Epic Team Deathmatch: New Unreal Tournament Video

Oh good lens flare.

I know how game development works. I know you aim to have something playable as quickly as possible, and then test, iterate and repeat for potentially years. That doesn’t stop me being reflexively impressed that Epic are already playing team deathmatch in the new, community-driven Unreal Tournament. They’ve got all the weapons in, there’s a couple of new maps, and heck it already looks pretty fun in this three minute video of the devs playing and chatting about what they’re playing.

My favourite part is when one designer is talking to another about how the shape of a doorway makes it too easy to hide in cover, and how a larger corridor and curved wall might help. Hot level design chat! That curved wall thing is a clever idea.

But then someone uses the word “bro” and I can’t tell if it was ironic or not, so swings and roundabouts. Innit.

The new Unreal Tournament is being designed as a platform for community creativity as much as a game in its own right. Essentially, Epic will create a core set of weapons and maps and release those for free, and then players will be to use available Unreal Engine tools to create weapons, maps, models and game modes which they can then sell to other players through the in-game marketplace. The plan has thus far been most commonly compared to Valve’s Team Fortress 2 Steam Workshop, though it occurs to me now that it has more in common with things Nadeo were doing years ago.

Part of making this game in partnership with the community is that the Epic team are being open about every stage of the development process, by livestreaming their work, blogging regularly and soliciting feedback via their forums. If you have opinions about Shock Rifles, now is the time to speak up.

It’s still early days about the game, but we’ve already written a fair number of posts about the new Unreal: Nathan interviewed the devs about how it would work, and Ben mused on his enjoyment of the livestreams. It’s almost like we have opinions about Shock Rifles.

Here is my biggest concern about development so far: what is this game called? The post on the Epic blog only refers to it as Unreal Tournament and that’s what the logo says, too. Didn’t we already have a game called that? I was briefly unsure what the video above would be about when they said it was of them playing team deathmatch in Unreal Tournament.


  1. lordcooper says:

    I vote we call it Unrealer Tournament.

  2. 2late2die says:

    Gameplay looks great and it’s awesome to see this kind of “old school” stuff, but I do hope they’re gonna put some of the modern stuff in as well. I definitely don’t want it to be COD-like or anything, but some sort of leveling system won’t go amiss.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Yes it would.

    • shaydeeadi says:

      A levelling system is one of the absolutely worst parts of modern shooters to bring in. Why does watching your level go up draw people into a game more than just having high quality gameplay? It’s not like it’s a valid way to track if you are improving at the game, just how much you have played (and how many challenges you have farmed for extra points.) The last thing a new UT needs is a meaningless XP system.

    • devland says:

      Ef you and your level up system. [tips hat]

    • Unruly says:

      What would a leveling system accomplish in an arena shooter? Nothing. Tribes Ascend did that, and apparently tried to base their matchmaking on it, and all it did was frustrate people. And that would be the only reason to use a leveling system in a game like UT other than so players could wave their e-peen around by showing that they’ve sunk more time into the game than someone else. Because that’s essentially all a leveling system does in an FPS.

      What they need, especially if there’s going to be any kind of matchmaking system, optional or otherwise, is stat tracking that ties into it. Instead of relying on levels, like Tribes Ascend tried to do, they need to base your matchmaking on things like your average accuracy and KDR. Then, hopefully, you won’t get thrown into sessions where you’re completely outclassed by everyone around you.

      Just don’t make the rankings visible to players. Being trash-talked a bit by someone I’m getting handily beat by in my current match is one thing. Being told I’m a noob by someone just because I rank lower than them is another. One is pretty much standard fare for competition, the other is just being a jerkass.

      • derbefrier says:

        See basing skill on kdr and crap is exactly what I don’t want because all a good krd or accuracy could mean is you spend all your time sniping in the back of the level maybe only getting a couple kills per match. Now take someone like me who may have horrible kd ratio but can cap a flag 3 times before the other team figures out the hole in their defense. I may die a lot doing this hell when I played competitive TFC I had horrible kd ratios, always had more deaths than kills but I. Was a dedicated flag runner it wasn’t my job to get a lot of kills. I say fuck matchmaking and do it the old fashioned way with dedicated servers and let the community sort it out.

        • Unruly says:

          My point was that, if there’s any matchmaking system, they need to base it on something other than what amounts to a time-played score aka leveling, and for a shooter things like KDR and accuracy fit the bill much better overall. Are they perfect? No. I know that. But they give a better idea of who’s a decent player than “time-sunk overall.” And, if they’re done right, they could identify the campers. High accuracy and high KDR both? Probably a camping sniper whore. Moderate accuracy and KDR of around 1-ish? Probably a decent player all around. Add in a third number, like the general points that you score per kill/cap/assist and you can get an even better picture of someone’s ability. Especially when flag caps are worth a significantly higher number of points than kills/assists like they usually are. Guy comes out with 0 kills and 20 deaths, but leads the team in points? I want that guy on my team, because he gets shit done and probably won the match by capping everything.

