Season 9 will be great, I am sure. The new Tilted looks like it's taken inspiration from Sunset Overdrive, which is always money in the bank, and it's just nice to see shiny buildings rising out of the volcano-ravaged earth. But with two words, the patch notes for the new season have broken my heart and ended a glorious era of aviation - or rather a glorious era of aviation stupidity.
Man, wasn't it great to go for a float in Fortnite? I loved those packs of balloons that lofted you into the air, but only for a while, because a balloon would always pop at high altitude and so you had to inflate another, and then another, and eventually you knew you would run out. I loved balloons because they gave you the sky, but not for very long. I loved them because you could pick and choose your targets from aloft, while in turn being the ultimate target for everyone down below. I loved them because in a game of speedy movement, balloons put you on a different timescale to everyone else. No more jagged jumps and dashes and turns. Instead, just slow, moon-base hops. I loved that tug of gravity as you fired up a balloon and then jumped, the air around you suddenly changed, the planet's hold diminished.
More than anything, though, I loved them because of a very dangerous sport I discovered that I christened, rather unimaginatively, balloon-boarding. In balloon-boarding, you hopped on one of those hoverboard things, fired up a bunch of balloons and then took to the sky. You moved, in balloon-boarding, by jetting forward in stiff bursts from the hoverboard. But unlike on the ground, in the sky it was terribly hard to stop, so you would be a sort of aerial rook from chess, making these zany back and forth movements, spinning about, never quite being in control but always looking as if you were moving with great deliberation.
All balloon-boarding excursions ended the same way, of course: with death in the storm, far from safety, unable to arrest a tragic momentum in the wrong direction. And then how long would it be until the Fortnite RNG gods smiled upon you and gave you balloons in the same game as They gave you a hoverboard? For now, those gods have decided to put the balloons away properly. Or rather, I like to think, They have moved them just out of reach.