Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1: New Graphics, Lumen, and everything that's changed

Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1 is giving Chapter 4 Season 1 some insane vibes (Image via Epic Games/Fortnite)
Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1 is giving Chapter 4 Season 1 some insane vibes (Image via Epic Games/Fortnite)

Fortnite graphics received a major update alongside the launch of Chapter 4 Season 1, which now uses the Unreal Engine 5.1. It features numerous improvements and customization options over the previous version, which was first introduced when Chapter 3 was launched in December of 2021.

While the differences are subtle, they impact the game in numerous ways. Reflections look incredible, the water looks outstanding, and when trees and other objects are destroyed, the effects look stunning to say the least.

In short, many state that the game looks very different from Fortnite when Unreal Engine 5.0 was in use. In the general opinion of the community, the game has never looked as good as it does now. With that said, here's some in-depth information on what's new in Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1.

Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1 takes the metaverse experience to a whole new level

While the release notes for the Unreal Engine 5.1 update are massive, the developers have provided a short version of things that have specifically affected Fortnite. Here is the list of changes:


The grass looks incredible! (Image via Epic Games)
The grass looks incredible! (Image via Epic Games)

Nanite is a virtualized geometry system. It provides highly-detailed architectural geometry in-game. Buildings and structures are now rendered from millions of polygons in real time. Each stone, brick, wood-plank, and wall-trim is modeled.

Natural landscapes have become highly-detailed too. Individual trees now have around 300,000 polygons, much like structures and other assets. Individual flowers and blades of grass are now modeled. This change can clearly be seen when players take a walk through grassy meadows in-game or look at structures minutely.


Houses have never looked this good in-game (Image via Epic Games)
Houses have never looked this good in-game (Image via Epic Games)

Lumen reflections provide high-quality ray-traced reflections on in-game objects, such as glossy materials and water. It also now provides real-time global illumination at 60 frames-per-second.

Players will get to see beautiful interior spaces and witness bounce lighting. This will make the environment feel more natural and larger-than-life in-game.

However, the main attraction of this feature will be outfits that have emissive qualities. With certain lighting, these outlifts will scatter light on nearby objects and surfaces, making things feel more life-like.

Virtual Shadow Maps and Temporal Super Resolution

The lighing is a true game-changer (Image via Epic Games)
The lighing is a true game-changer (Image via Epic Games)

Virtual Shadow Maps allow for highly detailed shadowing and provide more immersion in-game. Each brick, leaf, and modeled detail will now cast a shadow, and character self-shadowing has been made extremely accurate.

To elaborate, this means that apart from the character's body, all minor details that are part of the outfit, such as a hat, will now have proper shadow being cast.

Finally, Temporal Anti-Aliasing has now been replaced with Temporal Super Resolution in Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1. This will allow for high-quality visuals at a high framerate.

What does the community feel about Fortnite Unreal Engine 5.1?

Considering the massive overhaul and improvements compared to Chapter 3, the community is more than happy with the new changes. Here's what fans had to say about the game's performance after the update:

Just tried out Fortnite's update which now adds Unreal Engine 5.1 support with full Nanite and Lumen support. It looks even better! It's the first console title to support these new features, can't wait to see more devs utilize them.
I recorded gameplay of Fortnite Chapter 4 on my Xbox Series S to show the new Unreal Engine 5.1 visualization features. You can see the ray traced reflections, detailed shadowing, and temporal super resolution. #Fortnite #FortniteFracture #Fortnitechapter4
Fortnite got a huge visual upgrade with the new Chapter, thanks to Unreal Engine 5.1It looks amazing #PS5Share, #Fortnite
Fortnite upgraded to Unreal Engine 5.1 and OMG 😲

However, there is some bad news. From Chapter 4 Season 2 onward, Windows 7 and 8 will become officially unsupported in Fortnite. As mentioned in the blog, older operating systems hamper progress as well as development time.

While losing support for older technology (hardware and software) will be met with some backlash, given how far things have come, there's no turning back now. With Donald Mustard's ultimate vision for the game just getting started, things will only get better from here on out.

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Edited by Matthew Wilkins
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