By Niraj Chokshi/New York Times
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. The game’s 10th season is now over, and its spectacular ending prompted speculation that major changes could be on the way.
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 like to watch others fight it out, often with commentary, on streaming services like Twitch.
What’s this about a black hole?
Around 2 pm Eastern time 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 on-screen, 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?
That “Fortnite’s” 10th season would end Sunday was no surprise — its creator, Epic Games, had previously announced as much. But it wasn’t clear what would come next, and when. As of late Monday morning, the official “Fortnite” Twitter account’s history had been wiped clean, save for a single tweet linking to a livestream of the black hole.
A purportedly leaked video posted on social media early Monday afternoon claimed to show an official trailer for the next installment, identified in the clip as “Fortnite” Chapter 2, Season 1. “This looks like a completely different game,” the streamer GhostNinja said of the clip in a livestream to about 75,000 viewers on Monday. “This is what we needed.”
Historically, the transitions between “Fortnite” seasons have been short, often with just hours between the ending of one and the beginning of the next. Those transitions have been marked by changes to the island’s map, but speculation has been swirling that a more substantial update might be coming — and that it could include a new setting altogether.
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