Fortnite fans think the game's upcoming move to its third Chapter - and third Island map - may come sooner than expected.
The battle royale's original Island was sucked into a black hole after 10 seasons, to be replaced with the rebooted Chapter 2 Island we have now.
Fans had expected Fortnite's Chapter 2 to also last 10 seasons - but there's now whispers developer Epic Games may switch things up sooner than expected with an early arrival of Chapter 3.
Fortnite is currently on its 18th season, Chapter 2 Season 8, which is due to end on 5th December. But whether we get a ninth and tenth season on the current map - taking the game into late spring 2022 - or a whole new Chapter before 2021 is done is currently a matter of hot debate.
There are a few in-game clues that Chapter 3 is coming, which fans have put together. A recent book-reading emote references getting to the "end of the chapter", while this season's introduction of the supremely powerful Cube Queen character has various associated items which reference time running out, and the end of the Island.
This wouldn't be an early finish to the Chapter, either. As Fortnite leaker Hypex just happened to point out last week, we have now passed the tipping point where Chapter 2 has actually stuck around longer than the original, despite the fewer number of seasons.
Chapter 2 is now the exact same length as Chapter 1 (747 days)— HYPEX (@HYPEX) October 31, 2021
If Season 1, 2 & 5 didn't take +100 days we would've been at the end of Season X right now.
Behind the scenes, there are leaks of upcoming, in-development features like a shift to Unreal Engine 5, plus the addition of weapon attachments and an Apex Legends-style sliding mechanic which feel better suited to the arrival of a new map rather than appearing on the current one. (Fortnite introduced boats and swimming in the move to Chapter 2.)
Oh, and those dreaded Fortnite mechs are soon expected to make a brief return - a nod back to their controversial appearance at the climax of Fortnite's first Chapter.
Perhaps most tellingly, a major Fortnite leak we reported on back in July - which detailed the game's Ariana Grande concerts, Sideways zombie areas and Cube Queen long before they were public knowledge - suggested that latter character would be introduced in the current season and then play a role in Chapter 3.
Eurogamer has contacted Epic Games for more.
In the meantime, teasing Fortnite YouTubers such as SypherPK and Tabor Hill have put out their own videos with much of the above - but SypherPK in particular suggests he has his own information that the current map will only last a couple more weeks. Both YouTubers sign off with the teasing farewell of "catch you guys on the flip side" - another apparent nod to what's next.
Does it feel time for a new map now, rather than early next year? I haven't grown tired of this one, and I have enjoyed seeing it starting to get as battle-worn and object-strewn as the Chapter 1 map in its final days. That said, with the game's various elements and factions (Slone and the IO, Jones and The Foundation, The Cube Queen) now all seemingly in play for this season's finale, things do perhaps feel even more climactic than normal.