The latest season of Fortnite is now live, introducing a major new volcano area, as well as a host of pirate-themed locations and features.
Season 8 kicked off early on Thursday morning with the arrival of a gigantic volcano in the north east of the island, spewing lava along various large channels. This fiery liquid dishes out damage to players who step in it, providing a new environmental hazard.
There are also various thermal vents around the mountain, and in the mouth of the volcano itself, which send players soaring into the air – allowing for quick getaways. A network of swooping rope slides down the sides of the volcano are also set to aid in player movement – an important addition as two other transport options, the shopping trolley and the X-4 Stormwing, have been removed for the time being.
Nearby, a new Lazy Lagoon area features a vast lake dotted with islands and an explorable pirate ship, which is loaded with loot chests. To the east is Sunny Steps, an Aztec-themed temple complex clinging to the sides of the volcano, offering some claustrophobic corridors to race through in order to reach treasure rooms.
The most visible new weapon is the cannon, which will fire both cannon balls and players large distances, providing both destruction and transportation benefits. It’s a feature that will remind many of multiplayer online game Sea of Thieves, which also lets players shoot themselves from cannons. Indeed, a lot of the new pirate-themed items and areas bare a close resemblance to Rare’s title, especially the pirate ship itself, which features a captain’s cabin, complete with treasure map.
Further additions are sure to be discovered as players explore further. A series of teaser tweets issued just before the update hinted that the dragon eggs dotted around the island may well be about to hatch – it’s possible players will find themselves flying around on dragons at some point in the next two months. The new season also comes with 100 new emotes and skins, including ninja and pirate costumes as well as more comedic options such as a banana outfit.
The new season also has a Party Assist feature, which allows daily and weekly challenges to be completed with the help of everyone in your party. In a recent AMA session on Reddit, the Fortnite team hinted that it would be adding more features to assist in developing squad-based tactics – an idea no doubt designed to compete with battle royale newcomer Apex Legends, which boasts much more intuitive non-verbal communication in the form of its Ping contextual commands system.
It’s a fairly major update then, with lots of new gameplay features and possibilities and interesting story elements to discover. But with increased competition from Apex Legends, which already boasts 25m players, Epic Games will have to continue its punishing production line of additions and amendments.
Fortnite Battle Royale is now 18 months old – an eon in the world of online multiplayer gaming. The industry will be watching closely to see if this volcano will cause enough of an explosion to keep players – and, crucially, high-profile YouTubers and Twitch streamers – playing along.