Feature Article

Friday 'Nite: Fortnite's Reality Tree Shows Nostalgia Comes In Many Forms

The Reality Tree is giving the island a blast from the past, and nostalgic fans are hoping for a wide array of revivals.

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 emphasis on the game's plot, characters, and lore.

Though it's likely intrinsically linked to the game's next major--and yet unnamed--villain, the vibrant Reality Tree is the fan-favorite star of the Fortnite Chapter 3, Season 3. This towering growth near the western shores of the island is one of the most visually striking places of interest (POIs) in the nearly five-year history of the game. With its impenetrable base standing tall and its otherwordly foliage, it's a sight like no other. Even this season's working roller coaster can't compete.

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Though the tree itself is a new sight to behold this season, its special properties are giving fans a heavy dose of nostalgia. As its twisted roots spring up and out of the ground all across the island, places it comes in contact with are shifting as though they're endlessly cycling through a multiverse that somehow includes Fortnite islands of the past.

When Epic introduced a wholly new island for the first time ever, way back with the 2019 launch of Chapter 2, many fans missed the Chapter 1 island. In Chapter 3, many fans can't help but look back on Chapter 2 more fondly. It's a common human reaction, even among Fortnite's younger players who've hardly lived lives long enough to feel nostalgic about anything, to remember the "good old days."

In Fortnite, that nostalgia centers on maps players can't access anymore. But with the Reality tree, those long-gone settings are re-emerging in unpredictable ways. From a narrative perspective, it's probably bad news that a shadowy baddie has this much influence over Reality Zero, the home of Fortnite's island. But from a fan perspective, this fantastical tour of reborn landmarks and POIs is satiating a long-held demand for Fornite islands of yesteryear.

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

Dataminers have revealed that more of Fortnite's current reality will be bent and re-shaped by its mysterious tree in the weeks ahead. As the season isn't set to end until mid-September and a new update comes out every Tuesday, the nostalgia train has perhaps hardly left the station.

With this in mind, I asked the Fortnite community to tell me which POIs and landmarks they'd like to see resurface on the island this season. To my surprise, answers varied wildly, with remarkably few repeats despite dozens of replies. Here are some of the many past hangouts Fortnite fans hope to see on the island soon thanks to the Reality Tree's unique powers.

Those who expounded on their picks often backed up what I already suspected: We're each nostalgic for some POI from our earliest Fortnite days, when the game was brand-new and there was so much to learn. It's not necessarily that the game is worse now, though perhaps some would argue that. It's just that people, by their nature, like the cozy feelings that rise up when they think of some unreachable 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 vaulted weapons are missed dearly, and the memories we each have exploring the island can't really be replicated because the game is always moving forward, always being reinvented.

Soon, we'll probably learn the reality-bending powers of this "Bloomwatcher" constitute yet another existential threat to Loopers everywhere. But until we understand it better, I and many other fans are content to use its powers to recall each of our earliest landings in a game that is in a constant state of change.

Mark Delaney on Google+

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Mark Delaney

Mark is GameSpot's Guides Editor, meaning he tries to keep his backlog short. His favorite genres are battle royale, sports, and horror, but he'll play pretty much anything other than fighters or JRPGs. In his spare time, he likes biking around Portland, chasing Circa Survive across the country, and fighting for animal liberation.



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