For two years now, Fortnite’s ever-changing battle royale island has been a place where millions of people gather to play. Over that time it’s grown and become increasingly dense, layered with its own kind of history. Now, that map is completely gone: developer Epic has rebooted Fortnite with an all-new Chapter 2, which introduces a brand-new location to explore.
The new island looks wilder and more untamed than its predecessor, with plenty of forests, mountains, and lakes to explore, but much fewer city or urban locales. It’s different, but the abundance of green will likely remind long-time players of the early days of Fortnite. This will likely change as the battle royale island continues to evolve through updates and new seasons, however. And the familiar flying battle bus is still there to carry you into battle.
Chapter 2 notably introduces new gameplay features, including fishing, swimming, and new vehicles to utilize like boats and... pogo sticks. There are also new multiplayer emotes that let you co-ordinate dances with friends. New weapons include a common variant of the rocket launcher, and a brand-new semi-automatic pistol, and you’re also able to better hide now, ducking in haystacks or dumpsters.
As always, there’s a new subscription battle pass that players can pay for to earn bonuses like character skins, the highlight of which is an adorable blue blob creature. The battle pass also works slightly different compared to past seasons. Progression has been changed so that you can earn experience from doing more things, including getting kills or even just opening chests. It costs 950 V-Bucks and you’re able to earn an additional 1,500 from completing goals.
It was a slightly bumpy transition between seasons. This morning, just after 4AM ET, with tens of thousands of people following along on Twitch, Fortnite suddenly went down for maintenance. The game’s official Twitter account returned to normal and a large update was available for the game, but it wasn’t immediately playable. Players who tried to log in were greeted with a “servers not responding” warning. The new chapter finally went live close to two hours later.
Prior to today’s reveal Fortnite was subject to a dramatic and lengthy in-game event that saw the original island destroyed, apparently sucked into a black hole. The game was then down for nearly two days as players could do nothing more than simply stare at the black hole, which showed little signs of life, aside from curiously revealing various numbers. A leaked trailer provided the only real hint at what to expect. Epic gave no sign as to when the game might return.
The game’s new chapter was preceded by Fortnite season X, which launched at the beginning of August, right after the inaugural Fortnite World Cup and exhilarating mech vs. kaiju battle. The season proved controversial almost from the beginning, thanks to the addition of all-powerful mechs called B.R.U.T.E.S, which were eventually dramatically weakened after a vocal outcry from players.
Season X also introduced “rift zones,” unstable areas that had their own distinct rules and even visual styles; there were even some based on other properties like Borderlands and Batman. For some players, though, the speed of the updates were almost too fast, making it hard to keep up with the changes. But in the wake of chapter 2, the constant and significant changes now make a lot more sense.