Fortnite: Season 9 ushers in a new future in scenery, gear, and weapons

Fortnite’s ninth content season has officially begun, ushering in yet another revamp which mainly affects the game’s battle royale component. Thanks to a recent in-game event, the battle royale map has been permanently altered much like it was for previous seasons. The start of this new season also means a new season-long battle pass, a unique seasonal theme, and, of course, plenty of new rewards to earn.

Below, we’ll explain how Fortnite’s battle royale mode and map have been tweaked for season 9 as well as what the season’s major gameplay highlights are.

Calm Before The Storm

As with previous Fortnite seasons, Epic heralded the coming of season 9 with a special one-time in-game event. Players who were present in the event’s unique playlist during the appointed time got to witness the opening of the large mysterious vault at the center of Loot Lake.

When they dove into the vault, players were then teleported to a mysterious dream-like area containing a large ominous-looking energy orb, a desk, and six tall pillars. Players were unable to hurt each other in this new area, and they soon noticed that each of the six pillars had an image on it. These images showed specific items which had once been part of Fortnite’s battle royale mode but had since been “vaulted” (i.e. removed) like the Tactical SMG weapon and the X-4 Stormwing airplane.

Players also quickly discovered that they could damage and destroy these pillars with their pickaxes, and they (correctly) reasoned that Epic was essentially allowing them to pick which item they wanted to return. It’s not totally clear how Epic determined the results of the destroyed pillars across multiple event instances, but apparently the Drum Gun weapon ultimately won out since it has since started showing up in battle royale matches.

After the pillar was destroyed, players were launched back out onto the battle royale map to witness the event’s second major happening. The volcano which had first sprung up at the beginning of season 8 erupted, causing great balls of flaming rock to rain down from the sky. These flaming missiles utterly obliterated the Tilted Towers location, and Retail Row was heavily damaged as well. Greasy Grove and Polar Peak were also pelted a bit, but they’re still mostly intact.

Unfortunately, technical issues also plagued the vault opening event playlist, which meant that some players who had queued up didn’t get to witness the event before it was over. To make amends, Epic announced via Twitter that it would be awarding the Aracana Glider item to all players who queued into the playlist regardless of whether they saw the event or not. Players who already own the Aracana Glider will instead be refunded the V-Bucks they paid for it:

Epic also released a replay file of the entire event which users can download and view within the Fortnite client.

Season 9 Highlights

Fortnite’s ninth season is all about the future, at least when it comes to the season’s aesthetic. New futuristic map locations, challenges, and, of course, cosmetics make up the new season’s overall theme. And as usual, players who want to fully reap the benefits of season 9’s new features can purchase a new season-long battle pass for 950 V-Bucks (Fortnite’s premium currency).

When it comes to Fortnite’s battle royale map, the previously mentioned volcanic destruction has segued into a total rebuild for both Tilted Towers and Retail Row. Tilted Towers is now a sleek, vibrant cityscape called Neo Tilted. Retail Row has also been expanded into the much cleaner-looking Mega Mall. Lastly, a new Pressure Plant named location now sits on top of the volcano in the northeastern part of the map.

As for the new cosmetics, they all have a suitably futuristic theme as well. Similar to past seasons, players can earn new avatar skins, emotes, toys, decals, loading screens, and more by playing battle royale matches and completing challenges. Players who want to unlock the full gamut of rewards and challenges can upgrade from the standard battle pass to the premium battle pass for a one-time deposit of 950 V-Bucks (roughly $10 for those buying V-Bucks via microtransactions).

Merely purchasing the season 9 premium battle pass unlocks two unique avatar skins: Sentinel and Rox, both of which can be upgraded via skin-specific style challenges. If a player puts in the time and effort to reach the premium pass’s 100th tier, they’ll unlock the slick-looking Vendetta skin which includes its own upgrade challenge path.

The above battle pass overview trailer briefly touches on minor (yet still notable) season 9 additions such as Slipstreams, new wind tunnels that players can use to quickly traverse the battle royale map. It also looks like there’s a new series of dual-wield pickaxes joining the standard two-handed type. In fact, the Rox skin comes with one of these new dual-wield pickaxes, the Harmonic Axes, as part of her style unlock challenge track.

Fortbyte Challenges

Along with the usual daily, weekly, and style challenges, season 9 also comes with a unique series of ‘Fortbyte’ challenges. There are 100 of these Fortbyte challenges in total, and the methodology for unlocking them varies depending on which specific Fortbyte you’re chasing.

Some Fortbytes are found in the battle royale map itself while others are earned by completing specific tasks. Each Fortbyte a player collects unlocks a small piece of a larger image, but it looks like the Fortbytes also operate on a gradual unlock timer. This is likely so that dedicated players can’t just rush out and unlock all 100 in a day or two.

Fortnite’s ninth season is live on all platforms as of this writing. There’s only one week’s worth of weekly challenges available for now, but more challenges will open up over the coming weeks, making now a great time to get in on the action. You can find the full patch notes for the initial season 9 game update here.