Fortnite: Battle Royale’s Season 5 is almost over. It’s been a whirlwind of new cosmetics, weaponry, equipment and even entire game modes. For me, the past ten weeks have been the most fun I’ve had with Epic’s 100-player shooter since I first installed it.
If Season 5 has an identifiable theme – in gameplay terms, rather than story – it is that of mobility. Prior to Season 4’s introduction of the shopping cart, the only way to get around quickly was the launch pad, a fairly rare one-use item. Now, at the end of Season 5, players have access to the golf cart, bounce pad, shockwave grenade and grappler, all of which enhance mobility in – crucially – different ways. To an old hand like myself, the shockwave grenade feels a lot like using the Medic’s concussion grenades to jump in the original Team Fortress Classic. The grappler, meanwhile, turns players into a low-budget Spiderman. All of these new items create exciting new opportunities when found in the battlefield.
New ways to play
I’ve found the variety of new gameplay styles present in this season’s limited time modes (LTMs) to be vastly superior to that of Season 4. Solid Gold mode replaced every weapon with its most damaging counterpart in both Squad mode and 50vs50. To me, this felt like Epic taking a quick nostalgia trip back to the instagib days of Unreal Tournament, and I loved it. Every encounter was swift and brutal, with precise aiming and blocking skills coming to the forefront.
The Getaway mode, meanwhile, provided a totally new way to play Battle Royale, as players were tasked not simply with survival. In squads or duos, players had to swipe, hold and ultimately extract one of four valuable jewels located across the map. Fortnite’s building mechanics shone in this mode, as the escaping team had to build a precarious ramp up to the floating getaway van, whilst anyone nearby tried to shoot them down. It was tense, thrilling and just different enough from the usual game of Battle Royale to keep me coming back for the entirety of its run. I really hope to see this one come back again.
A long-term staple of this season, the ‘soaring’ variant of 50vs50 and Solo mode ties right back in to the season’s central theme, mobility. These variants are almost identical to their regular counterparts, with the crucial difference being that players can re-deploy their gliders any time they find themselves airborne. This turns Fortnite into something resembling Just Cause, with players joyously throwing themselves around the map.
Hell, they even briefly featured a mode consisting entirely of entirely jetpacks, grenades and rocket launchers, and that’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to playing Tribes again…
Secrets and surprises
Then there’s also the cube (all hail the cube). Once it zapped into existence, the giant cube (nicknamed Kevin by some) carved a trail of destruction across the map. Glowing purple runes, low-gravity zones and decimated buildings are all over the island.
As of this morning, the cube has found its final resting place. It rolled from the dock at Loot Lake and melted into the water, causing the entire surface of the lake to solidify into a purple, bouncy mass. This has already had a huge impact on gameplay in that area, and there is no way Epic are done just yet.
The question, of course, is simple. What does any of this actually mean? Maybe this isn’t even the focus, and the cube and its subsequent jelly lake are just red herrings designed to distract us from what’s really going on. Whatever it is, I’m sure Epic will keep us guessing until the very last minute.