Fortnite’s Chapter 2, Season 4 is, as long-teased, a crossover with the Marvel universe. If you can put aside the terrifying implications of a Peely with Wolverine claws, you’ll find what largely appear to be cosmetic changes, with a few gameplay elements mixed in so far.
Called Nexus War, Season 4 sees Thor and other Marvel characters arrive on the game’s battle royale island to stop villain Galactus from destroying reality. An in-game comic book and a new cinematic tell how the characters came to be in the game’s world. The battle pass contains Marvel skins, like Thor, Groot, and Mystique. Some skins have additional unlockables, which require leveling up the battle pass and completing challenges. At level 8, for instance, you can complete “Mjolnir Awakening Challenges” to unlock a Thor-specific harvesting tool; at level 86, you can complete challenges to unlock an emote that turns the Mystique skin into a Fortnite character. The level 100 skin has Tony Stark transforming into Iron Man. There’s also a set of Wolverine challenges to earn a Wolverine skin and related wraps, gliders, and emotes.
There are some thematic map changes that I’ve seen so far, such as Doctor Doom taking over Pleasant Park, complete with a fortress and NPC henchmen. There’s a Sentinel graveyard with giant fallen robots. There’s a hovering carrier off the coast of the battle royale island, and planes swoop past the battle bus when you enter a match. As usual, we’ll likely see more map changes as the season progresses.
The Marvel crossover also brings a few gameplay changes. Epic writes in a season blog, “Take up super-powers like Doctor Doom’s Arcane Gauntlets, Groot’s Bramble Shield, Silver Surfer’s board, and more arriving later in the season.” I found a cooldown item called Doctor Doom’s Mystical Bomb, which lets you throw an explosive ball of energy, in a vault. By shooting down a loot drone I received another item, Groot’s Bramble Shield, a wooden ball a bit like season 8’s hamster ball, which seemed to heal me (I had full health so I couldn’t tell, but it played the green light animation traditionally associated with healing items.). There’s also a tie-in weapon, the Stark Industries energy rifle, which Epic writes has “different benefit depending on how you aim,” but I’ve yet to find it.
In non-Marvel news, there are new fish types; I caught a Spicy Fish that made me run faster. Leakers are suggesting other new types as fish as well, which grant different abilities. I really like Fortnite’s fishing but don’t do it much; perhaps new kinds of fish will lure me (hey-o) back in.
Of course, if you’re on iOS, you won’t see any of this, since the game didn’t update to the new season following Epic’s partial loss in its dispute with Apple in a court hearing Monday. The Verge writes that iPhone and iPad players no longer see the battle pass or get XP, though players can still play the game. That court battle will be playing out alongside Season 4. Epic’s not shy about putting mentions of it in the game, and I’m curious, though anxious, to see how else it might filter into the game’s world.
I’m very much not a Marvel guy, so I’ll admit the crossover isn’t that exciting to me. I spent last weekend showing my Marvel fan friends the game’s Twitter teases and in-game comic book pages, asking them frantic questions about who the characters were and what they were talking about. Over the course of covering Fortnite, I’ve grown fond of its lore and its community of lorehunters, and I was worried the game would lose some of the things that make it itself by going so full-tilt into an outside universe. I’d be happy to have the Marvel stuff largely confined to the battle pass, so I can keep playing as my hot cat and constantly needing my teammates to revive me. A Fortnite season always changes wildly over the weeks though, so we’ll see what else Season 4 has in store.