Halo Infinite Won’t Get Story DLC, Series Switching To Unreal

A image shows a group of Spartans from Halo standing together.

Image: Microsoft / 343

Things are changing at Halo developer 343 Industries following massive layoffs across Microsoft—including reportedly 95 people at the Halo developer. The studio is switching to Unreal Engine, has no plans to make more story content for 2021’s Halo Infinite, and continues trying to figure out what to do with a supposed Halo battle royale spin-off still in development.

In a report out today from Bloomberg, it appears 343 is basically starting from scratch with Halo. According to people familiar with the studio’s plans, the company isn’t actively working on new campaign DLC or updates for Halo Infinite. Instead, before the layoffs, developers at 343 were reportedly working on prototypes for new Halo games and projects in Unreal instead of designing new content for Infinite. And according to the report, many of those devs have since been laid off.

It’s also reported that the studio has, after nearly a decade of debate, decided to finally switch to Unreal. While there were internal concerns about how future Halo projects made with Unreal will play, the current tech—known as Slipstream—is apparently a pain to work with and is based on decades-old code at this point. Bloomberg’s report even mentions that two multiplayer modes for Halo Infinite—Extraction and Assault—are nearly done but haven’t been implemented yet due to issues with the aging Slipstream tools and tech.

This switch to Unreal will apparently start with a brand new Halo game internally code-named “Tatanka.” Reportedly, this game is being developed by both 343 and Texas-based studio Certain Affinity, a team that has a long history of working on previous Halo projects. It seems Tatanka started out as a battle royale but could “evolve in different directions.”

Kotaku has contacted Microsoft about the reported engine switch and campaign DLC.

Halo Infinite was supposed to be a big, 10-year game for Xbox and 343. And while it launched to rave reviews, it has since become a punching bag for Halo fans who find its updates lacking and its road map too sparse. It now seems like those long-term plans focused around Infinite aren’t quite the future anymore. In an email obtained by Bloomberg that was reportedly sent to staff by new 343 studio boss Pierre Hintze, the current plan for the Halo studio is to support “a robust live offering” for Halo Infinite and its Forge mode while also “greenlighting our new tech stack” for future Halo projects.

Jedi Knight Opening Remade In Unreal, Playable

Image for article titled Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight Levels Remade In Unreal, Actually Playable

Screenshot: YouTube

This is now, by my count, the fourth time we’ve posted about a Dark Forces x Unreal Engine remake. It is, however, the first time I’ve been able to post about one that is downloadable and properly playable by you, today, right now.

Previous attempts have either been graphical showcases or tech demos, but this latest effort—by Ruppertle—is fully interactive, containing not just two storyline missions from Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, but some sandbox and endless modes to enjoy as well.

“The goal was to recreate one of my favorite games back from my childhood while keeping the base look, feeling and gameplay”, Ruppertle says. “After nearly 3 years of development the project is finally at a point where I feel ready to share it with you.”

You can find download links to the project in the description of this YouTube video, with the files containing “2 official levels from the original game, 4 survival levels, sandbox mode, 3D model viewer, bonus level for testing and some secrets…”

Here’s a trailer showing not just the graphical changes but some gameplay as well:

Jedi Knight – Dark Forces 2 – Unreal Engine – Release 1.0 – Free Download

I’m not 100% sold on some of the visual changes here; some of the environments look a little too busy now, where their previous sparseness had a certain Star Warsy charm to them. The characters and weapons look great, though, even in third-person.

If you want to take a look at some of the other Dark Forces/Jedi Knight projects I was talking about, they’re all worth a look because they’re all trying something different. This one, for example, imagined the original game with a modern interface, while this one went to town rebuilding the first level of the original Dark Forces with some very fancy visuals.

Fortnite Is About To Blow Wide Open Thanks To The Unreal Editor

A YouTube thumbnail showcases the new cyberpunk and Attack on Titan skins coming to Fortnite Season 4 Chapter 2.

