It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… crack?
A little over three months ago a comet appeared in Fortnite’s skies. The comet appeared with little to no acknowledgement from Epic Games but what followed was an exciting introduction Fortnite’s 4th Season which, as you’ll know by now, is a heroes/villains theme. Theory discussions about the comet’s purpose brought an incredible buzz to the game but it wasn’t until Season 4 began that we finally got to see whether any of these came to fruition. Now, three months on, something big has happened in Fortnite. Something that may change the game forever.
In the wake of the Comet
Season 4 opened with the meteor (nee comet) striking the map, making way for the map’s first evolution. Dusty Depot met the full brunt of the meteor’s force leaving Dusty Divot – a large crater which housed the space rock – in its wake. Fragments of the meteor peppered the surrounding areas, carving smaller craters filled with hop rocks and loot. The prison neighbouring Moisty Mire was destroyed, Motel’s sign damaged and a new named location – Risky Reels cropped up in the north-east corner of the map.
The mini-apocalypse served as a great device to change Fortnite’s map in a way that kept it familiar yet injected enough variety to thwart any creeping sense of staleness. But the map wasn’t the only change to Fornite during Season 4. Epic has a great way of drip-feeding content at weekly intervals and Season 4 was no different. Over the months limited time game modes and brand-new weapons released for free. We also finally got our hands on Playground Mode – a 60-minute jolly where you could build to your heart’s content.
Hop rocks were brought into the game as consumable items which, when picked up, allowed you to jump higher. Other consumables such as apples and mushrooms were also introduced mid-season. Picking these up gave a small increase of 5 health or shield. These changes, amongst a few others, has seen Fortnite evolve as a game during the 4th season and the result is a more robust and enjoyable experience (if you don’t pick up a shotgun). But the one thing that stood out amongst this content was the collection of unlockable loading screens.
A story between plays
Okay, loading screens aren’t the most exciting thing to unlock but these were different. Once you completed all the challenges for a week you’d unlock a loading screen. It was soon discovered that each contained a hidden message. Eagle-eyed gamers spotted ghosts of Battlestars (1 Battle Pass Rank) in the background of the artwork and sure enough if you headed to that area in the game you’d snag yourself an easy rank. Now, this was great as it helped players creep closer to the level 100 cap but they also diverted our attention away from the content of the loading screen.
As the weeks went by it was clear that these loading screens were actually telling a story – the story of Season 4. The first loading screen showed cast members recording a horror film on the new studio in Moisty Mire. In the background, you could see a fragment of the meteor strike one of the prison’s watchtowers. The second screen showed Omega – the antagonist of the superhero/villain theme. The meteor fragment had destroyed the prison, allowing Omega to escape.
The third showed the heroes locating Omega’s whereabouts on a hologram of Fortnite’s map. The fourth showed Omega inside the villain’s lair – another new area of the map that’s carved into a mountain on the west side of the map. It’s here where we discover that Omega has created an army of soldiers. The fifth depicted the climactic showdown between the superheroes and villains with Carbide and Omega taking front and center in the fight. The sixth then pulled the rug from beneath us, showing the cast of heroes and villains on set, relaxing with a cup of tea. The description of the loading screen reads “Director’s Notes: ‘What a crazy shoot! Those meteors that crashed down sure gave us a lot of extra free production value! Glad we survived it!’”
So, after 5 weeks, it turned out that the whole superhero/villain arc was, in fact, the recording of a film, and it was obvious from the get-go. From the beginning of the Season 4, there was an obsession with film cameras. You could find many cameras dotted around the map and there was even a challenge to dance in front of 7 seven of them. Green screens had also popped up in quite a few locations and the large movie-set in Moisty Mires should have triggered alarm bells. But what did this mean for the meteor?
The meteor was real, as noted by the director of the superhero film, and it actually made true of some of the theories thrown around at the end of Season 3. A popular theory was that the comet was in fact a vessel bringing a life form to Fortnite’s world. As chance would have it, week 7 had a loading screen alongside a new character skin, if you’d completed all challenges prior. In the seventh screen, you could see the new character – The Visitor – emerging from a pod which was housed in the center of the meteor.
Up until this moment I was feeling a little disappointed. It was only in retrospect that I realised the loading screens were telling a story, mainly because I’d not played much by this point. And by this time last season, the comet was growing in size, as was the buzz surrounding Season 3’s endgame. But during this season nothing noticeable was happening. In fact, the only thing that had changed up until this point was the filling in of the smaller craters and the greenery returning to Dusty Divot’s barren pit. Then things started to happen following the literal wake of The Visitor.
A red skull appeared on TVs throughout the map. The TVs also played a part in lead-up to the end of Season 3 when a warning message appeared alerting residents of the impending comet collision. The skull bore an incredible resemblance to the villain’s lair situated near Snobby Shores which lead people to suspect that something was awry with the rocket housed there. A few days later, the TV changed to a countdown which was ticking away to Saturday 20th June. The eighth and final loading screen added further fuel to the hype training, showing The Visitor arming the rocket in the villain’s lair. It was a certainty that the countdown was marking the launch of this rocket and The Visitor was going to push the button. The eighth loading screening was entitled – Retrofit – Modifications required… which makes it sound like this was a prop for the film which was being repurposed into a bonafide weapon of mass destruction. It didn’t take much but these tiny hints at something were starting to cause a buzz again.
