The new season of Fortnite’s second chapter finally landed last week, shaking up a reimagined map that burst dramatically out of a black hole in the game last year. Over the weekend, we scoped out what’s changed in a game now sprinkled with secret agents, laser beams and all manner of things dipped in gold. Happily, we can report that Epic returns the game to its true colors in season 2, with some innovative ideas that deepen the game for casual players.
The black hole event and subsequent total map makeover were exciting at the time, but as the months ticked by, Epic’s decision to pare down the game’s excesses left the game feeling bare. In season 2, Epic piles a lot of new ideas onto the game’s foundation, and the game feels weirder and more chaotic with a map that’s much more alive as a result. And bananas in suits. Did we mention bananas in suits?
In season 2, Fortnite takes its most committed stab yet at a coherent theme, with spies, secret societies, dapper bananas, bulky henchmen and… a really swole cat for some reason. It’s a fun vibe and well-executed so far. That theme plays out everywhere, from a revamped battle pass menu designed as a spy headquarters to some very dynamic new high-risk/high-reward map hotspots chock full of special new weapons, locked vaults and laser beams.
Even better, the new locations are stocked with NPC versions of the boss-like characters the season introduces us to right off the bat, making for a fun and reasonably challenging way to mix up gameplay when you need a break from the sometimes lonely intensity of battle royale play.
The new season keeps the old map mostly intact while adding five main new locations, all heavily guarded, loot-rich fortresses. That means a new point of interest near each corner of the map, and one right on the central island (a spot inevitably destined for something more interesting than a suburban home). The rest of the map doesn’t have many visual changes, but a handful of smaller, old locations scattered around the map have been co-opted by spy organizations and staffed with henchmen, which makes for a chaotic surprise when you come across them in the heat of gameplay. Even Pleasant Park has its own underground spy hub now.
Down the line, the new season will also introduce two competing factions for players to join, Ghost and Shadow. Depending on which faction you choose, players can unlock some pretty cool variants on battle pass skins, including Meowscles, a shirtless, muscle-bound catman with a pec-flexing animation that might be the best thing to ever happen to Fortnite. Well, except for the new teleporting port-a-potties. You’ll find those soon enough.
As far as changes that will affect gameplay, there are many, many unvaulted weapons mixing things up relative to last season’s stripped-down arsenal. Traps are gone, chests no longer shower you with fishing rods (thankfully) and heavy assault rifles and all manner of silenced guns have made a comeback. And if you really want to be treated to the best weapons in the game, you can raid one of the five new spy headquarters to take down bosses, including an explosive-happy rocker named TNTina, a sharply dressed guy calling himself Midas and Meowscles (oh Meowscles!), who hangs out on his own gigantic, laser-guarded yacht.
As you work through the battle pass, you’ll also unlock these boss characters as skins. It’s a fun way to drape some light narrative over a game loved mostly for its incoherent total cartoon chaos rather than a character-centric light and fluffy multiplayer shooter like Overwatch. And because Epic is tasked with the impossible — maintaining momentum on a game with such historic success it basically became a mainstream social network at its peak — carving out a deeper game under Fortnite’s candy-colored shell can’t hurt.