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Fortnite Battle Royale Chapter 4 arrived today and uses Unreal Engine 5.1, Epic Games announced.
The debut shows how tightly Epic Games ties together its overall strategy. Fortnite is the main source of revenue for the company, reaching tens of millions of players who purchase in-game items. And Unreal Engine is the game developer tool that makes the progressions in Chapter 4 available. To sell developers on the engine, Epic is eating its own dog food by building Fortnite with Unreal to show off what it can do.
Unreal Engine 5.1 brings new features that make the game look and run better. Unreal Engine 5 itself debuted earlier this year and the Unreal Engine 5 heralds a generational leap in visual fidelity and brings a new level of detail to game worlds like the Battle Royale Island.
Next-gen Unreal Engine 5 features like Nanite, Lumen, Virtual Shadow Maps, and Temporal Super Resolution — all features that can make Fortnite Battle Royale shine on next-gen systems like PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, and cloud gaming.
Epic Games said that more than half of all announced next-gen games will be made with Unreal Engine. And it said developers can now take advantage of updates to Lumen’s dynamic global lighting and reflection system. These are important things if you are a game developer, or if you expect to build the metaverse.
Epic has made updates to the Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry system and virtual shadow maps that lay the foundation for 60 frames per second (fps) games and experiences on next-gen consoles and capable PCs. These improvements will enable fast competition and detailed simulations with no latency, Epic said.
In addition, Nanite has also added a programmable rasterizer to enable material-driven animations and distortions via world position offset, as well as opacity masks. This development paves the way for artists to use Nanite to program the behavior of specific objects, for example Nanite-based foliage with leaves blowing in the wind.
Nanite offers highly detailed architectural geometry. In particular, buildings are rendered in real time based on millions of polygons and every brick, stone, wood plank and wall finish is modeled. Natural landscapes are also very detailed. Individual trees have about 300,000 polygons, and every stone, flower, and blade of grass is modeled.
In addition, Lumen reflections provide high-quality ray-traced reflections on glossy materials and water.
Lumen also provides real-time global illumination at 60 frames per second (FPS). You’ll see beautiful interior spaces with reflective lighting, plus characters that react to the lighting of their surroundings. (For example, red rugs can reflect red light onto your outfit.) Also, outfits with emissive (aka glowing) properties will scatter light onto nearby objects and surfaces.
Virtual shadow maps enable highly detailed shadows. Every stone, leaf, and sculpted detail casts a shadow, and character self-shadowing is meticulously accurate. This means that things like hats and other small details on characters also cast shadows.
Temporal Super Resolution is an upgrade of Temporal Anti-Aliasing in Fortnite and ensures high quality images with a high frame rate.
With the introduction of these UE5 features in Fortnite Battle Royale, Fortnite’s video settings on PC have changed. You can see them here.
To use Nanite, the minimum hardware requirements are Nvidia Maxwell generation cards or newer or AMD GCN generation cards or newer.
In order for Nanite, Lumen, Virtual Shadow Maps and Temporal Super Resolution to be available in Fortnite on your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S, make sure that the “120 FPS Mode” setting (in the “graphics” section of the video settings) is disabled.
Unreal’s reach has grown far beyond games. Unreal Engine has now been used in over 425 film and TV productions and has been integrated into over 300 virtual production stages worldwide. The use of Unreal Engine in animation has grown exponentially, from 15 productions between 2015 and 2019 to over 160 productions from 2020 to 2022.
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