If you have an inconsolable gamer in your life, here’s why: Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular video games, has gone quiet.
Since Sunday afternoon, players eager to enter the game’s virtual world to fight one another have instead been confronted by a blank screen with a black hole at its center, prompting widespread speculation that the game is amid a major transition after the end of its 10th season.
For the uninitiated, here’s a brief breakdown of what’s happening with the game, which is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.
You’ve explained this before, but what is Fortnite again?
The video game is a battle royale.
Players enter the game by hang gliding into an island unarmed. Once there, the goal is to survive. Weapons are strewn about and 100 players fight it out, alone or by teaming up with friends.
The game, which is popular among teenagers, has features that encourage players to remain on the move and to confront one another. When they aren’t themselves playing, some fans liked to watch others fight it out, often with commentary, on streaming services like Twitch.
What’s this about a black hole?
Around 2 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, glowing rifts emerged in the game’s darkened sky, an alarm began to sound and a rocket launched from the island, according to videos posted online. More rifts emerged and rockets began pelting the island, wreaking havoc.
The rockets converged at a point on land, and a meteor that had been hovering overhead crashed down. The island sustained further damage and, eventually, players’ avatars were sent skyward, where they could view the destruction as dramatic music played.
A final explosion sparked the formation of a black hole, pulling all light, objects and players into a swirling central point onscreen, which went black before a dark, wispy blue ring materialized. That image is what players and visitors to the game’s website now see.
What does it all mean?
Before Sunday’s dramatic event, the game’s official Twitter account had cryptically tweeted an image accompanied by the words “This is The End.” Its creator, Epic Games, hasn’t said much else and, as of late Monday morning, the official Fortnite Twitter account’s history had been wiped clean, save for a single tweet linking to a live stream of the black hole.
Die-hard fans were likely not caught completely off guard, because Epic Games had previously announced that its 10th season would end on Sunday. But what wasn’t clear was what would come next, and when.
Historically, changes to the island’s map marked the transition between Fortnite’s seasons, but speculation has been swirling that a more substantial update might be coming — and that it could include a new setting altogether. On Monday, rumors emerged that the game’s next chapter could begin in China as soon as Tuesday.