Image: Epic Games

Yesterday, Epic Games stunned the entire Fortnite playerbase with the announcement that an Unreal Editor add-on is coming to the mega-popular battle royale game.

Read More: Fortnite (?) Is Now One Of The Best-Looking Games On Earth (?!)

Fortnite’s Unreal Engine essentially promises to be a souped-up version of Roblox Corporation’s Roblox Studio.

“Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN) is a new PC application for designing, developing, and publishing games and experiences directly into Fortnite,” Epic Games wrote in the add-on description page. “With many of Unreal Engine 5’s powerful tools and workflows at your fingertips, including custom asset import, modeling, materials and VFX, Sequencer and Control Rig, you’ll have a whole new world of options for producing and publishing games and experiences for Fortnite that can be enjoyed by millions of players.”

Roblox 2 (Fortnite Edition)

UEFN works hand-in-hand with Fortnite’s in-game Creator mode making it possible for players on consoles and PC to craft to their and “test islands in real-time.” One aspect of UEFN that has fans geeked is that it has its custom asset import feature has the potential to allow players to import characters into Fortnite that Epic Games hasn’t included into its humongous archive of pop culture skins.

Another addition to Fortnite is Verse, a new language program that Epic claims will offer “powerful customization capabilities” like “manipulating or chaining together devices and the ability to easily create new game logic.”

Read More: Fortnite Gets Car Chases Cyberpunk 2077 Never Had, Jet Set Radio Grinding

Unreal Editor makes for yet another strong addition to Fortnite. Last week, Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 2 fully cemented the battle royale game as a movement shooter with its Cyberpunk 2077-esque car chases with Akira bike slides (naturally) and its Jet Set Radio-style rail grinding. Chapter 4 season 2 also added Attack on Titan protagonist-turned-antagonist Eren Jaeger skin and his 3D maneuver gear mobility into Fortnite as well. Fortnite has come a long way from being yet another early access base-building zombie-smashing game from 2017.

Fortnite’s Unreal Editor is slated to release on March 22.

Unreal Videos Give Us A Glimpse At The Graphics Of The Future

Epic Games held a little showcase at the Game Developers Conference earlier today, called State of Unreal. Designed as a way to keep everyone who makes games up to date on what’s in store for the industry-dominating Unreal Engine, the highlights are also obviously interesting to anyone who plays games as well.

Both Epic and some external studios took the opportunity to show off some of the stuff they’ve been working on in Unreal Engine 5. The shortest video, and perhaps most impressive, is this clip from Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, which highlights some incredible facial animation capabilities (using Metahuman, which we’ve written about previously):

State of Unreal – Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II | GDC 2023

It still doesn’t look real, there’s something about the exaggeration of the lips and her teeth that I can’t fully explain, but it still looks amazing.

Another subject of the technical showcase was action RPG Lords of the Fallen, with a more conventional look at how games are made using the engine:

Lords of the Fallen – State of Unreal Technical Showcase Trailer GDC | Wishlist: PC, PS5 & Xbox X/S

Next up is this gameplay demo from Infinitesimals, a backyard bugs game that I’m pretty sure was first announced years ago, but which is still in development. This clip is a little more developer-focused, but still gives you a look at how Unreal Engine 5 handles the scale of a large open world:

Infinitesimals – Unreal 5 Gameplay Demo | State of Unreal 2023

And finally we’ve got this driving video, which is not just an ad for Unreal Engine and Epic’s Quixel, but for EV company Rivian as well (their car’s dash screens run on the Unreal Engine). This one is showing off some lovely foliage, along with some impressive driving physics as well (it’s particularly neat how the car will hit small rocks that will then fly away):

Unreal Engine 5.2 – Next-Gen Graphics Tech Demo | State of Unreal 2023

While it’s expected to take everything shown at these presentations with a grain of salt, it’s encouraging that three of the four videos here were of actual games currently in development, meaning that the usual “well, your actual games aren’t going to look this good” caveats we normally need on these posts aren’t quite as needed here.

