Everything You Need To Know About ‘Fortnite’ Season 6

Season 6 hit Fortnite: Battle Royale yesterday, bringing with it a new battle pass along with a raft of map changes and new gameplay to match the new spooky/Halloween theme. Perhaps the most striking item developer Epic Games introduced has to be the Shadow Stone: a new consumable that turns you into a wraith for a limited time, during which you’re mostly invisible if you stand still, but more visible if you move. You also can’t use weapons and can phase through walls by an ability. It’s the sort of item that has the ability to totally upend what we expect out of encounters, but we’ll need to wait a bit to see how they actually shift the meta. Epic Games disabled shadow Stones last night due to technical problems, promising to bring them back when they were fixed.

It’s not a shocking move. Epic has had issues with every similarly ambitious item introduced into the game for months now: shopping carts were disabled several times before they finally made their way into the game on a permanent basis, and ATKs spent plenty of time in technical limbo as well, at one point even making it impossible to finish a weekly challenge.

Shadow Stones are similarly ambitious to those items. Other season-long in-game items like Rifts and Hop Rocks were the kind that introduced big new mechanics into the game that didn’t appear to require nearly so much from a technical level: Rifts were essentially a teleporter, Hop Rocks just tweaked gravity values something Unreal Engine is capable of doing. Shadow Stones introduce a totally new player state with new mechanics, and that’s complicated.

For example: the phasing ability allows you to move through walls at some times, but not at other times. I’m not a developer, but it just seems like that mechanic alone could introduce literal millions of unforeseen problems. I also read about an exploit that seemed to confer unlimited, total invisibility, which is likely related to why Epic took the items down.

Epic moves at such a quick pace with Fortnite that it doesn’t do betas, and so it can be difficult to predict what’s going to happen when some 70+ million people hit your new game feature all at once.