Epic Games has announced that Fortnite Creative Mode will be updated in 2021 with a slew of Unreal Engine 5 creation tools, including the ability to import custom assets, dramatically increasing the range of possibilities Fortnite players have when making custom maps.
Epic announced the new features in its annual end-of-year stream on Twitch. Epic developers demonstrated the technology by throwing a 3D mesh of Fortnite's Kevin the Cube into the map, then showing off all the Unreal editor tools that can be used to create different textures and geometry for objects.
This Unreal Engine support also includes Unreal's particle system toolset, Niagara, which allowed the developers to place a sparkly holographic globe over the cube and then customize its look.
Users can also use the "upload project" feature to take their content, upload it to Epic's cloud, and deliver to an in-progress game. This allows for real-time edits to the environment and objects, as demonstrated by Epic developers moving and altering the shape of Kevin the Cube while players dance around in the video at 1:05:20.
Epic is showing off its new features in Fortnite's Party Royale mode, so you can take a look at how the tech works with your own eyes.
Making this stuff would be PC only, unreal editor is PC only for obvious reasons.Video is of the live editing: pic.twitter.com/35U0mjwwSZDecember 17, 2020
Lead programmer Tim Tillotson, who helped launch Fortnite Creative, walked through a new scripting language that will let players change a bunch of parameters, such as items and player count, mid-match. Tillotson says that the system will continue to be worked on throughout 2021.
The Unreal Engine mod support is PC-only, although you'll be able to play with content on consoles.
"I think we still have to figure out moderation and what that looks like, so we're a little thoughtful there, but it's super powerful to be able to import your own assets and create your own content, and things that don't look like Fortnite," said Epic lead programmer Carlos Cuello.
"Remember, Fortnite is going to be moving to Unreal Engine 5 in 2021, so a lot of these features you've seen demonstrated on the high-end will become possible in this environment," said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. "It'll create a real interesting combination of Fortnite visual style plus photo-realistic content in creator worlds as well."
Fortnite Creative mode was already a treasure trove of community-developed creations, including fascinating maps for traditional multiplayer modes, narrative adventures, and survival horror experiments. The addition of these Unreal Engine 5 creation tools will undoubtedly result in bigger and more complex user-made maps and game modes. Mods often end up overshadowing the games they modify, so the potential is huge.
Don't expect this very soon, though. Epic seems to be making sure it's got content moderation and optimization fully figured out before throwing the new toolset into the wild.