Fortnite players are no strangers to mystery. Strange things have been happening to the battle royale's map for a while now--buildings are being constructed at Tilted Towers, a mysterious hatch in Wailing Woods remains unopened, and the game's fifth season started with a rift between worlds leading to significant changes across the island. More recently, Tomato Town secretly became Tomato Temple and a strange Cube has appeared. Most of the other mysteries have been relatively straightforward, but the Cube is unlike anything that's appeared in Fortnite thus far.
Let's back up a bit. The rift in Fortnite's sky appeared when "The Visitor," a character whose visage you can equip as a skin, launched a rocket that many people thought would destroy a significant portion of the game's map at the end of Season 4. Instead, the rocket bounced around the world for a bit and then created mysterious rifts in some areas. Those rifts expanded, in-game fast food mascots Tomatohead and Durr Burger vanished, and eventually a giant crack opened in the sky. Things only started to get stranger from there as Epic Games kicked off Season 5.
The company didn't skimp out when it came to revealing that these rifts connected our world to Fortnite's. A real-life replica of the Durr Burger mascot was dropped in the California desert. Durr Burger eventually returned to Fortnite, though, and a cinematic showed it bringing a graffiti artist along for the ride. That graffiti artist is "Drift," another in-game character unlocked with the Season 5 Battle Pass. Drift stood out from most of the game's other skins, however, because players could unlock increasingly arcane outfits as they earned more experience.
Drift appears to have something to do with the cube. The final outfit shows him crackling with energy, and the pickaxe associated with the costume seems to carry that power, which manifests as pink electricity. That same neon-pink lightning erupted from the giant rift in Fortnite's sky multiple times over the course of a single day in early August. The lightning always struck the same place--a mountain in the desert that replaced Moisty Mire at the start of Season 5--and the strikes became more frequent as the day went on. Eventually we met... the Cube.
At first the Cube was just another oddity. It behaved like an in-game Bouncer when struck, sending players flying into the air if they hit it with a pickaxe. Repeatedly shooting it, however, could lead to it sending a damaging arc of electricity in the offender's direction. The really strange thing was that if a character died this way, the in-game communication system would say things like "InsertNameHere was killed by..." and then show a strange, glitchy character that hadn't been seen in the game before. Weird, right? Well, it got even weirder, because the Cube started to move.
Other strange things started happening around the Cube. It's now surrounded by an aura that gives the same effect as Hop Rocks that disappeared at the end of Season 4. Jumping while you're in the aura will launch you much higher than normal, and you won't take damage from the landing. (Fortnite usually punishes falling great heights by taking away varying amounts of health based on the height of the fall.) The Cube also seems to slowly grant shields to players who remain in the aura. It also displays runes in which Redditors are scrambling to find meaning.
The Cube is a true mystery. Some players managed to glitch inside of it, but that didn't reveal anything, presumably because Epic left the Cube empty for now. The company also hasn't mentioned anything about the Cube in its most recent patch notes; nor did it say anything about replacing Tomato Town with Tomato Temple. This is a bizarre shared experience between Fortnite players that extends beyond most in-game events. Most events like this would have been data mined by now, or teased by the company, but Epic hasn't allowed either of those things yet.
The Cube, like the rift, obviously serves a purpose. Epic found the most interesting possible way to make changes to Fortnite by explaining them in-game and making them bona fide events instead of arbitrary changes. The effect is the same--new locations are introduced, new mechanics are tested, etc.--but now players are intrigued rather than irritated by the changes. Even without that reasoning, however, it's fascinating that Epic was able to create such a compelling mystery considering how massive the game is. Hopefully it doesn't turn out like the hatch from "Lost."