Fortnite in 2017: I made a junky house to snipe from. Fortnite Season 5 in 2018: I drove an ATV through a rift in the space-time continuum and fell on your junky house from hundreds of feet in the sky.
With Fortnite Season 5, building into the sky to create a sniper nest is no longer the winningest tactic. The addition of three sizable new areas (including a huge desert biome) is spreading the player population more evenly around the map, while a new off-road 4x4 vehicle makes areas on the outer reaches of the storm circle more appetizing. Rifts are strewn about the map: portals that toss you into the sky for easy recon, a surprise rush, or a way out. And the final few storm circles will even move around randomly rather than shrink on a single point. Epic clearly wants to punish players that turtle in the late game and reward others who never stop moving.
If Seasons 3 and 4 were where players learned to build massive towers, Season 5 will be where players learn careful map movement, how to respond with building to ever increasing destructive variables, and how to golf. Things are bound to change over the next few months, but here's what I think of all the major updates in the first week of Fortnite Season 5.
While they won't change much for pros, the three new areas will teach newer players more than Dusty Divot ever did. The most significant is a massive desert area in the southeast corner, a spread of small settlements bullseyed by a city, Paradise Palms, at its center. Palms will likely pull big numbers like Tilted Towers, but because it's not walled in by hills, players are also encouraged to land on the outskirts and poke at other action-hungry players duking it out in town. The density of smaller buildings gives the desert area a natural pull, a curved route for players to snake through and scavenge along the way.
The Viking village
Due west is an unnamed mountaintop Viking village cut through by a huge longship. It's a crowded arena packed with loot, and because it's so high, landing there is one of the fastest (and riskiest) tracks to good gear. Survive the initial onslaught and it's an amazing vantage, too, offering a panoramic view of the west coast and center of the map. Get down without alerting the entirety of Greasy Grove, and it's the perfect area to plot an ambush route or start a careful rotation up the west coast.
Lazy Links and All-Terrain Karts
Shallow, rolling hills centered by a ritzy clubhouse have replaced Anarchy Acres, the least drastic map change of them all. Lazy Links is better than a second farm though, and it's also where quite a few of the new off-road vehicles live.
So long as you're OK with being a big, loud target, rotating towards the less populated edge of an incoming storm is a much more valid tactic than before. Mobile players won't have to depend on lucky jump or bounce pad spawns any longer. Karts represent yet another push towards dumb fun in Fortnite, too. Whole squads can fit inside, and with the right timing, teams can lean into corners for collaborative Mario Kart powerslide boosts.
Think of rifts as static, consumable jump pads. Marked by dazzling cracks floating above the ground, walk into a rift and you'll get teleported into the sky directly above for another chance to glide down. I'm not sure if rift locations are random, but in a few hours of play I found a few at every other major location or so. I'm not too sure why they were added, but as an easy, temporary way to scout, escape, or push an opponent, they're won't change much besides where players choose to build.
They're an asset to players on the offense and defense, something to protect and avoid depending on your relation to them. Try to hole up near a rift, and an opponent can sneak up on you without a single building resource in their inventory. Alternatively, build over a rift and if you're getting rushed or if the storm is closing in, you can edit down to your handy portal and fly out of there.
Alongside emotes and sprays, toys are a new way to interact directly with the world and other players. You can shoot hoops at a basketball court, bounce a beach ball around, or play an entire game of golf (you'll have to keep score) at Lazy Links. It is a wholly unnecessary system, but the more variables in a survival sandbox that aren't 'shoot', the more unpredictable and funny situations can become. It's only a matter of time before the top two in a storm that closes on Lazy Links decide the outcome of a match with a putt-off. Also, I'm not sure if it's in there yet, but if hitting someone with a golf ball doesn't do damage, then what's the point? I want to see incredulous, ridiculous, stupid golf ball deaths, stat.
The first punch of Season 5 isn't the complete map revamp I was hoping for, but I suspect we'll get one or two more updates on the scale of Paradise Palms over the course of the season. Either way, the Season 5 update has made Fortnite a better game. With more ways to get around and clever new areas that encourage constant movement (and screwing around), Fortnite Season 5 is all about picking up the pace and never letting anyone, including yourself, get too comfortable. Plus, the battle pass skins are anime as hell.