Don’t call it Season 11. From what we can tell, Epic Games is rolling things over on Sunday, and instead of moving on to Season 11 we appear “Chapter 2”, a brand-new start for the game along with what we now assume to be a new map. That’s for the best: the current map has been through the wringer, and the whole thing could use a sprucing up. There’s no better confirmation of this idea than the recent leak from the Italian app store, which showcases some characters looking out over a pristine vista that’s clearly a different map from the one we’ve had all this time. It’s a big deal: the game has been flagging a little bit recently, and Season X wasn’t exactly a fan favorite. A big shakeup could be just what Fortnite needs to command attention as we move into the holiday release season.
So let’s dive into what we can see of the new map from this admittedly tiny leak. We can’t glean much, but there are some important pieces of information here.
New Default Skins: We can see three figures looking out over the map in this image, and they look a lot like the current default skins. But while they look similar, they’re wearing different clothes, leading me to believe that Epic is introducing new defaults at the beginning of the season. If you’re a free-to-play player, this one is a really big deal. We’ve had the same default skins ever since the game launched, and any player without a premium skin gets assigned one of these randomly assigned before the match starts. Mixing this up not only gives free-to-play players new skins for the first time ever, it also serves as an important symbol for the game as a whole. Things are different now, this says, and the most basic elements of the world are going to reflect that.
Boats? If you look closely, this one is pretty much unmistakable. There are boats skidding around there in the water, though it’s unclear if they’re going to be usable by players or not. I’m going to guess that they are: anything that goes into an image like this is intentional, and that means these boats are intentional. That makes them sort of curious: as vehicles, they have a pretty obvious limitation, in that they don’t go on land. That might allow Epic to make them a little more powerful to compensate, though it’s hard to imagine how a boat could make a dent in a game that revolves around mobility as much as Fortnite does. Maybe they’re duck boats? they could be duck boats.
More Water: Water is pretty limited on the current Fortnite map, especially since the elimination of Moisty Mire and the Loot Lake shakeup. We’ve basically got some smaller bodies of water, a big river that’s nonetheless easily crossed, and the larger bodies around Loot Lake and in Lazy Lagoon. All in all, it doesn’t make a huge impact on the game. This image features water fairly prominently, with what looks like a larger body on the scale of the old Loot Lake, as well as a more complex river system. It could even point to multiple islands separated by rivers, giving us something to do with those new boats down there. Water poses little threat to the experienced player with enough materials on hand, but it’s still another tactical wrinkle in the game.
That’s about what I can see, but I’d be curious for more thoughts. We’ll know all on Sunday, it seems, but who wants to wait until then?