Fortnite season 9: Storm Scout Sniper, Birthday Bash and Loot Lake Orb

The most popular battle royale game is turning two years old.

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
Oscar Gonzalez is a Texas native who covered video games, conspiracy theories, misinformation and cryptocurrency.
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Oscar Gonzalez
12 min read
Fortnite cake

Happy birthday to Fortnite.

Epic Games

Fortnite season 9 is almost over, thanks to the Final Showdown this past Saturday. Epic Games' popular battle royale game is preparing for the upcoming season 10. There's an orb in Loot Lake left in the destruction of the battle that looks like it can blow up fairly soon, but before that, it's time for a Birthday Bash. There's also the new Storm Scout Sniper weapon added in the latest patch for the game.

When does season 9 begin?

Fortnite season 9 went live May 9 after servers were taken down for updates. Once the servers were back, Epic tweeted the season trailer.

According to the trailer, the volcano event on May 4 had a lasting effect on the island. The two destroyed areas, Tilted Towers and Retail Row, are now replaced with futuristic versions of the locations, called Neo Tilted and Mega Mall. The volcano also changed and is now known as Pressure Plant.

Epic tweeted on May 14 that the first official update, v.9.01, would happen May 15 at 1 a.m. PT. 

As the company regularly does, Epic also included a tease within its tweet with the phrase "get up close and personal." This could reference a new weapon Fortnite players saw when logging in: the tactical assault rifle. 

Fortnite v9.10 update went live on May 22 and featured a new crossover with Nike called FortniteXJumpman. Players can purchase new skins decked out in hyped Air Jordan 1's and play in the new Downtown Drop limited time mode. 

Season 9 will last for the next 10 weeks, and then Fortnite season 10 will start Aug. 1, according to fan site Fortnite Intel .

What's new?

As prominently shown in the Fortnite season 9 trailer, there are two new areas to explore: Neo Tiled Towers and Mega Mall. Players who know the island like the back of their hand will have to spend some time exploring to figure out the places to loot and where to ambush others, as these two spots will be popular in the early days of the new season.

Neo Tilted

Neo Tilted


Another futuristic addition: the Slipstreams. Located around Neo Tilted Towers, Mega Mall and a large portion of the inner island, these new towers will propel players once they enter the wind stream. Players should use these Slipstreams as both a mode of transportation and a way to get out of trouble. Air vents were another mobility addition to propel players into the air and make them immune to fall damage.

Slipstreams around Mega Mall

Slipstreams around Mega Mall


Epic added only one new weapon at the start of season 9: the combat shotgun. The semi-automatic weapon takes the place of the pump shotgun, which was vaulted -- aka removed from the game. Several other weapons, items and throwables were also vaulted, including clingers, buried treasure, poison dart trap, scoped revolver, suppressed assault rifle, thermal assault rifle and balloons.

Epic also made changes to the Battle Pass for Season 9. As in previous seasons, those who purchased the pass for 950 V-Bucks, or just shy of $10, will have 100 levels to work their way through to unlock new emotes, pickaxes and skins such as the Sentinel, Rox progressive and for those who make it to tier 100, the Vendetta skin.

Something new with this Fortnite season 9 Battle Pass are the Fortbytes. These collectible computer chips are hidden across the island with a new one unlocked each day of the season. Collecting these items will piece together an image that hints at what's in store for Fortnite season 10.

With these new additions, Epic made various changes to the gameplay and improvement. The company also added new Limited Time Modes such as Trios, where players can make three-person squads, the Legendary-focused Solid Gold mode and One Shot, which has players with 50 health and can only access sniper weapons, meaning one hit is all it takes to eliminate players.

After the first week of Fortnite season 9, Epic released the first update of the season, v9.01, on May 15. That includes a new weapon, the tactical assault rifle. 


