Fortnite Is Back, Ending Gamers’ Long Nightmare

If you had an inconsolable gamer in your life, here’s why: Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular video games, went quiet.

Starting Sunday afternoon, players eager to enter the game’s virtual world to fight one another were instead confronted by a blank screen with a black hole at its center. The game’s 10th season was over, and its spectacular ending prompted speculation that major changes could be on the way.

At 4 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, the wait was over. The black hole disappeared, and players were instructed to download a major update. Then, after a 100-minute wait, they could explore their new world.

For the uninitiated, here’s a brief breakdown of what happened with the game, which is played by millions of people worldwide.

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The video game is a battle royal.

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 others.

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 playing, some fans like to watch others fight it out, often with commentary, on streaming services like Twitch.

Previous transitions between Fortnite seasons have been short, often lasting just hours. The longer downtime this time fed speculation that a more substantial update might be coming.

The assumption was correct. Chapter 2, Season 1 came with a new map, set on an island with mountains and beaches along the coast. It included new weapons, skins (nonplayers may call them costumes) and other goodies.

Twitch streamers, like tourists stepping off a bus in a foreign city, were giddy as they examined new areas, discovered new weapons and toyed with new mechanics.

“I’m fishing right now, dude,” the streamer Turner Tenney, known as Tfue, said on Twitch as he strolled along a beach with a fishing rod.

Around 2 p.m. Eastern time on 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 onscreen, which went black before a dark, wispy blue ring materialized. That image remained until Tuesday morning, when the game was back on.

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