The internet is in meltdown as the new season of Fortnite launches. As we’ve come to expect, Fortnite Season 6 comes loaded with a host of changes that dramatically shift the iconic battle royale experience. Some are obvious, others subtle. Are the big changes in Fortnite Season 6 good or bad? And what impact do they have on play? Let’s discuss…
For those new to the experience – adding their weight to the 150 million players worldwide already fighting for survival – Fortnite Battle Royale rolls in a ten-week cycle. During this time, players are empowered to level-up their profile through combat, completing challenges, and more, and are rewarded with cosmetic upgrades that allow for greater character customisation and player personality.
Season 6 sticks to that well-worn path. It challenges you to rise through 100 tiers in ten weeks, offering over 100 rewards in the process. Some of these are free, but the majority of unlocks aren’t accessible until you shift from the free-to-play version of the game to the Battle Pass for 950 V-bucks. (Depending on your country, approximately $10).
Season 6 also kicks off with a progressive character in Calamity that can be evolved by earning experience. A second progressive character, Dire, is unlocked at tier 100, allowing for some end of season fun as players evolve him into werewolf form.
The werewolf ties into Season 6’s theme, which is Halloween. A darkness has fallen over the Fortnite map, bringing with it eerie corrupted regions. At the time of writing, tweaks to the map are still being discovered, such as the Halloween shop (often with a chest hiding in its roof) now seen in Retail Row.
Top 5 Fortnite Season 6 Changes
1. Floating Island: The biggest map change occurs at Loot Lake. Towards the end of Season 5, a purple cube charged with electricity began rolling around the map, finally resting in the iconic lake. At the start of Season 6 said cube erupts from the bottom of the lake, turning the island and the house at its centre into a floating platform high above the world.
It’s the first time we’ve seen developer Epic Games really experiment with a play space off the mainland and it’s a great change. For those tempted to land directly on it, they’ll find themselves in a condensed battle space akin to a Super Smash Bros. For those looking to scale up to it, or descend safely, there is plenty of risk and reward attached to the exposure.
This change definitely encourages good builders to have some fun, plus it also poses some intriguing battle strategies for the endgame when the storm centres itself around Loot Lake.
2. Shadow Stones: Another change to the map sees certain areas being corrupted by the rising darkness. Much as we saw previously with Hop Rocks in Season 4, there is a new consumable item to be found in these areas called Shadow Stones.
Shadow Stones last for 45 seconds and give the player a shadow form, envisaged as a wispy purple effect. You’re unable to use weapons while in this form, but there are some benefits that are sure to get players’ juices flowing when thinking up new combat strategies.
For starters, while standing still in this form, players become invisible. It’s only when moving that the wispy trails of your shadow body can be seen. You can pop out of shadow form on demand – you don’t have to wait the full 45 seconds – allowing you to ambush passers-by (often hilariously).
You’re also gifted a new ability, called Phase, that propels you forwards and through any objects in the direction you are facing. When combined with increased movement speed and jump height – alongside fall damage immunity – Phase becomes a powerful tool in flanking enemy positions.
Shadow Stones are a great addition to the Fortnite arsenal, forcing all teams to rethink their offensive and defensive strategies.
3. Pets: We’ve enjoyed all kinds of weird and wonderful costumes, and an array of emotes, but a new aesthetic addition arrives in Season 6: Pets. Pets are a “back bling” option you can equip once they have been unlocked.
In truth, they’re not a big change, but Pets are the first significant new approach to player customisation we have seen. At launch, only three can be earned: Bonesy the dog (tier 12), Camo the chameleon (tier 29) and Scales the dragon (tier 43). Bonesy can also become different colours through other unlockables.
The pets look super cute, but other than adding a bit of flair they – like all of Fortnite’s unlockables – have no gameplay impact. Even the sounds they make are not heard by other players. It does make us feel like this addition is a little underdone. Maybe in the future we’ll see pets become a power, able to sniff out enemies, help players to fly, or used to hunt down loot?
4. Storm is Closing In: The Storm, which closes in to a central spot over nine phases, is the omnipresent threat in Fortnite Battle Royale. The one that ensures a condensed endgame with the reduced player count fighting for survival in a small space. Season 6 ups the ante on storms in an interesting way.
From phases four through to nine, the wait time till the storm begins to shrink has been considerably tightened. In fact, it’s 50% shorter in most cases. The time it takes to shrink has been increased to balance this, but the end result is that there will be far less time for mid to late game resource collecting and camping near the storm’s edge.
This dramatically increases the urgency through the latter half of the game, putting a greater emphasis on think fast, act quick team strategies and combat. A change sure to have a mixed reaction from fans, but given the success of limited time modes like Steady Storm, a welcome change overall.
5. New Locations: In truth, Season 6 doesn’t bring even half of the disruption to the battlefield we saw with the Lazy Links and Paradise Palms shifts in Season 5. But as well as the aforementioned floating island, there are other notable changes.
There are now corrupted zones at seven locations around the map. These dark, purple areas are filled with loot and rock cover, but visibility is reduced. Some new cabins have appeared in the Wailing Woods, hiding a bunker system below where you can find yourself in some heated close-quarters battles. And best of all, a big haunted castle has appeared on a peak near the Haunted Hills.
While not big changes in isolation, these new regions will be tourist hot spots in the opening weeks, shifting the dynamic of the battlefield in their direction as players explore what is on offer.