Fortnite celebrates first birthday with new challenges, Playground Mode and more

It's been one year since the original Fortnite: Save the World launched, and Epic Games is celebrating with birthday-themed challenges, significant game tweaks and new activities.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
7 min read
Epic Games

Fortnite is celebrating its one-year anniversary with an update patch for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and iOS. But Epic Games made sure it's more than just a regular weekly Fortnite update. Sure, it comes with a new set of weekly challenges for the Battle Pass, a new submachine gun and the return of Playground Mode, all of which are great. But on top of that, this patch brings birthday-themed skins, a Battle Bus strewn with streamers and birthday challenges you can complete in battle royale mode even without a Battle Pass. There are also a ton of tweaks to weapon balance, gameplay, loot spawn rates and more (scroll down for the full patch notes).

Happy birthday, Fortnite!

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the game's release, Epic Games added three free challenges to unlock cosmetic items. The first two are pretty standard: Play 14 battle royale matches to complete the first challenge, then deal 1,000 damage to opponents to complete the second. But the third challenge is a little more unorthodox: You'll need to dance in front of 10 birthday cakes scattered around the island.

Each of the challenges unlocks cosmetic items in the free-to-play royale mode, including a birthday cake-themed character skin, a new spray and a birthday-themed backpack (known as "back bling" in the game). There will also be birthday cake slices around the Fortnite map that will instantly give you five health points and five shield points when you eat them.


You won't even need pay for a Battle Pass to get the rewards from these special challenges.

Epic Games

Playground Mode is back

The popular Fortnite sandbox mode is once again available as a limited-time event, but with a few welcome changes. According to the official patch notes, players will now be able to switch teams within the game. Formerly, you dropped in as a squad with friendly fire turned on, but with the ability to switch teams on the fly, you'll now be able to practice battling with your friends once you're all geared up.

Players will also be able to drive the game's new golf carts in Playground Mode, and they're guaranteed to spawn in their usual locations. Chests will now hold three weapons and other items, and ground loot will spawn more items than the regular battle royale mode. Materials within Playground Mode are now stronger, and construction times have been decreased. And among several other minor changes, rocket launchers get a max ammo of 60, so those tougher constructs may not last very long.

Slurp juice tweaks, building changes and other updates

One of the things that makes Fortnite battle royale mode so addictive is Epic's near constant updates to keep players coming back to see what's new. This week is no different, with plenty of non-birthday tweaks and additions included in the new update.

First, there's a new fast-firing submachine gun that's tuned for close combat:


The new compact submachine gun has a 50-round capacity and uses light bullets.

Epic Games

Next, Slurp Juice got a major revamp and now heals one hit point every 0.5 seconds, capping at up to 75 hit points (that's up from 25 before the update). Loot drop rates have also been increased almost across the board, so players will have more chances to find the guns and items they want.

Frequent players will be pleased to see a new "sprint by default" option. This makes it so you can automatically sprint when moving, with the former sprint button turning into a walk button. Three cheers to Epic for helping save our thumbs.

Check out the full patch notes below:


  • New default keybindings for new players.
    • All keyboard layouts will continue to default to the QWERTY bindings for new players or those who reset their back to default.
  • Changed countdown timers to display more useful information
    • Shows hours left instead of days when under 72 hours.
    • Shows hours:minutes: seconds left when below 13 hours.
  • Changed the background of the loading screen bullet points area to be partially translucent.
  • Removed the "static noise" when switching tabs.
  • The "Restore" button has been removed from the settings screen. Also, the "Reset Defaults" button has been renamed to "Reset".  
    • Leaving the settings screen before applying changes will give the option to apply changes and exit or discard changes and exit. 
  • Double clicks now register as two clicks on a button, allowing for faster navigation through Next/Previous type buttons

 Bug Fixes

  • Items on the ground will properly have their stack counts updated if the stack size changes while the player is currently looking at them.
  • Fixed a frame delay on some text layouts, which would cause large blocks of text to reflow their wrapping one frame after seeing them.
  • Corrected text shadows that were appearing incorrectly in certain areas of the UI.

Birthday Event

  • You can now find birthday cakes placed around the map with consumable slices next to them. Enjoy those tasty treats!
  • Cake slices give +5 health and +5 shield instantly when consumed.
  • Complete three birthday event challenges to unlock a new emote, spray, and Backbling.
  • The Battlebus and Supply Drops have been decorated to celebrate #Fortnite1st.

Limited Time Mode: Playground


Playground is a low-pressure environment where friends can let their creativity run wild. Build massive structures. Practice with the weapons and items. Fight against your friends. This mode returns with improvements for a limited time on Wednesday, July 25. Have fun!

What's New?

