Unreal Tournament (upcoming video game)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 4|
Unreal Tournament is an upcoming first-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games. It is the ninth installment in the Unreal franchise, and the first main entry in the series since Unreal Tournament 3 (2007). The game utilizes Epic's Unreal Engine 4 and will be released for free on Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux.
Unreal Tournament's development is crowdsourced and open to contribution from anyone. Epic Games has been using forums for discussions and Twitch livestreams for regular updates. The source code of the game is published on GitHub and available for everyone.
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Gameplay will remain largely unchanged from past iterations of the Unreal Tournament series. So far, the confirmed gametypes are:
- Capture the Flag — Players compete to infiltrate the enemy base, capture the enemy flag and deliver it to their base. Competitive teams must use a great deal of teamplay. Both teams must defend the base from incoming attackers and get into the other team's base, take their flag and return to base. This requires that the team protect their flag carrier very well from enemies in order to complete their objective. If the flag carrier is killed, or teleports using a translocator, the flag drops to the ground for anyone to pick up.
- Deathmatch — A classic "every-man-for-himself" player vs. player combat. The objective is to out-frag all opposing players. The player who achieves the frag limit first, wins. Suicidal kills reduce the frag count by one.
- Duel — A one versus one game mode. An addition to the gametype is that when respawning, the player can choose between two random spawnpoints.
- Showdown — Team game without weapon respawns, where each player picks a spawnpoint before the round starts. Dead players don't respawn and have to wait until the round ends, at which point the surviving team scores. To avoid stalemates, the power-up unique to the game mode, "Overcharge", spawns at 50 seconds before the round time runs out, which grants whoever picks it up a huge advantage.
- Team Deathmatch — Two teams duke it out in a quest for battlefield supremacy. The team with the most total frags wins.
- Assault — This game type is played with two opposing teams, one assaulting a "base" and the other defending it. The map is set up with a countdown timer and a number of objectives which the attacking team must complete (usually in sequence) such as destroying a power generator, entering an area, triggering a button, etc. The team who first attacks then defends, and attempts to defend for the entire time they attacked. This means one key element: speed. The faster the first team completes their attack, the lesser time they need to defend. If they can defend their base till the last second, they win the map. If the team defending first assaults the base faster than the other team, they win the map. If both teams defend for the maximum amount of time the map is a tie.
- Bombing Run — Each level has a ball that starts in the middle of the playing field. Players score by getting the ball through the enemy team's hoop. They score 7 points for jumping through the hoop while holding the ball, and 3 points for tossing the ball through the hoop. The ball can be passed to teammates, and is dropped if the player carrying it is killed.
- Warfare — Two teams fight a war to destroy the other team's core (which looks like a giant orb) located in their base. To damage the enemy core, the player must first control a series of nodes that link together to form a chain between the two opposing cores. To capture a node controlled by the enemy, he must destroy it with their weapons then touch the platform to create a new node in their color. Nodes behave similarly to unmanned vehicles, in that they can take damage and be repaired using a link gun. When a node has been captured, any nodes connected to it can be captured/destroyed, as well. Once a team controls a chain of nodes leading to the enemy core, players can damage the core by firing on it (the core cannot be repaired), though it requires a lot of damage. The round ends when a team's core has been destroyed. This is very similar to the classic "Onslaught" game type, except that Warfare also includes special orbs that players can carry to a node to instantaneously change it over to their team's color (even if the enemy controls it still) with full health, though it still must be linked to one of their nodes. This game type is less popular due to the initial learning curve, but players who have mastered it often report that it is their favorite game type because it offers much more room for strategy than the other game types. Warfare matches usually have vehicles, as well.
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Unreal Tournament was first teased on May 2, 2014, when Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games, tweeted about a possible reboot, "I love Unreal Tournament - So excited for the comeback! More next week!," resulting in a positive response from the gaming community, specifically the PC gaming demographic that largely grew up playing the previous games. Paul Meegan, vice president of product development at Epic, followed Rein's tweet with information about the future of Unreal Tournament. The game was announced by Epic in a Twitch livestream on May 8, 2014. During the livestream, senior programmer and project lead Steve Polge said that there had been demand for a reboot of the Unreal Tournament and that the release of the Unreal Engine 4, made this the ideal time to do so. He said, "For years, we’ve wanted to reboot Unreal Tournament, but we knew we had to do it in concert with developers and the mod community, and in an environment that sets them up with the proper tools to make it happen. Given the recent launch of UE4, we think this is the right time to move forward." These statements are in contrast to what Tim Sweeney said during the Game Developers Conference in March 2014. "We're not [planning on] shipping an Unreal Tournament game," CEO and founder of Epic Games said. "We have a lot of nostalgia for the game but we're actually not developing anything in the Unreal game universe at all at the moment," he further added. But this might have been an attempt to keep the project a secret and "keep people off the trail", suggested Forbes.