Fortnite’s Unreal Editor Brings Back OG Map, Which You Can Play

A village next to a river in Fortnite OG Battle Royale.

Screenshot: Atlas Creative

Last week, Epic Games announced that it would graft its industry-standard game engine into the most popular battle royale game on earth. Fortnite content creators are using the Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN) to create all sorts of wild shit, including the original Fortnite map as it existed in chapter one, season three.

It’s not an official release from Epic, but the OG map comes from one of its partnered marketing companies. And the classic map looks so much better in the new engine. The current Fortnite map has snowy and mountainous terrain in its southern regions, but the old map is all lush, forested green. It’s a nostalgia trip for anyone who’s been playing Epic’s battle royale since 2018. Five years later, they can finally relive the good old days.

Read More: Fortnite Is About To Blow Wide Open Thanks To The Unreal Editor

There are some differences between the original Fortnite map and the new OG Battle Royale map recreation. Epic limits creators to 100,000 individual prop pieces. So the developers removed the grass, the jail location, floor loot, supply drops, some props, and certain gameplay mechanics. In total, around a fourth of the original OGBR content has been removed. The official Discord says that the developers are working to restore some of the prison area, but some of the cosmetic cutbacks will be permanent.

fortnite chapter 1 map

The game currently supports solo mode for 30 to 50 players, and the developers say they plan to raise that number to 100 in the near future. There are also technical limitations beyond the memory restrictions. For example, the developers deemed it “impossible” to restore the weapons to their original forms. Sprinting and mantling, movement abilities in current Fortnite that didn’t exist back in chapter one, have been removed. Bugs are still being fixed, but you can access the beta by entering 2179-7822-3395 in the island code section underneath the “Discover” tab.

The OGBR may be a remake of an older map, but the launch of UEFN is going to bring a ton of fascinating new creations to Fortnite as well. And the technology is only going to evolve as Epic further incorporates their engine into their most popular game.

Fortnite Players Are Already Making Incredible Things With Unreal

A person with a gun hides behind some crates as a giant robot approaches.

Image: Epic Games

This week, Epic Games revealed Unreal Editor for Fortnite, a toolset that expands on the battle royale’s existing creator resources and could completely revolutionize the game in the process. Players have wasted no time offering glimpses into that potential, using the new tools for everything from recreating scenes from famous games like Grand Theft Auto V to dreaming up entirely new experiences.

The public beta for Unreal Editor went live yesterday, giving anyone who’s interested a chance to start making their own games within Fortnite. Making use of some of the tools found in the broader Unreal Engine, the editor also lets players take advantage of a new programming language called Verse that Epic says will help streamline some of the process while also offering more customization. The company is also promising to pay out a generous share of its revenue from the game in order to compensate creators for their work (we’ll see how that part shakes out once the initiative gets further underway).

Since the announcement, players have gotten to work on Mario Kart race tracks, Counter-Strike levels, and meme fodder like a giant Shrek tearing through downtown. Creators who had time with the editor prior to the reveal have been able to achieve even more impressive results, like a recreation of GTA V’s Grove Street. Epic’s own trailer for the announcement capped off with a dramatic and impressive mech boss fight that looks at first glance like something out of Titanfall or Metal Gear. Copyright infringement concerns will likely keep some of these creations out of the game, but the results, and their speed, are still impressive.

In a recent interview with The Verge, Epic co-founder and CEO Tim Sweeney positioned these new tools as one more step on the road to helping create the metaverse. With the consolidation of Epic’s asset stores, and the promise of importing pre-made stuff directly into Unreal, the idea is that in the long run certain games will be able to share characters, skins, and other things in a way they can’t right now.

Epic was notably at the forefront of pushing Microsoft and Sony to open up cross-play between Xbox and PlayStation, though the question of who gets the money for the stuff you buy in-game remains a complex one to solve. What’s clear from how fast players are making cool stuff with Unreal Editor is that Fortnite is now the least interesting thing about Fortnite.