  • Players can now switch teams in-game. Join the same team to work together creatively, join separate teams to practice fighting each other!
    • Note: Voice chat will remain on across all teams, future iterations of the mode will offer more customization. 
  • Aim assist will work when using a gamepad against players on an opposing team.
  • Matches will no longer end if one player leaves the server.
  • Golf carts have been added and spawn 100% of the time.
  • Ammo cans spawn 10x the amount of ammo.
  • Removed grey vending machines, increased the chances of higher-tier machines spawning.
  • Increased launch & bounce pads spawn likelihood.
  • Lowered forced glider deploy height, so players can get back into the action more quickly.
  • Increased max rocket ammo cap to 60.
  • Increased rocket ammo drop rates.
  • Added 100 Supply Drops.
  • Chests now spawn 3 weapons and more ammo & consumables than normal.
  • Floor loot now spawns 3 items.
  • Increased Chug Jug and Slurp Juice spawn chances, decreased Bandages.
  • Added Chug Jugs to floor loot.
  • Respawn timer lowered from 10s to 3s.

Mode Details

  • Drop into the Battle Royale map alone or with up to a full squad for an hour.
  • Players respawn immediately unless eliminated by the Storm.
  • The Storm doesn't start closing in for 55 minutes and takes 5 minutes to close in.
  • Resources gained from harvesting increased by ten times the normal amount.
  • 100 Llamas will be spawned on the map.
  • Chests & ammo boxes spawn 100% of the time.

Weapons and Items

  • Compact SMG added.
    • Available in Epic and Legendary variants.
      • 23-24 base damage.
    • Uses Light Ammo.
    • 50 round capacity.
    • Can be found from floor loot, chests, Supply Drops, and Vending Machines.
  • Slurp Juice now grants 1 health every 0.5 seconds, up to a total of 75. If health is full, shield will be granted instead.
  • Supply Drop loot rates adjusted.
    • Weapons (drops 1)
      • Assault Rifles to 25% from 14.2%.
      • Explosives to 25% from 28.5%.
      • Compact SMG 14.58%.
      • Sniper Rifles to 14.58% from 28.5%.
      • Heavy Shotgun to 10.42% from 7.1%.
      • Minigun to 10.42% from 14.2%.
      • Removed Hand Cannon, Dual Pistols, and Silenced Pistol.
    • Traps (drops 2)
      • Launch Pad to 44.44% from 9.6%.
      • Cozy Campfire to 33.33% from 7.5%.
      • Bouncer to 22.22% from 15%.
      • Removed Damage Traps.
    • Consumables (drops 2)
      • Shield Potion to 20% from 19.1%
      • Small Shield Potion to 17.50% from 12.7%
      • Med Kit to 13.75% from 6.3%
      • Slurp Juice to 11.25% from 5.11%
      • Clinger to 10% from 6.3%
      • Remote Explosives to 10% from 3.3%
      • Impulse Grenade to 10% from 4%
      • Chug Jug to 7.5% from 2.1%
      • Removed Boogie Bombs, Grenades, Bandages, Stink Bombs, Port-a-Forts, and Bush.
    • Materials (drops 2)
      • Wood to 33% from 47.6%.
      • Stone to 33% from 35.7%.
      • Metal to 33% from 16.6%.


  • Changes to building materials.
    • Wood wall starting health to 80 from 100.
    • Stone wall starting health to 80 from 90.
    • Wood wall max health to 150 from 200. 
    • Metal wall max health to 500 from 400.
    • Metal build time to 25s from 20s.
  • Storm Circle changes.
    • Safezone 2 wait time to 120 from 150.
    • Safezone 2 shrink time to 120 from 90.
    • Safezone 4 wait time to 90 from 120.
    • Safezone 6 wait time to 60 from 90.
    • Safezone 7 wait time to 45 from 60.
    • Safezone 8 wait time to 30 from 60.
    • Safezone 9 wait time to 30 from 45.
    • Added moving circle to Safezone 6.
  • Added "Sprint By Default" option, when enabled this makes sprint the default movement. The sprint key will now be used to transition into walking.
  • Newly-placed building pieces will now appear in a different color while players are still overlapping the structure.
  • Improved handling of collision when building pieces are placed right on top of a player. It's much more likely for players to be moved outside of newly-placed structures.
  • Pickaxe damage against enemy and ally player built structures increased to 75 base damage and 150 critical damage.
  • The slow motion and confetti effects for a Victory Royale will now play for the winner regardless of how they win the game.
  • Changing the gyro motion of the Nintendo Switch to rotate around the roll instead of the yaw. 
    • This is intended to allow for the users to be able to hold the device in any situation and always have the motion react according to the screen direction instead of being in the Switch's world space.

    A tour through the Fortnite booth at E3

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