The development of the game officially began on May 8, 2014, the same day of the announcement. Unreal Tournament is being developed using Unreal Engine 4 in the open in close collaboration between Epic Games and the community. Although an Unreal Engine 4 subscription is required to fully contribute (all the code is accessible in a GitHub repository), Unreal Tournament fans are still able to comment and share ideas on the company's forum. In an interview with PC Gamer, Steve Polge said that Epic "will have a very open and inclusive process for establishing how the core of Unreal Tournament evolves. We'll build consensus and make sure the community buys into the direction we establish together. Design questions will be discussed on the forum and in regular Twitch streams, and the decision process will be inclusive and transparent. Players will be able to make their voice heard, and participate meaningfully in setting the direction of development. We will release playable alpha versions and use those to get hands-on feedback from players as well. Epic realizes that we are ultimately responsible for making sure that the core game is awesome and we'll get there with the contributions of our community." Polge is confident that the opening out of its processes will give Epic a stronger sense of what players want from the game. "A lot of companies spend tens of thousands of hours of development on a game and only then do market research testing to determine what people like," he told Edge magazine. "From that point, it’s hard to pivot. Especially with Unreal Tournament, we have fans that have been passionate about the franchise for years and have valuable insight and opinions about how we should evolve. Getting that from day one is going to help us make a better experience, with them and for them."
During a Twitch livestream held on July 24, 2014, art director Chris Perna showed off a fully rendered but unfinished level in the Unreal Engine editor and talked about the overall look he wants to have in the game, drawing on the Batman films to illustrate his point. "To me, Unreal —and the entire franchise— has always been, I used to use this term a lot, a Tim Burton Batman-type of caricature of itself. And where I'd like to go with the new franchise is more of a Chris Nolan kind of Batman Begins...just something a little more polished, a little more realistic, but without going over the top and doing kind of like what we did with Gears of War or Unreal Tournament 3 and making everything dark and grimy and grungy. I think you can still have detailed environments that look amazing, and add color, and have visual clarity —and have your cake and eat it, too, basically." A video released five days later via Unreal Tournament's YouTube channel, shows early footage of the game, with the development team playing the first round of Team Deathmatch. It is also taken up by discussions of what the development team is working on. This includes adding in almost all of the weapons and more complex levels.
A month later, a playable pre-alpha build was released. Originally, the build was only available to UE4 subscribers but thanks to the way the game is being developed, an Unreal community member was able to compile Epic's prototypes and to released them to the public. According to the development community on the download page, it would be getting weekly updates. On September 5, 2014, Epic hosted an Unreal Tournament event, where several competitive players and enthusiasts from each generation of Unreal Tournament as well as some of the community contributors were invited to play the early prototype version of the game at Epic's headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. The event was meant for providing feedback on the gameplay.
As part of the announcement that Unreal Engine 4 would be now free, a new build of the game was showcased during the 2015 Game Developers Conference, offering its first high-textured map called Outpost 23, which is a new version of the level originally revealed in the game's first-in-engine flythrough in July 2014, a new customized Unreal Editor and new characters.
Since Unreal Tournament is being in part created by a community of volunteers, the game will be completely free when it is released. Epic Games stressed the point that it will be just free not free-to-play, meaning there will not be microtransactions or gameplay-affecting items. To pay for the game, it will eventually create a marketplace where developers, modders, artists, and players can buy and sell mods and content, or just give it away for free. Earnings from this marketplace will be split between the content creator and Epic.
When asked whether the decision to release the game for free was a reflection of a wider industry trend, Steve Polge told Edge: "It's certainly where we are placing our bets and it is our focus at Epic. We like the model because it's fundamentally generous. It allows us to succeed by doing the right thing for the community, and then the value naturally comes back. That's a lot more attractive to us than the old build, ship and pray model."
On November 13, 2014, it was announced that the popular ChaosUT mod would return in Unreal Tournament. ChaosUT was selected as one of three mods to be included on the "Game of the Year Edition" of the original Unreal Tournament.
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