Fortnite tactical assault rifle

Epic Games

The automatic weapon, unlike most rifles, is far more effective up close than at a distance. It also has:

  • 30-round magazine
  • Deals 22/23/24 damage
  • Headshot multiplier of 1.75x

Epic also reduced the damage of the drum gun, which was brought back from the "vault" during the volcano event that kicked off the season. Many players complained about the weapon's damage, so it was decreased from 26/27 to 22/23.

The v9.10 update on May 22 added a new way to get loot during a match: Hot Spots. Random named locations on the map will turn gold, meaning Loot Carriers are in the vicinity. These floating caches can be shot down to acquire a high-end weapon. 

Fortnite Loot Carrier

A Loot Carrier added in the Fortnite v9.10 update

Epic Games

Other changes in the v9.10 update are the reduced availability of the Shadow Bombs and Combat Shotgun and unvaulting of the Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle. 

For Season 9 week 4, Epic added a new Burst SMG weapon for players to shoot quick four-bullet bursts. 

Epic delayed the v9.20 update by a day and plans to release it on Thursday, June 6. New in the update is a throwable called Storm Flip. When thrown in an area where the storm is active, it will create a safe area for players that can be a huge advantage as those players who are safe can easily pick off opponents running in the storm while taking damage. On the flip side, those who use a Storm Flip in a safe area will create a small storm when thrown, which will damage players within. 

Storm Flip, however, is reportedly causing issues near the end of games, making it almost impossible for players to tell which areas are safe and which aren't. Epic Games on Thursday said it'll be disabling the item during this weekend's World Cup and in Arena mode.

Other changes in the v9.20 update are changes to Loot Carrier drops and the vaulting of all Hunter Rifles. 

Update v9.21 went live on June 12 featuring the new Proximity Grenade Launcher to deal damage to opponents near the projectile. 

The update also had weapon balance changes, especially to the new Storm Flip item, which is now harder to find and does less damage. 

Also included in the v9.21 was a new limited time mode called Horde Rush. The new mode is a four-player co-op with its own challenges launching on June 13. 

The Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am competition took place on June 16 when 50 of some of the best Fortnite players in the world teamed up with 50 celebrities. During the event, Epic played a trailer for a new Flare Gun item. 

It's unclear what the Flare Gun will do in the game or when it will come out. 

Update v9.30 on June 18 added a new healing item made for helping out a squad called Chug Splash. When used, the rare six-pack consumable will create a splash that will heal all allies in its proximity. 

As the case with every new update, data miners were in full force inspecting every file to find something new that may be added in a future update. One discovered assets for a new Drum Gun variant called the Drum Shotgun. 

The Drum Gun was a controversial weapon when it came out as it was deemed too powerful for matches. It was soon removed from the game, or vaulted, but then unvaulted during the Fortnite season 8 volcano event. This new Drum Shotgun may show up in the coming weeks before Fortnite season 9 comes to an end. 

On Tuesday, June 25, Epic released a content update for update v9.30. The patch marks the beginning of the Fortnite 14 Days of Summer that will unvault a new weapon each day as well as have new challenges and limited time modes. 

The weapons unvaulted in the update include the Pump Shotgun, Shockwave Grenade, Suppressed SMG, Revolver, Tactical Shotgun, Burst SMG, SemiAuto Sniper Rifle, FlintKnock Pistol, Infantry Rifle, Minigun, Heavy Assault Rifle and the DrumGun. The Rare Tactical Assault Rifle, Impulse Grenades, Rift-To-Go and Pirate Cannon were all vaulted in the patch. 

A second content patch for v9.30 went live July 2. It was a small update adding a new weapon, the Drum Shotgun.

Fortnite Drum Shotgun

The Drum Shotgun doesn't have as much power as other shotguns, but it shoots a lot faster. 

Epic Games

The Drum Shotgun has 12 clips and is available in common, uncommon and rare variant. What it lacks in power in comparison to other shotguns, it makes up for how fast it can fire. 

