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Gaming: Fortnite teases sci-fi Season 9; Apex Legends going mobile; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Characters in Fortnite from Epic Games

Epic destruction may have cleared a path to the future for Fortnite’s next phase, as Epic Games is hinting at a sci-fi “neo” version of Tilted Towers set to rise from the ashes only hours before Season 9 officially begins.

Fortnite’s largest city, Tilted Towers (and a whole bunch of other stuff) was completely destroyed by the in-game volcanic eruption that highlighted last week’s Unvaulting event, wiping out about half the battle royale map and leaving players wondering just how they’d adjust.

But the Fortnite Twitter account just filled in the last missing letter of its Season 9 preview puzzle, completing the word “NEO” in a three-tweet teaser blast, with definite cyber-sleek undertones, the first of which you can see below.

Fortnite Season 9 tease on Twitter
​​Each tease was accompanied by a cryptic clue about what’s in store for Season 9, but it’s the sleek new sci-fi character skins, coupled with that last tease — “The Future Is Tilted” — that appears to suggest the old Tilted Towers is headed for a futuristic upgrade. If you’re new to Fortnite or simply missed the Unvaulting that caused all the destruction in the first place, Epic has a sharable set of instructions here that’ll allow you to upload a replay of the whole shebang.

The mystery will finally be answered beginning May 9 when Season 9 kicks off. Fortnite is available now for free on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.

In a bid to remind players that Fortnite’s not the only free-to-play battle royale game in town, Apex Legends is reportedly going mobile.

Via US Gamer, EA Games said in an earnings report this week that it plans to launch mobile versions of its immensely popular newcomer to the battle royale scene to jump-start new sign-ups to its already impressive 50-million-user following. The move would finally position the game to compete with Fortnite (still the world’s most popular game, with more than 250 million accounts) by taking it to many of the same places Fortnite already goes, whether on game consoles (though there’s still no Nintendo Switch version) or on the go in the palm of your hand.

Apex Legendsstealth debut in February met with immediate success, racking up its first 50 million subscribers in a matter of weeks before new sign-ups began to level off. EA hasn’t offered a timeline for when the game will be hitting smartphones, but it’s following the Fortnite formula by rolling out new gameplay events by seasons, with the second season expected to be unveiled — perhaps along with more mobile info — at next month’s E3.

In the meantime, you can play Apex Legends for free on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

And now for something completely different — and kinda cool. Already touting accessibility as part of its overall gaming ecosystem, Microsoft appears to be prepping an innovative game controller for sight-impaired players that would deliver haptic braille gameplay cues in real time.

Via Engadget, Microsoft hopes to patent a controller design that could allow on-the-fly, two-way braille messaging. A finished version of the controller would not only allow players to receive context-appropriate braille information through a small haptic device that attaches to the controller; it would also allow them to input their own braille commands.

Microsoft braille game controller patent proposal

Thanks to a set of paddle toggles arrayed on the back of the controller, players “may engage selected ones of the paddles to enable encoding braille characters using the paddles,” Microsoft’s patent application explains. “This input may be used to control a game, enter text into a chat session or take any other action desired. The converse may also occur, where a combination of the paddles may provide haptic feedback detectable by a user holding a game controller so that the paddles encode braille output (or other data), allowing a user to receive output simply by contact with the paddles.”

For now, the device sounds like an early work in progress, and Microsoft hasn’t said when, or whether, we might see a working version in gamers’ hands — so stay tuned.