Fortnite Chapter 4 debuts with Unreal Engine 5.1

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Fortnite Battle Royale Chapter 4 arrived today, and it uses Unreal Engine 5.1, Epic Games announced.

The debut shows how closely Epic Games ties the overall strategy together. Fortnite is the main revenue generator 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 advancements 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 Unreal Engine 5 ushers in a generational leap in visual fidelity, bringing a new level of detail to game worlds like Battle Royale Island.

Shadows and lights are better in Fortnite with Unreal Engine 5.1.

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 over half of all announced next-gen games will be made with the Unreal Engine. And it said developers can now take advantage of updates to the Lumen dynamic global lighting and reflection system. These are important things if you are a game developer or you expect to build the metaverse.

Epic has made updates to the Nanite virtualized micro-polygon geometry system, and virtual shadow maps that lay the foundation for games and experiences that run at 60 frames per second (fps) on next-gen consoles and 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 allow material-driven animations and deformations 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, such as Nanite-based foliage with leaves blowing in the wind.

Nanite provides highly detailed architectural geometry. Specifically, buildings are rendered from millions of polygons in real-time, and every brick, stone, wooden plank, and wall decor is modeled. Natural landscapes are also very detailed. Individual trees have around 300,000 polygons, and every rock, flower and blade of grass is modelled.

On top of that, Lumen reflections provide high-quality ray-traced reflections on glossy materials and water.

Water and shadows look nicer in Fortnite Battle Royale Chapter 4.

Lumen also provides real-time global illumination at 60 frames per second (FPS). You’ll see beautiful interior rooms with bouncing lighting, plus characters that react to the lighting in their surroundings. (For example, red carpets can bounce red light onto your outfit.) Also, outfits that have emissive (aka glowing) properties will scatter light onto nearby objects and surfaces.

Virtual Shadow Maps allow for highly detailed shading. Every brick, leaf and modeled detail will cast a shadow, and self-shading of characters is extremely accurate. This means that things like hats and other small details on characters will also cast shadows.

Temporal Super Resolution is an upgrade over Temporal Anti-Aliasing in Fortnite, allowing for high-quality images at high frame rates.

With the introduction of these UE5 features in Fortnite Battle Royale, Fortnite’s video settings have changed on PC. You can see them here.

To run Nanite, the minimum hardware requirements are Nvidia Maxwell generation cards or later or AMD GCN generation cards or later.

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 the “120 FPS Mode” setting (in the “graphics” section of the video settings) is set to off.

Unreal’s reach has grown far beyond games. Unreal Engine has now been used on over 425 film and television productions, and is integrated into over 300 virtual production stages worldwide. Unreal Engine use in animation has grown exponentially, from 15 productions between 2015 and 2019 to over 160 productions from 2020 to 2022.

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