All the cool kids are doing Hop Rocks, Fortnite's new performance-enhancing drug

RIP Dusty Depot. 

The Fortnite end times are here. The sky has fallen and destroyed, well, an unremarkable group of buildings—like, one-and-a-half big warehouses, an abandoned prison, an innocuous patch of grass next to a farm, and a drive-in theater—but we all start somewhere, you know? And with the start of Fortnite Season 4, so begins the end of Fortnite as we know it. Translation: Dusty Depots is fucking gone. Mostly. Wiped out by a big space rock.

Except that Dusty Depot wasn't exactly an iconic Fortnite landing spot in the first place, so sending it to warehouse heaven hasn't changed how Fortnite plays on its lonesome. It's the Hop Rocks left behind that turn these pockets of Fortnite into a floaty, fast test of marksmanship—a haven for players that want to shoot now and build later. 

Hoppin' off 

Hop Rocks are a new consumable item that only exist in craters. Dusty Depot's is the biggest by far, a gaping hole at the center of the map with a small research encampment at the bottom. Otherwise, it's a barren bowl. But consume a Hop Rock and you can suddenly move faster and jump higher for a limited time—it's just floaty enough to evoke Halo's low-grav combat. With enough people hop-rocking, the crater transforms Fortnite into an arena shooter long enough for the crowd to thin out. 

"Just build" doesn't always apply in the craters. 

It's the total opposite of Titled Towers' cramped shotgun battles and sneaky sniper trades. Within minutes, players are flying all over, scrambling to find the few weapons strewn about the crater. Those lucky enough to grab one still have the challenge of placing shots on swift, bouncing targets. Players barely have any materials so early in a match too, a nice escape for old-timey gun-fed FPS players like myself. Back in my day, we didn't build our own cover!

You can really feel Epic pulling players toward the eastern half of the map with low-grav goodies.

Cratered Dusty is total chaos now, a place I anticipate the risk-takers and most experienced players will quickly come to dominate, but that's OK. As long as it distributes the player population more than before, Tilted might be a more appetizing place to visit for the average player. And with a few smaller craters pockmarking the eastern half of the map, including one at a new drive-in theater location in the northeast portion of the map, I expect to see more activity at flat, unpopular areas like Moisty Mire and Fatal Fields. Some of those areas could still use a total makeover. I mean, dropping a hole in the ground on or next to a problem doesn't suddenly make them interesting play spaces—they're still flat, sparse scenes—but you can really feel Epic pulling players toward the eastern half of the map with low-grav goodies. 

The boonies boon 

I'm sure we'll see the pros come up with creative, troubling uses for Hop Rocks over the next few days. With the smaller craters placed near the outer edges of the map, looting far beyond the safety of the circle isn't as risky anymore. Each crater is lined with loot and chests, Risky Reels in particular. Every few trips I opened no fewer than three chests, and even though the circle was on the other side of the map, I cleaned up, gathering more than enough resources for an endgame build battle, then hoofed it back towards safety thanks to the speed boost from a Hop Rock—more proof that Fortnite doesn't need vehicles. 

Risky Reels is denser low-grav arena with more cover and houses filled with loot. 

I've yet to see Hop Rocks anywhere but craters, but I hope to see them spawned at random locations all over. There are more than enough landing locations for players that want a shootout right away. By dropping Hop Rocks far away from the noise, players with a more cautious playstyle will be better incentivised to play it cool and calculated. Either way, expect to see more players foraging in the far reaches of the map. As someone that prefers a quieter early game, I'm ecstatic. They might be big, dumb holes in the ground filled with magical go-fast pills, but they're exactly what Fortnite needed. No doubt there's still work to do. This early on it's hard to tell how well the player population will spread out in a given match and I'm sure that once the most skilled players take notice, I'll have to avoid crater battles unless I have a death wish. 

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Some areas could use their own personal meteorites yet, but with Fortnite Season 4's opening changes Epic has shown it's committed to diversifying playstyles at risk of throwing existing player habits out of whack. If something doesn't work, the developers will literally drop a space rock on it. I love Epic's approach of turning patches and balancing into a narrative moment in Fortnite's 'story.' Even though I'll probably never learn to build, Fortnite's irreverent, playful, constantly surprising changes will keep me around. 

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.