Fortnite's v9.30 content update #3 went up Tuesday, July 9. Like the previous content updates, there was one new item added, and the Air Strike is a throwable that calls for missiles to rain down on enemies.   

Air Strike is a legendary throwable that emits a colored smoke to signal for 20 missiles to strike randomly in a nine-meter radius. Players can find the new item in chests, supply drops, vending machines, and Supply Llamas.

Wednesday, July 17, saw the release of update v9.40, the first official update since Epic gave its developers a much-deserved vacation. 

fortnite tactical shotgun

The revamped Tactical Shotgun. 

Epic Games

The redesigned Tactical Shotgun deals 83/87 maximum damage, hold eight shells and has a 2.25 multiplier for headshots. 

What is likely the final season 9 update came out on Tuesday, July 23. Patch 9.41 adds a new sniper rifle and birthday presents to celebrate another year of Fortnite. 

fortnite storm rifle

A new sniper rifle that has a special ability.

Epic Games

The Storm Scout Rifle is sniper rifle with an extra feature. Players using the scope will be able to see the storm circle before it appears on the minimap. This can provide an advantage by knowing where the storm is heading allowing a player to plan accordingly. 

Also included in the patch were the presents and cake for Fortnite's Birthday Bash starting on July 25. 

Fortnite present

Unwrap this gift for a Legendary item. 

Epic Games
Fortnite cake

Gain a little health when eating this cake. 

Epic Games

Birthday cakes will be scattered across the island for players to pick up, while presents will come down from the sky as supply drops. Opening a present will reward a player with a Legendary item, while cake will give 5 health and 5 shields. The Battle Bus will be decorated accordingly and will play appropriate music for the event. There will also be a chance to get a new Pickaxe, wrap and more freebies from Epic. Players will also receive a birthday llama on July 25.

The birthday fun starts on Thursday, July 24, and lasts until July 31, right before the start of season 10. 

Fortnite players should expect more content, modes, weapons, skins and, eventually, clues to the next season.

Hidden secrets and Easter eggs

Epic tends to add clues and Easter eggs on the island that hint at upcoming events or the next season. A less than subtle example in Fortnite season 9 is the addition of a building in Paradise Palms that looks remarkably like the house from the John Wick films. 

John Wick house in Fortnite

The John Wick house in Fortnite

Epic Games

One data miner also discovered a set of challenges for a limited-time mode called Wick's Bounty, or WAX. This event started May 16,  just before the third entry in the franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, opened in theaters. 

To add more fuel to the John Wick fire, the Fortnite v9.01 update had a slew of movie-related content leaked by data miners. First is the new John Wick outfit that has a secondary style called "Damaged."

Another data miner found more info about the Wick's Bounty limited-time mode in the v9.01 update. The new mode will have infinite spawns, and players will have to collect coins off of other players, which most likely drop when eliminated. 

There's also a new skin known as "Sofia," which is the name of Halle Berry's character in John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum. The data miner noted that the head is temporary and could change when the skin officially goes live in the future. 

On Friday, June 28, Epic completed the John Wick set with the official release of the Sofia outfit. This time based on Halle Berry's look in the film. Players can purchase the new skin in the Fortnite Item Shop for 1,500 V-Buck, or approximately $15. 

Another subtle reference found in Fortnite season 9 is a storefront called Scoops Ahoy, the ice cream shop in Stranger Things. Chris Lee, director of interactive games at Netflix, said on June 12 at an E3 panel that the company has plans for a Stranger Things crossover in the coming weeks. The third season of the Netflix series was released July 4, during the second half of Fortnite season 9. 

Players saw the next step in the Fortnite Stranger Things crossover on Wednesday, July 3, just in time for the premiere of the show. Portals that look like they're from the Upside Down appeared across the island. 

Fortnite Stranger Things portal

A portal found in a house in Fortnite.

Epic Games

There are several portals, and entering one will transport players to another. 

