Look, every new Fortnite chapter and season always adds or changes the same things. We’re getting a new Battle Pass, some weapons are being vaulted to make way for unvaulted weapons or entirely new weapons, and the map is getting an overhaul with entirely new POIs or named locations. All of this helps keep Fortnite fresh while keeping its core Battle Royale gameplay intact, but with Chapter 4 Season 1, Epic Games is upping the ante with an overhaul to Fortnite’s visuals, and it’s certainly making a difference.
From some of the promotional images for Chapter 4 Season 1, it’s clear that Fortnite is getting a facelift. I mean, look how colorful and vibrant the world is. Improved detail in grass and dirt is evident, and tree branches appear more densely covered with leaves. The shadows are sharper, the reflections on the surface of the water are also more realistic, and I can make out the individual bricks that make up the castle on the hill in the screenshot below.
All of this is possible, as Epic Games noted in this official blog post, thanks to the power of Unreal Engine 5.1. This includes next-gen features such as Nanite, Lumen, Virtual Shadow Maps, and Temporal Super Resolution. All of these features are now enabled in Fortnite on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC and cloud gaming.
Nanite allows for very detailed architectural geometry, as seen in the castle on the hill in the screenshot above. Buildings can be rendered from millions of polygons in real time, and each brick, stone, wood plank, and wall trim can be individually modeled to create a more striking look.
Nanite is also the feature responsible for detailed landscapes, allowing each tree to be made up of 300,000 polygons and each stone, flower and blade of grass can also be modeled individually. This explains why everything looks so lush and full of stuff on the island.
Lumen, on the other hand, provides high-quality ray-traced reflections off shiny materials and water, as well as real-time global illumination at 60 fps. What does it mean? You’ll see building interiors and characters react realistically and accurately to the lighting in their surroundings.
Virtual Shadow Maps, as the name suggests, double shadows, allowing every brick, leaf, and modeled detail to cast a shadow. Characters are no slouch here either, with character self-shading increasing its accuracy. This allows hats and other small details and clothing to cast shadows.
Finally, you have Super Temporal Resolution, which allows for high-quality visuals at a high frame rate. This acts as an upgrade to Temporal Over-Aliasing, which was present in the past.
But all the technical jargon aside, Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 1 is simply stunning. It feels like some sort of proper “sequel” to the popular Battle Royale title, with attention clearly devoted to improving other things like the animation for chopping down trees, as popular leaker Twea-BR’s tweet shows. below.
My favorite, do you think? Fortnite’s New Clouds! With Nanite and Lumen tech enabled, it’s now possible to see clouds react to sunlight in a realistic way, with their edges lighting up and their centers remaining appropriately dark and moody.
But wait, there’s more! Thanks to another tweet from TweaBR, we see how the clouds react to a change in the time of day. At sunset, we get a beautifully moody sky with the edges of the clouds glowing a pale red while most of their mass remains a deep, blue and purple color.
What all of this makes for is a truly stunning island to explore. One that feels more alive than its predecessors. Will you notice clouds reflecting off the surface of a body of water when you’re in the heat of the moment? Probably not. But it’s certainly a much-appreciated improvement all the same.