          Also, while I agree on the dedicated servers and always will, I know that matchmaking is something that’s here to stay thanks to console-land. Be it in forced form like CoD/Titanfall, or in the form of an optional “Play Now” button like TF2/BF3. I kind of figure that, given the community driven nature of UT, that it’s going to be the latter form. And hopefully they go the route of BF3 and the like where it just tries to find a populated server with a decent ping based on your filters, but you never know until it’s out. It could be exactly the way Tribes Ascend did it, where Play Now dumped you into player-hosted games, but you had the option of searching for and joining a dedicated server if you wanted to do that. Which, honestly, was something that I kind of liked about T:A. The only bad part was that T:A’s matchmaking was based on level instead of anything that actually mattered, so after a while I just got my ass kicked all the time.

          CSB time: Playing the Battlefield games with my friends, we tend to fill the “gets shit done” role as a squad. We refuse to camp, are always moving to cap, and adjust our kits to fit the situation at hand. I can’t count the times we’ve been the sole reason for pulling a win out because we’ve been the guys who manage to break an enemy stranglehold. Hell, when I played Tribes 1 competitively my job was to be the base repairman. It was a lot harder than it sounds, wasn’t glamorous, but it was one of the most vital jobs because a broken base was wide open for enemy flag carriers. Didn’t lend itself to a good KDR, but it was essential to winning the match.So I know where you’re coming from on the CTF flag carrier thing. I was just using KDR/Accuracy as an example of a better metric than plain old time.

          • Baines says:

            CoD shows how bad KDR is as a measure of skill.

            KDR only has meaning in Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. It already is iffy in Team, as it doesn’t factor in assists and steals. If your style is heavy on meaningful assists, then you could be a real contribution to your team even if your personal KDR is low. If your style is heavy on stealing kills, then you can get a high KDR without being much of an asset.

            Trying to put meaning into KDR in modes focused on other objectives can be outright detrimental. CoD has had entire game modes wrecked by stat padders focusing on KDR rather than playing the objective. It also affects people’s willingness to play certain modes at all, or the quit out of a mode when it looks likely that they will see many deaths.

            But ignoring all that, KDR simply doesn’t work with balanced match making for one simple reason. No matter what your skill level is, if you spend most of your time playing people of roughly your skill level, your KDR should hover around 1.0. KDR isn’t a means to set up a balanced match, it is a means to afterwards (somewhat) judge whether a match was balanced.

            (If you happen to wonder how people can keep 4.0+ KDRs in CoD, it is because CoD intentionally did not attempt balanced matchmaking. That, and people playing for kills instead of the objective in non-DM modes. After MW3’s release, an Infinity Ward employee outright admitted that IW didn’t want balanced matchmaking because they realized that too many CoD players don’t actually want balanced matches. CoD players want to feel powerful. People who play for high KDR would be upset. People who like to call in multiple high level kill streak rewards in a single match would be upset. (And they argued that it would be harder to find matches if you were limited to a certain skill range, though they always seemed to ignore how DLC and other factors fractured the player-base and made it harder to find matches.) IW felt Death Streaks were a better solution than balanced matchmaking, as it let the KDR/Killstreak players get their power fix, but also let the people getting stomped on feel like they achieved something when their Death Streak gave them a boost.)

          • Unruly says:

            Which is why I advocated for a system of balancing things based on multiple numbers. Yes, KDR in a truly balanced match should approach 1, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used along with other things to get a decent measure of player skill. Just like how looking at a win/loss ratio isn’t necessarily reflective either because people can have hot/cold streaks or just get lucky. But that doesn’t stop people from looking at them and saying “ok, you’re rank X.”

            But if you look at an overall picture that includes things like accuracy %, KDR, overall points, time spent alive, etc. you can start going “Ok, people who perform in this range would be great/good, people in this other range are less so.” Then you give them a hidden ranking that’s used solely for matchmaking, and you have some mixed rankings in the matches. Maybe put the majority of people in the same rank, but then have one or two people per team who are the next rank higher so that there’s room to improve.

            I don’t know the exact specifics of how it should be done, and I won’t claim to. I’m just saying that with how powerful stat tracking has become it should be fairly trivial to design a system that uses multiple stats to create a profile of how well a player performs. Tweaking it to achieve balance while remaining challenging will be harder, but it’s not impossible. And hell, they could even assign players different ranks for different game modes.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Oh hell no.

