Survivor 28
Credit: CBS

One season ends and another one begins. At the very end of Sunday’s Survivor: Blood vs. Water finale/reunion show, fans got their first sneak peek at the next installment of the longtime reality hit. Premiering in February 2014, Survivor: Cagayan (which filmed last summer in the Philippines) will feature 18 new contestants divided into three tribes: one of brains, one of brawn, one of beauty.

The twist is reminiscent of season 11 of Big Brother, which aired in 2009 and started the season off with players grouped into one of four different cliques: popular, athletes, brainiacs and off-beats. We spoke with Survivor host Probst, who says the groupings here reflect “the different qualities that people bring to Survivor. Not saying these necessarily are the only three, but these are three very distinct type of people.” Probst adds that the most intriguing element of giving people such labels is seeing how they will react to those labels. “It’s really interesting how that label either works or doesn’t for each individual,” explains Probst. “And what happens to the group dynamic. The brawn tribe is more aggressive. And they’re more sports-like. And they end up using euphemisms for things like, “Listen, we’re gonna give it our best shot today!” And the brains tribe has this enormous pressure out of the gate that “If there is a puzzle, we have to win. And if we don’t win, we’re the losers because we’re supposed to be the smart ones.” And it was really interesting to watch the beautiful people talk about their beauty and how charm gets them through life, and watch it play out in alliances.”

“The premise we were going for was kind of layered,” Probst continues. “Is there one quality that is clearly more valuable in Survivor? And what happens when you tell somebody they’re in the smart tribe. Do they believe it? And it turns out the IQ in the brains tribe was significantly higher than the other two tribes. It’s very high. And they knew that. They assumed it, and the felt the pressure. You can see it.”

Seeing as how only two of the past eight seasons of Survivor have featured all new players, and the two that did (Nicaragua and One World) are generally considered to be among of the show’s weakest outings, it is somewhat surprising that there are no returning players this time around. However, Probst says that returning to the show’s roots with all new players is a direct result of fan feedback. “For season 28, we listened to our fans,” says the host. “That was really it. They’ve been saying over and over, ‘We love the returning players, but we’d like to see a cast of new players.’ And that’s why we did it. That doesn’t mean we will do it again anytime soon and it doesn’t mean that we won’t do it. Season 29 could be all new players as well. We’re going to see how it plays and make decisions based on that.”

Either way, Probst seems confident that the show can continue its recent hot streak (the past three seasons have all ranked in my top 10 all-time). “I am optimistic that this will be another very good season,” says the host. “A lot happens. I feel really good about it.” Oh yeah, and check out the nifty new logo above!

Also check out Dalton’s ‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ finale/reunion recap and see our pre-game interviews with the players in the video player below. Check back Monday for new interviews with the final contestants as well as Jeff Probst’s thoughts on about the finale. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop all year round, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.