Epic Games today said its massive battle royale hit Fortnite would be available on Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5 consoles at launch later this year. Epic made the announcement alongside its reveal of Unreal Engine 5, its new game engine and developer toolkit designed for creating next-generation titles.
“Epic will release Fortnite, built with UE4, on next-gen consoles at launch and, in keeping with the team’s commitment to prove out industry-leading features through internal production, migrate the game to UE5 in mid-2021,” the company said in a blog post published today. Epic says all progress and purchases will carry over, and it will support cross-play across generations and will “continue support for existing platforms in tandem with our support for next-generation consoles.”
It’s no surprise Fortnite, which has more than 350 million registered players and is one of the biggest and most lucrative games on the planet, is coming to next-gen hardware. Both Microsoft and Sony have pledged to support nearly the entirety of their respective Xbox One and PS4 libraries through backwards compatibility thanks to the architecture of new consoles enabling them to play older software, which wasn’t possible with past generations. That means most games will work on the new consoles, even if developers do nothing.
Epic says it’s not just porting Fortnite over to the new hardware for launch, but it’s also planning to optimize it so it runs best on the new consoles in time for the launch of UE5 in 2021. That means this fall, we might see Fortnite take advantage of some of the system-level changes the consoles provide, like faster load times. Epic isn’t quite saying what the launch version of Fortnite on PS5 and Xbox Series X will entail.
But next year, Epic says Fortnite will definitely be able to tap into the full scale of hardware and software benefits the consoles provide, including the data storage and management benefits the new M.2 solid-state drives will support and the graphical and performance benefits the new CPU and GPUs will enable.
Epic isn’t yet disclosing what to expect next year in terms of higher frame rates on consoles or new graphics benchmarks to look forward to. But the company prides itself on making Fortnite work across as many platforms and devices as possible and to look as good as it can on whatever hardware it’s running on, as that type of scalability and compatibility is now a key feature and selling point of the Unreal Engine.
“No, this is not a new version of Fortnite. It’s Fortnite optimized to take advantage of the new hardware and features on next-gen consoles,” the company explained. “How will Fortnite take advantage of next-gen console hardware? While we can’t share specifics at the moment, more powerful hardware will allow us to improve performance and visuals.”
So we can expect Fortnite to continue being a showcase for what Epic can do. And not just in the graphics department, but in all the technology — from cross-platform matchmaking to huge-scale live events — that runs under the hood and makes the game a pretty impressive showcase for Epic’s broader products.