Unlike Fortnite’s comet, the rocket launch was going to be a live event and sure enough, thousands of players jumped into the game to witness it first hand. Players laid down their weapons during the final minutes of the countdown, working together to build viewing platforms for the event. The clock struck zero and it began.
A roar could be heard from the launch pad situated within the villain’s lair. Flames erupted from the base of the rocket filling the lair with smoke. Before too long a pillar of smoke was towering over the map as the rocket launched into the atmosphere. The thrusters then detached, returning to orbit and crash landing into Anarchy Acres. Then, as the rocket met peak velocity, it fired targeting lasers and they were affixed on Titled Towers.
The rocket hurtled down towards the now acquired target – Tilted. It was finally going to destroy the infamous city, something that most thought would have seen its demise to the hands of the meteor. But something happened. As the rocket neared its target a portal appeared and enveloped the rocket. An electrical explosion and what looked like broken shards of glass were left in its absence. Before anyone could process what had happened, a new portal opened up on the east side of the map. The rocket broke free of the portal and began hurtling around the map. At this point, it looked out of control and had little semblance of the finesse of the initial launch. After the rocket did a hurried sweep of the map it then got absorbed by another portal. All of a sudden a portal opened above Loot Lake and the rocket broke free for the skies. As it hurled its way to the sky an almighty explosion was felt throughout the map. The rocket was gone and all that was left was a giant crack in the sky.
The crack has since been looming over Fortnite’s map, ever-growing in size and emanating a low hum when you focus your crosshair upon it. Branches of the crack have been forming on the edges and the overall effect looks like a shattered window pane, slowly splintering until its final shatter. Could the rift bring upon the apocalypse or will it cast us on a journey through time and space?
The future, the past and the present
I dunno, but the immediate reaction is that the rocket has broken the space-time continuum. Leaked game files have references to time travel which further instantiate this claim. Smaller rifts have also been found around the map and they too are growing in size. They’re even absorbing assets from the game. The Motel sign was the first to disappear with Tomato Man shortly following. The Durrr Burger atop of Greasy Grove’s restaurant also disappeared but this one was different as it wound up somewhere in the desert IRL.
Players flocked to the location once it was common knowledge and were met by ‘The Agent’ who gave them a telephone number to call. The sound on the phone was similar to the rift sound effect in the game but eventually changed to something different. It wasn’t long before the sound was run through a spectrogram, revealing a string of text which, when translated, read C7. C7 just so happens to be the coordinates of the Durrr Burger in Greasy Grove. The agent also dropped a book during a live Instagram video and eagle-eyed viewers noticed that certain letters were circled. When read from left to right, top to bottom it spelt out ‘Nothing’. Could this be a massive red herring? At the time of writing this, there hasn’t been a definitive answer but the Durrr Burger isn’t the only prop to make its way into our world. Loot Llamas have also been cropping up across the globe and whilst they serve little purpose, other than to look good, it plays into a multiverse theory with the rifts acting as portals to other worlds.
It’s not just things disappearing from Fornite’s map either. The mini rifts that have absorbed parts of the map have also been ejecting items into the game. An anchor appeared on one of the game’s hills followed by an old wooden carriage and more recently an animal skeleton in Moisty Mire. It’s almost a certainty that the large rift will be used as a device to evolve the map once more but how will remain to be seen. A theory I’m quite keen on is that the rift will pull in past and future versions of named locations. Maybe the prison will become a medieval castle? One of the farms a Western town? Epic hasn’t shied away from releasing historic skins, the 2nd season was focused on Knights, but if Season 5 is focussed on a time-travelling multiverse the option for Battle Pass unlocks will be untamed.
But what of The Visitor? They instantiated this whole mess but was it intentional? There’s a theory on Reddit that I’m personally quite fond of. You can read it here but to summarise. The Visitor is from the future and fashioned the movie prop rocket into a time machine to take them back to where they came from. The rocket launch was largely successful but ended up tearing a hole in the space-time continuum on its final thrust out of the atmosphere. The Vistor wasn’t a malicious character, they simply wanted to go home.
Regardless of whether you believe either theory you can’t deny the fact that this is another great play by Epic. You wouldn’t expect such discussions about lore in a Battle Royale game mode but here I am talking about multiverses, time travel and visitors from outer space. The hype surrounding the comet in Season 3 laid the groundworks for what appears to be a new release tactic for Fortnite’s upcoming Season launches. This time around, however, anything can happen and the whole rocket launch has done everything to pique my interest for Season 5’s release. And, as with last season, we’re still none the wiser as to what Season 5 has in store for us, save for a few images released by Fortnite on social media.