass, you’ll eventually unlock enough V-Bucks each Season to buy next Season’s Pass. Assuming you don’t spend all that digital currency on random cosmetic items.

Considering that the base game will forever be free — and that you can earn V-Bucks back to buy more Premium Battle Passes for future Seasons — then spending the $10 upfront is totally worth it if you’re even remotely into playing Fortnite: Battle Royale.

What do you have to lose other than hundreds of hours from your life spent playing this wonderfully addictive video game?