    • derbefrier says:

      Please god no. Leveling systems are fine for other games but have no place in unreal tournament. On that note I hope there is no persistant stat tracking either. I want a game were people aren’t worried about their k\d ratio or how many times they have prestiged. I want the focus to stay on gameplay not dumb gimmicks that distract from that.

      • anon459 says:

        Agreed about stat tracking. There is definitely a noticeable difference in the way people play a game when k/d is displayed after a match versus when it is not. If k/d is displayed, nobody tries to cap flags and other objectives. Everybody just camps for kills and the game is no fun. Having a player stats page that displays overall k/d is barely any better, especially if it’s publicly visible.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      This is actually a subject worthy of its own post or thread on the forums. The appearance of leveling and progress systems everywhere and its influence on game design. When is it a force for good and when does it unbalance a game, benefiting older players? It also often feels manipulative, when it’s used for gating content, to artificially stretch your time with the game. Is it actually gameplay? Are there better alternatives?

    • TheAntiHick says:

      No. Just no.

    • BobbyFizz says:

      As there are so many games that have a leveling up system now, a simple, essentially pointless rank up system that does nothing more than display a little badge next to your name with a few dots and lines would keep people playing despite it’s irrelevance.

    • mvar says:

      here are my thoughts on the leveling system:

    • Geebs says:


    • P.Funk says:

      What exactly do people like about leveling systems? It never made any sense to me. I’m here to frag people.

      Whats more, to me I find game balance is always broken in games that rely on leveling. Games like TF2 were and mostly still are brilliantly balanced because everyone always has access to the same weapons and classes. It then becomes a game of skill and teamwork and all he other goodies.

      While we’re at it forget about stat tracking as a means to matchmake. Why do we do matchmaking these days? Is the internet experiencing an acute server box infrastructure shortage? Dedi servers are the only sensible way to play FPS games. They are what creates strong communities. Matchmaking is as lonely as being the guy stuck in an arena in Tron.

      You wanna know what else dedis do? They allow you to manage your own skill level. Some servers with great player bases can be very high skill level while other servers can be total noob zones. Why would a player want to have to rely on some algorithm to decide for them who they play against when they can do it just fine by looking at a server browser.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      All a leveling systems accomplishes is you having to put in 40 hours of gameplay before you can start learning how to play the game properly.

  3. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Weapon models seem to be directly imported from UT3, so that’s the mystery of how they made them so fast solved.

    It could be fun, but who knows. I really don’t like them calling it Unreal Tournament. That’s a game that people still play and it’s better than most of the stuff that studio has made since.

    • TheAntiHick says:

      Are you familiar with the term “placeholder?”

      • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

        Of course I assume they are placeholders, it was directed at Graham being impressed that “all the weapons are in”.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Because the art is obviously the ONLY element involved in recreating all the weapons in a whole different language.

  4. HiFiHair says:

    Needs more fistbump.

  5. newguy2012 says:

    Deck 16.

  6. feday says:

    Deck 16, November, Facing Worlds, Morpheus, and then there are the glorious assault mode maps.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Morpheus was glorious.

      I’m all in favour of the fast-paced, closed in maps that everyone else seems to point at when they fondly remember the old UTs, they were great, but my favourite were the maps that mixed open and closed, normal and low gravity, short and long range, fast and slow. Morpheus had that feel, and it was brilliant fun.

      • The First Door says:

        Morpheus and The Longest Yard are my two favourite maps in any shooter game. They were both just so deliciously perfect for some reason, I think because they both show off how useful certain weapons can be. In UT/Morpheus’ case, it just played perfectly with the Shock Rifle, a weapon which made punting people into space just utter fun!

  7. sairas says:

    If it sports an impact hammer, I’m game.

  8. baozi says:

    That music

  9. XhomeB says:

    Looks really, really nice. Feels so good a skill-based shooter like this is actually being worked on.
    The overall movement seems to be a bit slower than I’d like, but to the best of my knowledge, such things are still being tweaked.

  10. Geebs says:

    Who stands still between firing off the shock rifle’s secondary attack and blowing it up with the primary? Noobs.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Never really did the hang of that when moving, for my shame.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      The group I played with always saluted players who did stationary combos- “That was an outstanding combo!”

  11. pupsikaso says:

    “Curves? What, like Apple? You know son, back in my UT99 days we had no curves! And we had to walk in the storm for hours to get our lightmaps baked!”

  12. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    It’s nice to see that Neoduck got a job at Epic- I remember some of his work from UT2004, had a great time with the stuff he made.