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Fortnite Looks Like A Totally Different Game Thanks To Unreal Engine 5.1 Improvements

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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Fortnite made waves in the last week after an update to Unreal Engine 5.1 added Nanite and Lumen support to the battle royale. The improvements vastly increase graphical fidelity, to the point where Epic's battle royale looks like a totally different game.

The latest update not only adds Nanite and Lumen support for PC, but also on PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series S|X earlier this week. The improvements mean better lighting, better, more detailed geometry across the scene, as well as better shadow maps with every modeled item in the game casting a realistic shadow. 

Lumen might be of most importance for console players, as it adds software-based ray tracing to Fortnite, with reflections on water and glossy surfaces. It also enables real-time global illumination, bounce lighting, and more, giving a more realistic look across the battle royale.

I've spent some time in-game this week, and man, it looks like a totally new game as a result. I've found myself spending more time in awe of the visuals now instead of hunting players (though, I did come in second one match, which is the closest I've ever gotten to a Battle Royale myself). Fortnite impresses on PC, especially when you flip on the hardware-accelerated ray tracing options, letting loose the full power of the 40-series GPU in my rig. 

What was more impressive was booting up my PlayStation 5, hopping into a match, and not seeing any dips below 60 fps during intense action. I was apprehensive that we would see either a real degradation of the visuals or an unstable framerate. Still, Epic has done a stellar job ensuring the stability of Fortnite even with the bells and whistles enabled on the new-gen console.

For an incredibly deep-dive look at the new update, Digital Foundry has released a video, showing Fortnite's UE 5.1 transformation in its full glory. You can check it out in the embed below.


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore