In the event you had been to drop onto Fortnite’s island proper now, for the very first time, you’d most likely be very confused. There may be lots occurring. Within the southwest you’ll discover an arctic space, full with an historic citadel nonetheless partly buried within the snow. A little bit methods north is a futuristic cityscape, which sits just under the stays of a lake that’s now dwelling to an alien vault. Spend a bit extra time exploring and also you’ll discover a dormant volcano changed into an influence plant, a pirate ship sitting in a picturesque lagoon, an historic metropolis nestled inside a dense jungle, and floating platforms hovering excessive within the air.

It’s a multitude of inspirations and concepts, with seemingly no central theme holding all of it collectively. However that’s additionally what makes it work. Since Epic’s battle royale map launched in 2017, it’s been topic to large, world-changing occasions and 9 new seasons of content material. With every change, every little addition, the island grows extra dense and layered. It turns into extra actual. A brand new participant may see one thing complicated and chaotic, however I see a digital world wealthy with its personal historical past.

To get a way of simply how a lot has modified, check out the slider beneath, which compares Fortnite’s island from its huge replace in November 2017 with the newest model from the launch of season 9 this week.

Fortnite’s island is a digital world layered with historical past 1

That inexperienced map is barely recognizable right this moment. Even the areas that stay from the older model of the island have modified. Loot Lake was as soon as a easy physique of water, however now it’s dwelling to all method of mysterious services, whereas Shifty Shafts and its intricate tunnel system at the moment are largely blanketed in snow. Different areas are gone altogether. Moisty Mire skilled a drought and changed into a desert, whereas Tilted Towers was fully destroyed and rebuilt as a cyberpunk metropolis after the volcano erupted.

These modifications have, for essentially the most half, been gradual. With every new season comes a brand new theme. In season 7, an iceberg crashed into the island creating the arctic area, whereas final season’s pirate theme meant the addition of a lagoon, jungle, and volcano. Giant-scale, in-game occasions equally impacted the island. There are nonetheless fissures within the floor from February’s earthquakes, and huge craters, now lined in grass, from when undead creatures swarmed. In the event you search for on the sky, you possibly can nonetheless see the crack from the rocket launch.

There are numerous causes for these modifications. Some are associated to gameplay; Loot Lake was at all times a slog to get by means of in its authentic incarnation, which is probably going why it’s seen such dramatic modifications. Different updates, just like the frozen citadel, are a part of Fortnite’s distinctive model of storytelling. Some contain the group: when developer Epic needed to see which basic merchandise gamers needed to convey again to the sport, it engineered a prolonged thriller centered on the unearthed alien vault.


However regardless of the motive, every of those modifications has turn out to be part of Fortnite’s historical past. In fact, Fortnite isn’t the one recreation to obtain common updates and new options. (Although it does replace at an extremely quick fee — which is extraordinarily problematic for these folks constructing the sport.) What makes Fortnite distinctive is that you simply don’t simply see these modifications in patch notes launched by the developer. They’re a key a part of the world itself, and also you see them each time you enterprise by means of the island.

It’s inconceivable to pinpoint the precise motive Fortnite has turn out to be such a phenomenon. It’s possible a mixture of accessibility, design, timing, and presentation. However no matter it’s, Fortnite’s island has turn out to be a digital place the place tens of thousands and thousands of individuals hang around every single day. With every new layer of historical past that’s added, it feels that rather more actual. Positive, it’s a ridiculous place with holographic burger indicators and banana fits and a wind tunnel transportation system. However once you spend sufficient time in it, the island turns into an extremely acquainted place, and one with a shared historical past among the many recreation’s group.

In the identical method that I consider the sadly closed French restaurant that used to exist the place my favourite espresso place is now, I can’t assist however keep in mind issues that occurred in Fortnite once I play battle royale. And given the speedy tempo of change within the recreation, my thoughts lingers on the previous as a lot because it questions what is going to occur sooner or later.

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