Friday ‘Nite: Fortnite’s reality tree shows nostalgia comes in many forms

Friday ‘Nite: Fortnite’s reality tree shows nostalgia comes in many forms

Friday ‘Nite is a weekly Fortnite column in which Mark Delaney takes a closer look at current events in the wide world of Fortnite, with a special focus on the game’s plot, characters, and lore.

Though likely inextricably linked to the game’s next great villain, and as yet unnamed, the vibrant Reality Tree is the fan-favorite star of Fortnite Chapter 3, Season 3. This towering growth near the western shores of the The island is one of the most visually stunning POIs in the nearly five-year history of the game. With its upright impenetrable base and otherworldly foliage, it’s a sight like no other. Even this season’s work roller coaster can’t compete.

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Although the tree itself is a new sight to behold this season, its special properties are giving fans a huge dose of nostalgia. As his twisted roots sprout from the ground all over the island, the places he comes in contact with change as if endlessly looping through a multiverse that somehow includes the Fortnite islands of the past.

When Epic first introduced an all-new island back around the release of Chapter 2 in 2019, many fans missed the island from Chapter 1. In Chapter 3, many fans can’t help but remember Chapter 2 more fondly. It’s a common human reaction, even among the youngest Fortnite players who’ve barely lived long enough to be nostalgic about anything, reminiscing about the “good old days.”

In Fortnite, that nostalgia centers around maps that players can no longer access. But with the Reality tree, those long-vanished scenarios are making a comeback in unpredictable ways. From a storytelling perspective, it’s probably bad news that a shadowy villain has so much influence over Reality Zero, the home island of Fortnite. But from a fan perspective, this fantastic tour of points of interest and points of interest reborn is satiating a longstanding demand for the Fornite islands of yesteryear.

As of this writing, two locations on the island are changing chaotically with each new round. What was once Butter Barn in the south center of the map is now sometimes parts of Coral Castle or The Coliseum from Chapter 2. Other times, it resembles Neo Tilted, a futuristic version of Tilted Towers from Chapter 1 Season 9. Up north, the POI formerly known as Logjam Lumberyard is now Logjam Lotus, periodically switching between past locations like the pirate-themed Lazy Lagoon, as well as the aforementioned Coral Castle, and more.

Data-miners have revealed that more of Fortnite’s current reality will be bent and reshaped by its mysterious tree in the coming weeks. With the season not ending until mid-September and a new update coming out every Tuesday, the nostalgia train may have barely left the station.

With this in mind, I asked the Fortnite community to tell me what points of interest and landmarks they would like to see resurface on the island this season. To my surprise, responses varied greatly, with very little repetition despite dozens of responses. These are some of the many previous hangouts that Fortnite fans are hoping to see soon on the island thanks to the Tree of Reality’s unique powers.

Those who laid out their picks often backed up what I already suspected: we’re all nostalgic for some POI from our early days of Fortnite, when the game was new and there was so much to learn. It’s not necessarily that the game is worse now, although some might argue that. It’s just that people, by nature, like the cozy feelings that arise when they think of some unattainable time in their past. This is true in Fortnite as it is in many parts of life.

The Reality Tree is thus an interesting experiment in fan service. A live service game like Fortnite will change dramatically and frequently, meaning some seasons are remembered more fondly than others, some saved weapons are sorely missed, and the memories everyone has exploring the island can’t be replicated because the game is always advancing, always reinventing itself.

Soon, we’ll likely learn that this “Bloomwatcher’s” reality-warping powers constitute yet another existential threat to Loopers everywhere. But until we understand him better, I and many other fans are content to use his powers to remember each of our first landings in a game that is in a state of constant change.

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