Fortnite is weird again – and I couldn't be happier. The last season of the game was finally launched yesterday and at least on the surface it seems to be a standard update. It has a new secret agent theme with enemy factions and lots of new stealth gameplay options. However, if you look beyond the tailored suits, you will find something even more remarkable: Fortnite's quirky personality is back in full swing.
That was badly lacking last season. When Fortnite launched its ambitious restart to Chapter 2 in September of last year, it initially felt exciting. Everything was new again. But this initial excitement finally subsided.
The first season was long – six months or twice as long as a standard Fortnite season – and without many of the frequent changes and updates that long-time fans had expected. It felt like a full 180 from Season X, which admittedly changed things a little too much. Aside from some exciting moments like the introduction of lightsabers, the new chapter was mostly boring. If I took a week off, I didn't miss much, if anything.
Season 1 was a solid, if not particularly exciting, foundation, and Epic has managed to build on it in an exciting way. The whole espionage topic is not just cosmetic. The map now houses several locations with armed guards and lots of loot that add a whole new level to the experience. You can infiltrate a base, steal a key card, and open a vault for some of the best equipment in the game. There are characters and missions, and you can even wear disguise. And I have to add that you do all of this while playing a Battle Royale game vying for the coveted win with 99 other human players. And you can do it disguised as a banana in a tuxedo. It is wild.
What the new season adds is a dose of the unexpected. The new armed guard characters are smarter than any of the NPCs I've faced in Fortnite before. coordinated in a way that you can easily throw out of the game if you're not careful. It adds a dynamic element when you land in certain locations, especially in the big new fortress that was built in the middle of the map. There are also new improvements that are just silly fun, like cardboard boxes to hide or gliders that you can ride around like bouncing cuddly toys.
"I often think of dramatic steps like volume."
Even the menu is cool. It has a reasonable secret agent mood with a huge table surrounded by special agents and other elements hidden in vaults. There is a secret location where Deadpool's new challenges are, which will continue to be included in the cast at an unknown point in the future.
One of my favorite supplements is my choice. Many of the new character skins can be customized in some way. You can choose a light or dark theme based on one of the factions, and a character named Maya has several customization options. However, when you make a choice, it is permanent and forces you to really think about how these characters should look. It's not the kind of decision I'm used to at Fortnite.
Given the scale of the black hole event that led to Fortnite's big restart in Chapter 2, it may come as no surprise that Epic played a little safe during the first season. In fact, the choice appears to be intentional. "I often think of a dramatic pace like volume," Donald Mustard, creative director of Fortnite, tweeted shortly before the new season on Wednesday. “For some stories, you're working on slowly cranking it up as loud as possible so that when you roll back to zero you feel the full effect of both extremes. If the "new volume" feels normal, select it again. "
At least so far this has been the case. After last season, the new update feels refreshing and exciting – and like a return to what Fortnite is so much fun about.