Donald Mustard, the chief creative officer at Epic and main architect of the Fortnite Battle Royale storyline, is retiring. It’s a fascinating time for a change like this for Fortnite–the storyline in Battle Royale has been in shambles for more than a year, and it’s only gotten worse with every new season in Chapter 4.
I’m not saying that’s Mustard’s fault. It seems unlikely that the storyline we’ve seen play out this year. Instead, as with most video games, the story has taken a backseat to many other concerns. When Epic changes its plans for something, the writers have to roll with it–even if it isn’t possible to do so while keeping it coherent. While Fortnite’s Marvel-esque story wasn’t overly coherent in a good year, in the past you could at least track the big picture from season to season. Not anymore.
Epic is so tight-lipped about, well, everything, that we don’t have a lot of hard info about the various ways that Epic has pivoted off its plans–technically, we don’t really have any firm proof that it pivoted at all.
But a new Fortnite leak might give us a big clue: It indicates that the current season, Last Resort, with its new map locations and heist activities, may have been intended for Chapter 4 Season 2 way back in March of this year. This is firmly in rumor territory, but this is the sort of thing that, if true, would help explain why the overall Fortnite story has been broken down for so long.
The details here, which were datamined rather than coming from an insider source at Epic or some other studio working on the game, say some of the files related to the major new locations in Last Resort are marked as “s24,” meaning they belong to Season 24 of Fortnite. The problem? This current season, Chapter 4 Season 4, is Season 26.
This isn’t hard evidence that Chapter 4 Season 2 was definitely supposed to be heist season, but it does make a lot of sense. Each season in Chapter 4 has been self-contained, not directly following up on what happened immediately before, even though what happened immediately before was usually a tease for what was coming next.
Let’s go back to Chapter 4 Season 1. That season, dubbed Oathbound, involved a character named The Ageless–he was the boss who roamed The Citadel, and a snapshot of the founder of the Imagined Order–and another, Rift Warden Stellan, setting up some kind of portal at the behest of an entity called the Shapeless Man. The AI A.M.I.E. was very concerned about this portal, which could connect to other realities, and she wanted to use it to save The Scientist–one of the members of the the Seven who was eaten by Chrome at the start of Chapter 3 Season 4. After A.M.I.E.’s questline ended, Stellan claimed somebody had changed the coordinates in the portal and locked them, and that something bad was probably going to come out of it.
Separate from that, we got the Most Wanted event at the end of Season 1. That event had some plot: We were helping a criminal faction called the Most Wanted steal stuff from vaults belonging to a rival group called the Cold Blooded. It’s impossible not to draw a line from this event to the heist-centric Last Resort. But we’ll circle back to that.
Cut to Season 2. Mega City fell out of the rift in the sky even though it landed on the opposite end of the island from where the rift was, and the Japan biome joined the island. Neither A.M.I.E. nor Stellan, nor the Most Wanted or Cold Blooded, have been referenced at all since then. There was a single reference to The Ageless in Season 3, but nothing illuminating in the least. The only reference to the Seven since Season 1 is a calendar in Eclipsed Estates that shows each member’s symbol.
In Season 2, the plot involved helping a bunch of Mega City crime syndicates–not the Most Wanted or Cold Blooded–get along with each other in order to defeat the threat of a creepy guy named Triarch Nox and his Unseen syndicate, who’s trying to wreak havoc on the island for reasons that are never revealed. During the last month of the season, earthquakes began to regularly rock the island, and once Season 3 began, a huge section of the island collapsed and revealed a dense jungle underneath.
Apparently Slone, a long-absent villain in the plot, had been stuck down there performing archeological research to learn about some ancient and powerful people who used to live on the island before leaving for space. But this whole thing with the syndicates hasn’t been mentioned since, and those characters haven’t been relevant at all.
And now we’ve arrived at the actual heist season. There’s a time-traveling vampire named Kado Thorne who’s been stealing stuff from the island’s past, and as players, we’ve been tasked with breaking into his vaults to steal them back. Slone hasn’t been referenced this season yet. The Cold Blooded and Most Wanted aren’t around–having a vampire as the leader of the Cold Blooded would have made too much sense, I guess.
Do you get the picture yet? Each season this chapter has essentially been a standalone story that has little or nothing to do with whatever just happened, with each new season just going in what feels like a random new direction that doesn’t make much sense. These don’t feel like anthological tales, but rather a disjointed attempt to stitch together the game’s long-standing serialized plot amid a year that, for reasons we don’t know publicly, has apparently seen a lot of shuffling within Fortnite. The idea that Epic somehow swapped out a planned season for a completely different one is very appealing in that context: It’s an easy thing to blame for the story falling apart, certainly.
There are reasons to buy it. The Cold Blooded, as mentioned, would make a good name for a syndicate of vampires. But the big one is probably just that Kado Thorne’s house is in the place where the portal was in Season 1, whereas all the new map attractions added in Season 2 were on the far end of the island from it. So while we have nothing that confirms any of this, we do have a lot of lingering evidence to suggest it’s true, even if we may never know why the seasons got moved around.
Regardless of what the specific cause of the problem is, the problem itself remains: Fortnite’s story is completely out of control, and no longer tracks from season to season. And now Donald Mustard, aka the guy in charge of this aspect of Fortnite, is on the way out the door. I have no idea what happens from here.
The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors.
GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.