In "Fortnite: Battle Royale," the changing of seasons is a big deal, and Thursday's transition to Season 5 may be the biggest one yet.
Each season brings a new theme to the game's Battle Pass, and often many cosmetic changes to the map. For example, in the days leading up to the beginning of Season 4, the game hinted that a meteor shower would change the island forever. When the meteor did hit, it caused a large crater in the centre of the map, turning Dusty Depot into the craterous Dusty Divot.
However, in lieu of ever simply announcing what the newest additions and changes to the game will be, the developers at Epic Games will often leave cryptic hints and Easter eggs scattered across the island (or in the game's code) for the most dedicated fans to decode.
This time around the clues are weirder and more mysterious than ever, and even now, just one day away from the beginning of Season 5, we still know very little about what to expect.
Here's what we do know ahead of the big reveal today:
Two weekends ago, a one-time in-game event featured a rocket launch and rifts in the space-time continuum, and nothing has been the same on the island since.
Enzait Films / YouTube channel Enzait
You can watch a full cinematic-style recording of the launch, recorded and edited by YouTube filmmaker Enzait Films here:
The rifts — which look like bright blue cracks in the sky — have been steadily growing and multiplying since the launch, and have been seen making landmarks disappear mysteriously, as well as spitting out a few objects that don't seem like they belong on the island, like this stage coach, spotted near Moisty Mire...
And now, real-life loot llamas — the game's mascot — have been spotted all over Europe.
Reddit user "eversoris86"
Photos of the llamas in London, Barcelona, Cologne, and Warsaw have already been posted on the Fortnite subreddit thread. It's crazy, we know.
Could it be that the rifts offer a portal between the real-world and the in-game Fortnite universe? Epic Games' latest teaser banner, posted today, seems to imply so.
A leading theory suggests that Season 5 may be desert themed, as evidenced by the appearance of the Durr Burger in the California desert, and the sphynx-looking mask featured in Epic's first teaser poster.
The theory was started by known leakers @TwoEpicBuddies, who claim to have found a bug in the game's code that would imply a new desert map might be coming with the introduction of Season 5.
Others have suggested the stage coach, some leaked data files, and a scene from the trailer for Playground Mode could be pointing toward a Wild West theme for Season 5.
Here's the trailer. The very brief scene starts at about 0:17 seconds in.
Unfortunately, neither of these theories seem to explain the meaning of the rifts or why multiple landmarks and llamas are being spotted in the real world.
Screenshot / Business Insider
The good news is we won't have to wait long to know exactly what this all means for the future of Fortnite.
According to a Reddit post made by Epic Games today, there will be a brief downtime beginning at 4 AM Eastern Time (08:00 GMT) today, July 12, before the update kicks in and reveals the theme for Season 5.
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