Friday ‘Nite is a weekly Fortnite column in which GameSpot editor Mark Delaney takes a closer look at current events in the wide world of Fortnite, with a special emphasis on the game’s plot, characters, and lore.
We’re just a few short weeks into the start of Fortnite Chapter 3 Season 4, but already much of the Fortnite community has its eyes set on something potentially much bigger. Fortnite Chapter 4, once believed to arrive around December 2023, may actually be on the way this December. Why do people think that? Well, there’s a multitude of reasons, so in this week’s Friday ‘Nite Fortnite column, we’re looking at all the evidence. Is Fortnite really gearing up to begin a new chapter after just a year? Yes, it really does seem that way.
Fortnite Asteria leak
The rumors first began swirling around a new Fortnite chapter when something called Asteria was spotted by the game’s hyperactive datamining community. According to those with firsthand knowledge we’ve spoken to, some dataminers briefly caught wind of “Asteria” in the game’s files, and it seems to relate to a new Fortnite map. Some dataminers have even said this plainly, while others haven’t been too confident or willing to make such a public declaration.
However, even its name, Asteria, indicates it’s a new Fortnite map. This is because of the internal naming convention Epic Games uses when referring to Fortnite maps–they’re all named after Greek gods. The first map was Athena, Chapter 2’s was Apollo, and the current map is nicknamed Artemis. Asteria, like these other names, is also the name of a Greek god–it even similarly starts with ‘A’ which seems to be important to Epic, so it’s fairly certain by now that Artemis is a new Fortnite map, even if it doesn’t explain why players think it’s launching this year. For that, there’s more to read below
The “Season 5” release date leak
While Epic rarely mentions a Fortnite season’s launch and end dates until it serves the company’s marketing plans–such as when it needs to tell players to show up for a live finale event–we can always reliably infer the end date of any given season by looking in-game at the battle pass menu. In the small print at the bottom, you’ll see when a battle pass expires, which is historically also when the season ends. Fortnite Chapter 3 Season 4 is said to end on December 3.
Why is this significant? Because according to industry leaker Tom Henderson, who has a track record of receiving and sharing accurate Fortnite leaks, the next season of Fortnite begins on December 5. That means there’s a whole day in between when this season ends and the next begins. Typically, downtime between seasons extends for about 6-12 hours. It’s only ever longer than a day when a new chapter is coming rather than just a new season, like when Chapter 2 debuted after 36 hours of Fortnite downtime. The elongated downtime certainly seems like a hint of sweeping Fortnite changes on the horizon.
The Herald’s lore and cosmetic clues
This season’s Big Bad is The Herald, a flora-covered humanoid with unclear motivations. What we can surmise is that she’s a harbinger of doom, given her name and the details found in her cosmetic set in-game, a common place for Epic to stash some lore for fans to dig up. The Herald must be the first wave of something to come, as she is, well, heralding it. But what is it? Nothing. Literally, in the story, it’s called The Nothing.
Several times over the past few years, both in-game and by folks like perpetually-teasing Epic CCO Donald Mustard, mention of something called The Nothing has been mentioned. What is it? We still don’t know for sure, but we’re confident it’s bad. Here are the descriptions for various items in The Herald’s cosmetic set:
- The Herald skin: “The Nothing is coming.”
- Fading Ember Cloak back bling: “The last light you’ll see.”
- Epitaph Edge pickaxe: “The final cut awaits.”
Below you can see a lovely red-string-on-corkboard-style roundup of these and other clues by Fortnite content creator Ako.
CHAPTER 4 THEORY
Alright, this is a HUGE strech, but there are too many similarities to Chapter 2 Season 8 which can’t be ignored
Give it a read and let me know what you think! #Fortnite pic.twitter.com/mS3Scppeyt
— Ako | Fortnite News (@FNChiefAko) September 19, 2022
As you can see, The Herald’s foreboding clues, albeit somewhat still unclear, do closely resemble similar in-game clues to those of last year’s Big Bad: The Cube Queen. The Cube Queen arrived on the island as her physical influence spread across the map, corrupting it with dark energy that almost resulted in its destruction. It was only saved when The Foundation and Joensy enacted an apparent emergency protocol to flip the island like a coin and presumably drown the queen–Fortnite gets weird.
All signs seem to point to a new cataclysm coming soon to a Fortnite island near you. And this time, the loopers may be all out of emergency protocols.
The last big piece of evidence to consider is the existence of Creative 2.0. Known internally as Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN), Creative 2.0 is set to be a dramatic revamp of Fortnite’s Creative mode suite of tools. Offering creators better, more dynamic, and simply more tools with which they can build their own unique games and experiences, Creative 2.0 may launch Fortnite out of the universe of battle royales and into something more like a Creative suite that happens to have a popular battle royale available within it.
Creative 2.0 could launch Fortnite into something like Roblox but cleaner and more impressive, or Dreams but with commercial success to boast about. It could be revolutionary according to insiders, and therefore, it may deserve its own chapter launch. Rumored to be launching this December, it makes sense if that unveiling comes as part of Chapter 4 rather than Season 5.
If all this happens, it’ll be the quickest Fortnite has ever moved on from a map in full. Each season brings its own map changes, but wholesale replacing a map only happens with new chapters. Right now, it seems like all signs point to The Nothing being catastrophic for the heroes of the story, and for a new world, codenamed Asteria, to be ushered in as part of a once-sneaky, since-leaky Fortnite Chapter 4.
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