Survivor host Jeff Probst has dished on the new changes and twists of Season 41 and how the "new era" of the game will result in an "unrelenting" 26-day ride for the unsuspecting castaways.

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Following a year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Survivor producers were able to imagine and execute a fresh take on the game that first premiered all the way back in 2000.

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A new group of 18 castaways will play an accelerated 26-day game on the islands of Fiji, and CBS teased when announcing the cast there will be minimal supplies, scarce Reward Challenges, and advantages that could advance a player's game or simply extinguish his or her torch.

"Winners At War was designed to be the end of an era for Survivor. We really felt we had gotten everything we could out of that version of Survivor. We wanted to go out with one final battle, and thanks to our amazing group of winners, I think we did!" Jeff explained to Parade.

"Every single player gave everything they had, and it resulted in one of our very best seasons. Survivor 41 will birth a new era of Survivor with a faster, more dangerous and much more intense game."

Jeff said both the new Survivor players and viewers watching at home "will feel the difference immediately," as Jeff will talk directly to the audience throughout the season and let them in on twists before the players are even made aware of them.

"So viewers can play along, second guess, or just sit back and judge!" Jeff teased.

Jeff said every aspect of the game was adjusted to ensure an extremely impactful and "unrelenting" 26 days for the castaways instead of the usual 39 days.

"I think the players will tell you; we accomplished our goal! We really leaned into having fun with this season, and the best kind of Survivor fun is the dangerous kind," Jeff recalled.

"Survivor 41 is fraught with risk at every turn. Nothing is free; nothing is easy; nothing is guaranteed."

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When the game begins, the 18 castaways will be divided into three tribes of six.
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And Jeff reiterated how Reward Challenges will be few and far between and tribes will not be given a daily food staple.

"This had a tremendous impact immediately as their mental and physical energy is instantly challenged. Tribes are very small throughout the season, which makes Tribal Council even scarier because there is nowhere to hide, Jeff explained.

"And votes are often at risk, which means you can't ever rely on how many votes your alliance will have at any Tribal Council."

And Jeff revealed advantages on Season 41 "often come with massive risks."

"In order to earn an advantage, you have to successfully navigate something risky. This is a new version of Survivor. There is no way to compare past seasons," he noted.

In birthing a new era of Survivor, Jeff said producers decided to let go -- for now, at least -- of a casting theme or theme built around a specific twist.

For instance, Survivor previously aired Survivor: Blood vs. Water in which family members could start off playing with each other, and one season separated castaways into three stereotypes: Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty.

"Those ideas served us very well for 20 years, but now it's time for something new. The new players and the gameplay will define each season, much like a Super Bowl or any other regular sporting event," Jeff told Parade.

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"And because the game design is so different, I think fans will see that this new version of Survivor was designed to take the game in a new direction–fast, fun, and extremely dangerous!"

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Jeff said producers' goal is to keep players, even the biggest Super Fans of the game, "off-balance and uncertain."

"This forces them to make strategic decisions based on the little information they may have or assumptions they may be forced to make," Jeff noted.

"If you come into Survivor 41 assuming everything will be the same as before, you are probably going to get burned."

In another fun twist, viewers will also be able to test their own Survivor skills by playing "The Game Within the Game," allowing young Super Fans the opportunity to spot a hidden rebus puzzle within the episode and solve it each week.

"It's a way for future Survivor players to see if they have what it takes to compete! Each week, there will be a hidden puzzle somewhere within the episode. They'll have to find it, then solve it," Jeff said.

"It culminates at the end of the season and connects directly back to the real game with the players."

In a separate interview with Us Weekly, Jeff admitted not everyone will be pleased with the show's format changes and twists; however, producers are optimistic people will eventually come around.

"There's a history on Survivor. Every twist we've ever done people have hated in the beginning, going to back to Season 3 when we did the first tribe swap," Jeff told the magazine.

"Now if tribes don't get a switch, they're upset. It was the same with the [hidden Immunity Idol], it's the same with everything."

Jeff said he just had to remind Survivor's Season 41 players to "keep moving and beat the game."

"It is fast. You've got to earn everything. And even then, there's no guarantees that you'll keep it. That's Survivor right now, so buckle up," Jeff concluded.

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The 18 castaways looking to outwit, outplay and outlast their opponents include a rancher, a former NFL player, a neurosurgeon, a pastor, a cyber security analyst, a grocery clerk, and a flight attendant when Survivor premieres its new season with a two-hour episode on Wednesday, September 22 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.

After Survivor debuts its 41st season on September 22, the show will continue to air new episodes on Wednesday nights in its normal timeslot of 8-9PM ET/PT beginning on September 29.


About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.