Fortnite’s Season 3 is here, at long last, and things look different. The map is flooded, a giant shark keeps landing on me, and there are more NPCs to fight.
As suspected, the battle royale island is now largely covered in water. While the landmarks seem much the same, many of them are now islands. As Epic notes in what passes for patch notes now, “As time goes on and water recedes, even more locations will be uncovered. And as the roadway becomes more open, you’ll discover new ways to get around.” It’s a fun change: I’ve already jumped from buildings and landed in water instead of taking damage, and a lot of places have Waterworld-esque flotilla vibes. I’ve escaped enemies more quickly by swimming, but it’s also made me—and other squads—an easier target to keep track of. I’m curious what the “water receding” will look like and what it will bring to the game.
Continuing the post-apocalyptic theme, there’s a new NPC group called Marauders. They work pretty much the same as last season’s Henchmen as far as I can tell so far. I battled several of them at The Authority, which stands on the ruins of The Agency. I haven’t been able to tell if you can disguise yourself as a Marauder via a phone booth yet, though I disguised myself as a Henchman to get into a vault at The Authority. (Correction 7:52am—This paragraph previously suggested Henchmen are still in the game, but I’m not sure if it was Henchmen or Marauders who shot at me. There was a lot going on, OK?)
The water theme also brings a new vehicle in a giant shark. So far, the shark has leapt from the water to attack me while I was fighting other players, sending us all running for cover and adding a lot of fun to the fight. It has a health bar much like last season’s helicopters, and Epic writes, “Sharks may be item-hungry and dangerous, but they also make for fun transportation. Latch on to one with a fishing rod to fide, steer, and jump across the waters.” The season’s introductory video also showed characters riding in trucks and cars, but I haven’t come across any yet.
Last season saw the first unique customization in character Maya. That option is back here with the ability to customize your umbrella, adding different shafts, toppers, and colors for the trail. Your choices again appear to be permanent, which was somewhat unpopular last season, but I like moving the customization off a skin into an accessory, especially given how much your umbrella can signal about you to other players. I never used Maya much because I tend to get pretty attached to my skins, but I can definitely see playing with the umbrella more.
A Jason Momoa-esque Aquaman can be seen in the introductory video and load screen, and the menu informs you that you can complete “Aquaman challenges” to unlock his skin and different styles. This seems similar to last season’s Deadpool option. This kind of pop culture crossover never wows me because I’m not a big comics fan, but Aquaman at least makes more sense for this season’s theme than Deadpool did. Even if I don’t go in for the characters themselves, I enjoy their side challenges, and I’m not going to complain about having a skin that lets me live out my beard and tattoo fantasies.
I’ll have more updates about what’s new in Season 3 as other players and I discover more changes. So far, while things don’t feel radically different to me gameplay-wise, I’m excited by the map shakeup. Leakers and dataminers might have revealed a lot of it well before the season started, but it’s still fun to get to play it for myself.
Update 6:37am—Medals have gotten a change. Instead of sitting at the side of your screen, they now appear to be smaller punch cards that, as far as I can tell, pop up contextually. “Experiment on the island to discover punch cards,” reads their text, and they’re viewable from a menu in the home screen. They have titles, like “Good Manners” (for thanking the bus driver) and “Yeet” (which I think I got for hitting someone with an unvaulted chug splash throwable) and they’re a little more vague. I like that they’re less intrusive than previous seasons’ medals, even if another record of accomplishments I can’t recall is a little maddening. (One redditor is attempting to compile them all, if you’re curious.)
The good folks on Reddit have also been compiling all the changes they’re finding, including noting new weapons like the charge shotgun and something called a shockwave launcher, which I haven’t found yet but appears to let you rocket jump (something I frequently forget I can’t do in Fortnite, with disastrous results). The hunting rifle has been unvaulted, along with the chug splash—I forgot these had ever been vaulted when I picked them up—and Reddit suggests the grappler has been unvaulted too. Given that the map’s new layout makes navigating a little more tricky, the grappler would be a nice tool to have, though crash pads laying around the world have also been helping me get around.
Also, we’re only a few hours into Season 3 and I’ve already felt robbed of a victory royale, so at least some things never change.