Fortnite’s New Unreal Editor Has Limits On What Fans Can Make

Last week, Epic Games revealed its exciting new Unreal Editor for Fortnite, which gives players incredible freedom to design their own unique experiences within the battle royale. Already, they’ve made everything from chapter one map to recreations of Mario Kart maps and original game ideas. While the tool opens up a wide variety of options for creators, it also comes with stipulations as to what fans can and can’t make–along with what they can monetize.

Read More: Fortnite’s Unreal Editor Used To Recreate Original Map, And You Can Play It

The toolset arrives shortly after the early access launch of the second iteration of its creator economy, wherein Epic uses “engagement metrics,” to determine what of the 40% of the net revenue from the Item Shop will be distributed and to whom. Essentially the program aspires to pay creators based on how much their content gets used. “Players can show support,” Epic’s guidelines state, “for their favorite creators’ islands simply by playing them.” As is to be expected, there are terms and conditions, specifically around intellectual property. Epic Games says players can only remake the first chapter’s map, but you may not monetize it. And, you’re not allowed to recreate anything that violates someone else’s “intellectual property,” even if you “never intend to publish it to Fortnite.

On March 23, Epic Games published a blog post restating that no one is allowed to use “anyone’s intellectual property without their permission” in the creator program. Importantly, the post states that you’re not even allowed to create such things, let alone publish or monetize them (Epic Games re-emphasized that first point in a follow up blog a day later). The exception to this rule is for chapter one maps, but you still can’t monetize those.

In an interview with Fortnite content creator SinX6, Tim Sweeney, Epic Games’ CEO, clarified that this is to avoid “creating a precedent that totally breaks down in the future,” and that you also can’t create maps from other games, like Call of Duty.

SinX6

Messaging around these rules and “intellectual property,” however, still is a little confusing. Map creators in other games, for example, have long seen recreations of iconic locations from previous games and other franchises. It seems clear that an exchange of money over such things could raise legal issues, but mandates that unmonetized maps won’t be allowed are raising concerns among some creators who are simply creating tributes or reimaginings of classic game locations. Kotaku has reached out to Epic Games to clarify how strict this policy actually is, though it’s possible we may see things heavily inspired by obvious sources that are simply named something else that’s clever.

The Most Powerful Water Gun In The World Looks Unreal

Fellow mischief-makers, a new toy of soft destruction awaits our consideration. It’s called the SpyraThree, and it claims to be the world’s most powerful water gun. Based on its specs, I’m inclined to believe it. With a “tactical display,” three firing modes, and an auto-pressurizing reload feature, this thing looks like it was pulled straight out of Apex Legends. I need one yesterday, damn it.

Spyra first hit the tactical water gun scene back in 2018 with a Kickstarter for its first model, the SpyraOne. The battery-powered device was notable for its ease of reloading: Simply dip it into any body of water and it would refill itself automatically—no pumping required—and it boasted a firing range of 25 feet. The new SpyraThree, however, has a base range of just over 30 feet, with a “PowerShot” that’ll expand the range to 50. I’m surprised you don’t need a license to use this…then again, it resembles a gun, so living in America at least, I probably shouldn’t be surprised at that. It does cost $179, so it ain’t cheap, but uh, summer’s around the corner folks, so start saving your chewing gum money.

At just under five pounds, it weighs about half of a PlayStation 5 and has a total length of 27 inches. The tactical display positioned just below the iron sights (plastic sights?) should be familiar to most gamers and will let you know how much battery juice and ammo (water) you’ve got left.

According to The Verge, that battery life will get you through 100 reloads of 22 shots, each blast packing 30ml of water. Volume wise, that’s about half of an average-sized 5-Hour Energy Drink per shot, or about the size of a standard NyQuil dose cup. (No word from Spyra as to whether the SpyraThree is recommended for administering medicine. I’m going to assume yes.)