In time for the release of Stranger Things season 3, Epic revealed the Fortnite X Stranger Things crossover on July 4. 

The crossover event featured skins based on Chief Hopper and the Demogorgon, which are on sale in the Fortnite Item Shop for a limited time. 

In the v9.10 update added to the game on May 22, players found something weird at Polar Peak. There's a block of ice that shakes as wind comes out of the cracks. It almost appears as if there's something hidden inside. This could be the start of the event that could be the transition to Fortnite season 10.

On May 28, Fortnite players who visited Polar Peak saw something new in the form of a giant eyeball. The creepy eye will track the movements of the player in front of it. 

June 6 saw a big change at Polar Peak. The block of ice holding a monster is broken, taking part of the ice castle with it. Giant footprints can be seen walking away from it toward the Viking Village. 

The Polar Peak monster continues to be on the move, but this time in the water. Players have seen remnants of the castle destroyed by the giant beast floating around in the waters around the island. 

Another sign of destruction by the Polar Peak monster appeared on June 16. Players saw the modern house located in Pleasant Park in a pile of rubble. 

There's no rhyme or reason as to where the Polar Peak monster will appear next, but it will likely be the catalyst for changes to the island coming in Fortnite season 10. 

After the downtime for update v9.30 on June 18, Fortnite players logged on and found something new at Snobby Shores: a large neon triangle. 

With Fortnite season 9 only weeks away from ending, these kinds of weird additions to the island are typically indicators of an event coming. The triangle isn't nearly as big as the mysterious cube from 2018, but something could be changing very soon to end the season. 

Starting on July 2, players saw something strange at Pressure Plant. It appears that someone is building a giant robot similar to the mechs in the Gundam series. So far, only the feet and part of a leg have been built.

The giant robot in Pressure Plant appears to be almost complete as of July 8. Players saw the robot's legs and torso have been built with just the arms and head missing.  

One data miner found on Sunday, July 7, an image of what could be the countdown clock for the fight between the monster and robot, which Fortnite players are calling Cattus (the monster) versus Doggus (the robot). 

The name Cattus comes from the file name for the monster in Polar Peak. Players have since called the monster's opponent, in the case for the robot, the player base came up with the appropriate name of Doggus. 

On Wednesday, July 10, the giant robot now has an upper left arm. 

On Friday, July 12, the robot's right arm is complete.

A giant clock down timer went up Saturday, July 13, in Fortnite. It will end on Saturday, July 20, at approximately 2 p.m. ET. It's believed that when time runs out, the Polar Peak Monster will finally do battle with the Giant Robot being built at Pressure Plant. 

Fortnite countdown clock

A giant clock is counting down. 

Epic Games

This fight between the robot and the monster appears to be the finale for Fortnite season 9 and the lead-in for season 10. 

After weeks of speculation, Epic confirmed the name of the season 9 finale event:  The Final Showdown. 

Wednesday's v9.40 included a slew of leaked content for the event including a robot skin and monster emote.

Players who went to Pressure Plant Wednesday, they were able to see the giant robot that looks more like something out of Voltron or the Might Morphin' Power Rangers. 

Saturday's Final Showdown was a battle for the ages. The Polar Peak monster finally showed itself, and it continued its destruction of the island. To stop it, the giant robot activated and proceeded to take on the giant beast. In the end, the mech vanquished the monster with a giant sword thrust to its head. 

Fortnite monster skull

All that's left of the Polar Peak monster.

Epic Games

There were no big changes following the fight, but the giant robot reached into Loot Lake to pull out a source of power to help it continue the fight. The result is an orb in the area that looks like it will explode soon. 

Loot Lake orb

An orb is pulsating in Loot Lake.

Epic Games

it's expected that players will see the new map following the Fortnite World Cup on July 26-28. 

Fortnite is available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, and Android and iOS devices.

Originally published May 7. This story has been updated regularly throughout season 9 to add the latest weapons, Easter eggs and events.

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