(Credit: Epic Games)

Battle royale juggernaut Fortnite unleashed Season 5 today, bringing in a new batch of outfits, weapons, vehicles, map changes, mini-games, challenges, mysterious events, and possibly a kitchen sink. This season adds an Old West-ish theme with cowboy outfits and flintlock weapons, plus golf carts that you can race, and rifts that you can travel through. You can play the Battle Royale mode of Fornite for free on iOS, as well as game consoles and PCs.

Note that there is no Fortnite for Android yet, so be wary of scammers who will try to trick you into going to shady websites to download apps that will mess up your phone and possibly steal your personal data.

In fact, if you see people on YouTube claiming they can get you an Android version (or free V-Bucks, or game hacks), using YouTube's reporting function will help make the Fortnite experience safer for everyone. Reporting is anonymous, so the YouTuber won't know it was you.

SEE: Fortnite for iOS: The next big thing in mobile games

Explaining a Fortnite "season"

Every "season" in Fortnite brings a periodic themed batch of cosmetic items like new outfits, vehicles, and weapon skins, as well as bug fixes and gameplay balance changes. Season 4's theme was superheroes, which aligned nicely with the first wave of this year's summer blockbuster comic book movies.

Each week of the last few seasons has also brought changes to the map. New buildings appear, while others get expanded or refreshed with new artwork. So despite there being only one map in the game, it's a constantly evolving landscape. For example, the end of Season 4 brought us the rifts, which have carried over to Season 5.

(Credit: Epic Games)

Now you can use rifts to teleport to different areas of the map. On foot, getting across the island takes a substantial amount of time, and there's that whole "getting stabbed and shot at" thing to contend with along the way. On the other hand, rift locations may become a prime camping target, as they're essentially bottlenecks that could spew out players into your hail of gunfire.

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How you get the new loot in Season 5

To obtain the new items in Season 5, you need V-Bucks, the in-game currency. You collect these every time you complete a challenge, and you can also buy them with real money. As usual, all the new items in Season 5 can be obtained by collecting VB in-game, or you can pay 950 VB to buy the Battle Pass, which includes all the loot and gives you a small headstart on your character level progression.

You can buy 1,000 VB for $10, which kind of obnoxiously leaves 50 VB left over after buying a Battle Pass, essentially acting as a free loan to whomever you bought the pass from. Given the enormity of Fortnite's success, this is presumably adding up to a huge pile of free cash for Epic.

At any rate, certain character levels are required to unlock some content, regardless of whether or not you purchased the Battle Pass. Season 3 lasted 10 weeks, and Season 4 lasted 11 weeks, so you won't have forever to work your way through the levels.

The takeaways

  1. In theory, the Battle Pass lets people with limited time get access to the new content -- some of which is only available during the season -- while the remaining players can collect items through gameplay, if they so choose. In season 4, Battle Pass owners also received two extra daily challenges and an exclusive weekly challenge, though, so they progressed through character levels faster and collected more VB for future purchases.
  2. In previous seasons, you had to buy the pass at launch or soon after to get an introductory price, but it's now fixed to 950 VB. So you can play for a few days before deciding if you want to support the game.

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Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.