You’ll get three fire modes: “freestyle” fires a single shot; burst fires a three-round burst that’d make Master Chief very happy; and a “League mode” simulates ammo clips and occasionally needs “reload” periods. Spyra adds on its page that, “Individual shots are strong but not painful. Part of the fun factor is that you feel the hit, but shouldn’t be knocked out by it.”

That’s nice. I think it’s great when water guns don’t cause you to lose consciousness. Really good feature. And, side note, those M. Night Shyamalan aliens are fucked.

 

Looks Like Epic Quietly Cancelled An Unreal Tournament Release

Unreal Tournament

Image: Unreal Tournament

In December 2022—so, only a few months back—Epic decided to close a bunch of servers for old Unreal Tournament games. This was bad news for long-suffering fans, but it was met with one small silver lining: Epic leaked/announced plans to re-release Unreal Tournament 3, for free, “no strings attached”.

An update on Unreal Tournament 3’s Steam page—which was left public and accessible for months—revealed the game would feature cross-play across all three of the PC’s major shopfronts (Steam, Epic Games Store and GOG) and Epic said wrote on the page “No microtransactions and no strings attached. This is the fully-featured, award-winning first-person shooter you fell in love with… completely free.”

Turns out there was at least one string attached, though, because as pointed out in this Wario64 tweet, the game has now simply disappeared, with all mentions on Unreal Tournament 3’s Steam page of there being a new, free version having recently been removed. Meanwhile if you search for Unreal Tournament on Epic or GOG you get zero results.

Asked for confirmation of the release’s cancellation, an Epic spokesperson told Kotaku “we have nothing to share”. Man, this sucks! The server shutdowns were bad enough, but if this release has been cancelled as well that means there will be zero Unreal Tournament games available on any of the three biggest shopfronts on the PC. And this is the second time something like this has happened, after Epic cancelled an earlier Unreal Tournament reboot in 2018.

UT was a huge series, and while its later games didn’t have quite have the same impact, its earlier titles were foundational in the development of the multiplayer first-person shooter as we know it today. To see the series’ legacy neglected like this—by the company who originally released it, no less—is a huge bummer to fans now having to rely on community servers and piracy to play the games.

Phantom Liberty Is Cyberpunk’s Only Expansion Because Of Unreal

A Cyberpunk 2077 image shows a woman swap out cyber face wear.

Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red says its upcoming expansion, Phantom Liberty, will serve as the game’s one and only expansion because of its “technological decision” to move from CDPR’s own REDengine technology to Unreal 5.

During a Q&A portion of CD Project Red’s earnings call on Wednesday (h/t Video Games Chronicle), Michał Nowakowski, CD Projekt Red’s senior vice president of business, reiterated the developer’s previously stated stance on not making a second expansion to Cyberpunk 2077—regardless of whether or not Phantom Liberty’s sales do gangbusters—saying “the decision [not to] had already been made.”

He continued:

As we have announced a long time ago, we’re not going to make a second or third [Cyberpunk 2077] expansion. This is the only expansion of the game, and it has nothing to do with the numbers and how satisfied or not we are with sales or anything of the kind. It’s a technological decision to be honest. This is the last time we’re working on the REDengine for the time being at least, and in the foreseeable future as you know we are working on the Unreal Engine from Epic. This was one of the key reasons why we decided this was the only [Cyberpunk expansion].

Cyberpunk 2077

Read More: Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty’s New Abilities Look Like Mortal Kombat Fatalities

Last year, CDPR announced its “multi-year strategic partnership with Epic Games” to develop a new Witcher game as well as a remake of the original 2007 Witcher video game, which is being built from the ground up in Unreal Engine 5 by Polish studio Fool’s Theory.

Phantom Liberty, which will overhaul major gameplay mechanics and flesh out the Cyberpunk 2077 world alongside a free version 2.0 update, will release on September 26.

   

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