After 1,410 days (or 3 years and 10 months), the Grim Medicine cosmetic set—complete with the popular Plague Doctor skin—returned to Fortnite‘s in-game store yesterday, allowing players to purchase it for the first time since the covid-19 pandemic began. Many people believe it was the pandemic itself that kept plague-themed items and skins out of the game for so long.
I don’t think I need to explain Fortnite to you, but just to be sure: Epic’s Fortnite is a free-to-play battle royale PVP shooter that is available on almost every modern platform. It supports crossplay across all of them and has been one of the most popular games in the world for the last few years as it continues to expand and include more characters from other franchises such as Star Wars, Dragonball Z, and Street Fighter.
However, Fortnite has its own original skins and cosmetic items, such as Peely and the previously mentioned Plague Doctor. However, these plague-related items had not appeared in the game since March 1, 2019, making them extremely rare, as the only people who could use them were those who purchased them when they were last available. Meanwhile, the majority of other skins reappear in the store every few weeks or months.
Epic had blacklisted and retired the Grim Medicine cosmetic set due to the covid-19 pandemic, according to fans. This makes sense, because including those skins at the height of the deadly pandemic, which has killed over 6 million people globally as of January 2023, would have been a bad look.
According to the current theory, the skin appeared in the store on March 1, 2019. Then, before it could be restocked, covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and spread throughout the world, officially becoming a pandemic on March 11, 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Epic saw this happening and decided to remove the plague-themed items from the store’s rotation in order to avoid any controversy.
The problem is that Epic has never officially confirmed this theory. Kotaku contacted the company about the skin and the long delay in its appearance, but received no response. Even if Epic hasn’t officially confirmed the cause of the Grim Medicine items’ disappearance for nearly four years, the covid-19 theory doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. And, for whatever reason, many players were delighted to see it return, if only to make a joke about its long absence. Or to emphasise that covid-19 is still a thing in 2023, which it is, and that it is still lethal and dangerous.
“Upon receiving this notification, one of my friends IMMEDIATELY dropped money into the game. “He’s been waiting since it was last in the shop,” one user tweeted. “LET’S GO! I’ve finally gotten PLAGUE!!! “I’ve wanted him for two years,” another player said after learning of the Plague Doctor’s return to Fortnite. Of course, there were those who thought it was amusing that everyone was so excited about the skin, as well as those who already owned it and were disappointed to see their once-rare skin become more common.
Personally, I’m not excited about the Grim Medicine skins because I dislike the way they look. And, besides, I only buy the most cursed and bizarre Fortnite skins, such as Mr. Meeseeks from Rick and Morty.