Epic Games had a big presence at this year’s GDC. CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed that Unreal Engine 4 would be free-to-use and is the engine behind many anticipated games. Unreal 4 continues to be one of the easiest engines to develop, so easy in fact that anyone can download it, pull up tutorials and begin working with it. It’s this ease of use that spawned the latest Unreal Tournament, collaboration between the studio and its passionate community. We’ve had fan mods before, but never anything on this scale. The community is basically making the game with Epic Games.
Unreal Tournament and Quake were the de facto multiplayer shooters back in the 1990s, long before the rise of Call of Duty. Both franchises, however, have vanished in recent years. The last release was Unreal Tournament, which launched in 2007 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. That was over eight years ago and the time is right for a comeback. The industry is over-saturated with the current standard of First-Person Shooter, the time is right for the twitch shooter’s return.
What Epic can’t do is just port over a previous Unreal Tournament game. Times have changed and players expect their shooters to look and act a certain way. While you won’t find ADS in Unreal Tournament, you will find that the game’s UI has been overhauled to be a little more modern. The HUD has been modified to be less intrusive. In today’s world, destruction and high player counts have been popularized by the likes of Battlefield, and it’s possible that Unreal Tournament could incorporate these as well. Unreal Engine 4 can easily handle destruction, but such a feature would depend on the community. It’s a similar situation with higher player counts. Unreal 4 supports the feature, but it’s up to the community to create the maps to support the players.
With Unreal Tournament, it’s all about the community. Epic only has ten developers working on the project. There’s only so much that can be done with ten people, which is where the community comes in. Epic’s team up with franchise fans was an unexpected move, but is yielding fantastic results. Fans have embraced the opportunity to create content for Unreal Tournament with the hope of creating a game they want to play. Hopefully it will be a good game. Nothing like this has ever been done before, so it’ll be interesting to see the final results.
Epic is doing everything they can to make Unreal Tournament a success by giving creators the tools they need. The studio released a huge update to make creating that much easier. Including a revamped launcher, a customized Unreal Editor for Unreal Tournament and the new Unreal Tournament marketplace, this update has made it easier to create and share content. The marketplace itself is an interesting idea and could be profitable to the best creators. You see, Unreal Tournament is free, but players can pay cash for extra side-content found on the marketplace. Some of this content is Epic Games created and some will be user created. That’s right; Epic Games will allow user-created content to be sold on its marketplace and for the creators to make some extra cash. Of course, any content looking to be sold on the marketplace will require approval from Epic, but the idea that the company will actually allow users to create and sell their own content is amazing. There really aren’t any developers out there willing to do that.
Unreal Tournament is being developed specifically for PC. Epic knows its fanbase is on PC, and the PC doesn’t require long certification periods for updates and additional content. Despite this, they aren’t opposed to the possibility of bringing Unreal Tournament to PS4 and Xbox One, but that would be so far into the future that it’s not worth discussing right now. This is a PC game for PC gamers, PS4 and Xbox One players will have to wait and see.
There is no release date for Unreal Tournament, and the nature of the game may mean it’s never fully released. Epic Games and the community are working hard to make the game a reality, and it may never truly be done because there’s always more content to add and create, and more updates to release. Unreal Tournament is something special and could change the way games are developed forever.