Fortnite jetpacks are live now! The official mode of transportation of the future can now be found in any given match of Battle Royale, months after it was first announced as coming to Fortnite. Epic says the jetpacks themselves will only be available in the game for a "limited time" (no specific timeframe was given) but the new backpack item type they represent will stick around for good.
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Jetpacks are Legendary in rarity and only spawn in loot chests, so they're not easy to find - I finally got lucky and snagged the above screenshot of a squadmate who looted one off of a dead opponent. We both died a few seconds after that, but it doesn't matter because looking cool is forever. It was long enough to see how they work, anyway; they're not the "hang in the air as long as you like" kind of jetpack, they're the "boost around for a few seconds until it runs out of charge" kind. Also, you can't aim down sights while you're using one, so don't try for any airborne sniping maneuvers.
If you want a more surefire way to try jetpacks before they disappear, make sure you check out the Close Encounters Limited-Time Mode starting on Friday, May 25. It will replace all guns with shotguns and makes jetpacks spawn much more frequently, encouraging mid-air battles. It's basically skeet shooting in which you play as both the shooter and the clay pigeon.
Like I said, jetpacks won't be around for long, but backpacks will. According to the official update notes from Epic, all backpacks will have a few things in common: they'll take up a spot in your inventory like any other item; picking up a new backpack will instantly remove your old one; and they'll be automatically destroyed when used up. Also of note is the fact that backpacks will visually override your Back Bling as long as they're in your inventory. Unlike your arsenal of guns and other items, you can't keep them hidden from other players.
Of course, this just makes me wonder what other kinds of backpacks Epic could add to Fortnite in the future. They're pretty exciting as a new item type; rather than adding a discrete new gameplay option like a Port-a-Fort, they augment your playstyle while leaving your character's hands free for shooting and building. Shield generator? Speed booster? Huge boom box that makes everybody nearby dance like they got hit with a Boogie Bomb? The possibilities are tantalizingly endless.
Now that you have a Fortnite jetpack, what else is left to live for? I'll tell you what: E3 2018 games!