Fortnite Season 9 is upon us and that means there’s plenty of new changes and fixes to gameplay that players can adjust to. Last season’s theme centered around pirates and tropical landscapes, but this one mixes things up by introducing futuristic elements. It’s an idea executed fantastically while also showing off some great new locations, battle pass tiers, and features. This may just be the best season the game has seen yet. Great Battle Pass The core of any season is, of course, the Battle Pass. Once unlocked, players are given immediate access to Rox and Sentinel, but those that purchase the Battle Bundle also receive Bunker Jonesy. Rox and Sentinel are fantastic skins with some great progressions, but Sentinel’s, in particular, is really interesting due to a resemblance to Gundam. Bunker Jonesy is hilarious and a great joke skin to run around with. The tier 100 skin, Vendetta, looks nice as well and rivals The Reaper (John Wick) as one of the sleekest. Great skins aren’t all that the pass offers; The Lazy Shuffle, Sign Spinner, and Sad Trombone emotes look fun to use, as well as the Chicken Cluck. The electronic pets give more attention to the back bling-type and are just pure cute in general. I’m personally a fan of the selectable music the game has been offering, so seeing Orange Justice’s theme made me a bit happy but the new Afterburner steals the show. What really mixed things up for the cosmetics are the new double axes for harvesting. They don’t make chopping down trees faster but allow for some fun playthroughs. Compared to last season’s Battle Pass, this already out does it drastically. Luxe was a good final tier skin but Vendetta easily outshines it. His is more complex and has more customizable options. Peely was one of Season 8’s highlights but besides that, there wasn’t much else. This is a cosmetic line that fans won’t want to miss. Unique Map Changes Where the game really starts to mix things up for gameplay styles are this season’s map updates. Thanks to the recent Unvaulting Live Event, the map’s volcano erupted and destroyed Tilted Towers and Retail Row. This chaos did not last long since both have been replaced by the futuristic Neo Tilted and Mega Mall. They both have plenty of loot and add twists to popular locations. Pressure Plant is also another area added, despite it being lesser talked about in the changes. It’s a location that lets players have somewhere else to drop while also containing plenty of loot. Now, these aren’t as major as the changes like the entire tropical and winter biomes added in the past, but they’re nice enough to mix things up. What really makes things interesting this time around are the Slipstream transportation systems. Zooming through sections of the map make outrunning the storm easier and more viable at further locations. It can also leave you vulnerable to outside gunfire, so there is some balance to it. Skybases are the final new bits of land added and can be visited by way of a Slipstream. They’re similar to a floating Expedition Outposts and provide excellent sniper fire spots. This new mode of traversal is fantastic for getting around this massive area of land quickly and easily. It’s the perfect substitution for what the X-4 Stormwing was intended to be. Much Needed Changes There are loads of bug fixes and glitches patched but the main focus here will be what happened with some weapons and items. It’s no secret that many of the previous season’s arsenal is patched out but nothing too outrageous. Well, Season 9 mixed that up by taking out the following items: Clingers Buried Treasure (Season 8 Only) Pump Shotgun Poison Dart Trap (Season 8 Only) Scoped Revolver Suppressed Assault Rifle Thermal Assault Rifle Balloons The beloved and powerful Pump Shotgun was taken out in favor of the Combat Shotgun which delivers a tight shot and quick firing rate. It also holds 10 shells and can be reloaded two at a time. Taking this gun out and replacing it completely changes up the competitive scene and late-game battles. Most players utilize the Pump Shotgun to quickly take out opponents, so bringing a new twist is unique and forces players to adapt. Spawn rates to the Boom Bow and Drum Gun have been greatly reduced and are perfect. These guns can be a bit overpowered and by making them less available, allows for better gameplay. The Tactical Shotgun also got an increase in damage so it can be a viable option compared to that of the Combat Shotgun. Overall, these buffs and fixes shake up combat encounters and are no doubt going to alter the competitive scene. Lastly, the game has introduced a concept called Fortbytes. These are hidden computer-like pieces scattered throughout the map or unlocked by challenges. It’s similar to finding a Secret Banner or Battle Star but with more complexity. There can be some difficulty in earning some but finding all 100 is sure to add plenty more hours of gameplay. It’s a great inclusion for those that finish weekly challenges within the first few hours and can bring users back on a normal basis due to the incentive. Epic Games truly brings their A-game for this recent season. From its hilarious intro, featuring Jonesy and Peely fleeing into a fallout shelter, right down to the detailed gameplay changes, Season 9 is a much better outing than that of Seasons seven and eight just by its Battle Pass alone. If it has a memorable live event similar to that of The Cube or Marshmello’s concert, and it will be a fantastic outing. There’s still so much to come since this is only day one but there is plenty of hope that Fortnite is going to deliver something great.