For those of us of a certain age, ‘Epic’ means ‘Unreal’ – but, of course, for those of you of a certain, rather younger age, ‘Epic’ means ‘Fortnite.’ A very stupid part of my brain couldn’t quite let go of the idea that all this cartoony battle royale business was just a temporary distraction for Epic, and soon enough they’d go back to making Unreal Tournament games – which, really, is a bit like thinking “why doesn’t Melania leave Donald and settle down with a nice, bookish boy who works at the local bodega instead?”
Well, Very Stupid Park Of My Brain, it’s time to get over it. Epic have confirmed there’s no longer any active development on Unreal Tournament.
The latest UT, confusingly named simply ‘Unreal Tournament’, began open development in 2014 and progressed with the input of (and maps/modes/mods from) the community in 2014 but was a long way off being whatever ‘finished’ even means for a videogame in the modern age, and hasn’t seen a meaningful update since last summer. So infrequent and undramatic were its updates that we’ve not posted about it for three years.
Thus, I was more surprised to hear that they’re making another Star Wars film than I was about official acknowledgement that there’s nothing doing with UT any more. Epic have got the colossal Fortnite, they’ve got the much-licensed Unreal engine, and now they’ve got their own Steam rival – UT is, quite simply, no longer where it’s at.
Biggest Epic cheese Tim Sweeney stopped short of telling Baron Crecente of Variety that UT was cancelled per se, but one does not have to search for much between the lines of a statement like “‘Unreal Tournament’ remains available in the store but isn’t actively developed” to get the gist of things. Indeed, UT is still out there, and free to download to boot, so if by “cancelled” you don’t mean “entirely scoured from existence” then sure, yeah, it’s not cancelled.
No surprises, really. Look, I loved UT as much as the next nineties & noughties PC gonk, but all that spiky sci-fi would probably need a huge aesthetic rethink to find the zeitgeist in 2018. Particularly because that zeitgeist is already Epic’s own Fortnite. Also, Epic have recent form for giving up on anything that isn’t making a Skaarj-ton of money/is not Fortnite – RIP Paragon, earlier this year.
However, at least Epic aren’t acting like the Unreal series is a shameful secret from its misbegotten, nerdy youth. “We’ve recently worked with GOG on making classic Epic Games titles available,” observed Sweeney, “and we’re planning to bring more of them to the store in their original glory.”
Facing Worlds 4 ever.