Fortnite, the world’s most popular game right now with some 200 million players, has just announced that its much-anticipated Season 8 is available.
For those of you who don’t play Fortnite, the title takes an episodic approach with new features, tools and maps released every few months. That keeps things fresh, gamers engaged and the money flowing as each new season offers a Battle Pass, which costs around $10 and unlocks a load of goodies, including skins and emote dance moves.
Season 8 is pretty much what the leaks this week suggested. The theme is pirates, with new skins that include a gigantic banana suit, pirates and snakes, and pirate cannon is a new weapon that’s been added. Cannons can dish out 100 damage when there’s a direct hit, or administer 50 damage on those in the impact area — it can also be used to fire players to new locations.
The map is also a major Fortnite focus, and Season 8 has added lava to the existing volcano. Stepping on lava gives players one damage point per touch while there are volcanic vents that can be used to send a player or vehicle into the air using a gust of hot air. There’s also a range of treasure to be found inside pirate ships, another new addition (which is where the cannons can be found).
On the gaming-playing side, the major addition is “Party Assist” mode, which lets players bring their friends into Fortnite’s daily or weekly challenges. Those challenges are important to players because they unlock treasures, including skins, and, in fact, those who played Season 7 could earn a free Battle Pass for Season 8 by completing the right challenges. That might have saved a few million parents $10.
(By the way, if you’re struggling to load the game, that’s because scheduled maintenance kicked off at 4am EST in preparation for the new season launch — you can find more info on the status page here.)
Those are the main additions, though game-maker Epic Games has chucked in a few little touches — including extending the somewhat comical “infinite dab” feature from 11 hours to 12, meaning that your character will keep dancing a little longer when left in the lobby.
I can’t help but think Season 7 was a greater leap — as the addition of planes and ziplines really changed how players get around — but we’ll have to see how the gaming public reacts. This time around, a lot of the focus is on skins and emotes, rather than features.
A recent report suggested Fortnite’s revenue had dipped in January, but that was pretty unfair because it’s the month that followed a surge in spending around the December Battle Pass and also, more generally, a surge around the Christmas holidays.
Sources told us recently Epic Games banked $3 billion in profit across its entire business in 2018, thanks in particular to Fortnite, and it needs to keep its season releases compelling if that streak is to continue. There’s a lot riding on Season 8, particularly as credible rivals emerge.