Fortnite Update Suggests Future Quest VR Support
Although Fortnite is widely regarded as a showcase of what a future metaverse might look like, it does not natively support virtual reality. For the first time, however, the game is about to get metaverse technology support which could be a big deal for the platform and the industry at large.
Fortnite is a highly popular battle royale shooter that attracts millions of young players into digital 3D worlds. So far, there has been nothing special about its format as several other games also similar multiplayer games in various modes. That is about to change.
Fortnite began as a normal online game and has gradually evolved into a social platform with three distinct game mode versions. Over the years, Fortnite has transformed from a simple shooter featuring colorful cartoon graphics. Today Fortnite is more than just a game; it has grown into a cultural phenomenon and a community for digital social gatherings. Fortnite is what people imagine the metaverse will look like.
Virtual reality support is finally coming to the battle royale shooter Fortnite according to the information contained in an update. The update mentions the word “Oculus” which likely hints at future virtual reality support for the game.
Epic added stuff related to Oculus (Quest, Quest 2 & Mobile) in today's update. Most likely proper VR support in the future..
— HYPEX (@HYPEX) August 30, 2022
The Fortnite Update 21.50, which began rolling out last week, is the fifth and final one to Season 3 of the game. Fortnite leaker and data miner HYPEX spotted the phrase “stuff related to Oculus” while scouring under the hood.
In a Twitter update, HYPEX says that Epic Games added lines of code for Oculus Quest/Meta Quest 2 in this latest Fortnite update. Currently, the game is played in the third-person perspective. However, in the near future, it is expected that it will get a first-person mode, according to recent leaks. Taking this new information into account, it is possible that the new game perspective and a possible virtual reality mode could be connected.
Although this hasn’t been independently verified, HYPEX is generally regarded as a reliable leaker by the community. HYPEX speculates that the mention of Oculus could mean that virtual reality support could be added at a future date.
Should Fortnite go native on Quest, it would be a major development, not just for the game but for the industry at large. The Fortnite world in Meta Quest 2 could easily eclipse its main competitors like Roblox and Minecraft. It could also take on some of the leading virtual reality multiplayer games and experiences like Meta’s Horizon Worlds, VRChat, Rec Room, and Population: One. By going VR-native, Fortnite could easily become one of the most popular virtual reality games overnight.
Porting the game to VR will be a difficult undertaking. The large-scale multiplayer shooter has to be shoehorned into a relatively modest Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor. In spite of the challenge, Epic Games is well equipped to pull off a project of this scale and complexity. It released the VR title Robo Recall in 2016 which was subsequently ported with relatively impressive quality to Quest in 2019.
Fortnite developer Epic Games has been a major proponent of virtual reality since 2016 when the original Oculus Rift was launched. The company pioneered virtual reality support for its Unreal Engine and even released a very slick arcade shooter in 2016, Robo Recall. Epic Games also joined Khronos Group’s OpenXR initiative as a founding member, an initiative aimed at creating open standards for virtual reality and augmented reality.
Recent years have seen Epic Games building its own Store distribution channel. The company has also pushed Fortnite beyond its initial conception as a free battle royale shooter.
Fortnite now has multiple game modes and a creative sandbox mode. It also hosts live events regularly, including special in-game events and concerts.
In early 2022, Epic Games notched up a $2 billion investment to power its metaverse ambitions. Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said at the time that the funding would help the company accelerate its work to build the metaverse and build spaces where players can have fun with their friends, brands can develop creative and immersive experiences and creators can build communities and thrive in.
Sweeney has been a major proponent of virtual reality and the metaverse who also been a major advocate for open standards in XR. It is therefore logical for Epic Games to expand Fortnite into the metaverse platform and integrate virtual reality support. Should Fortnite dip into the metaverse, it would be eons ahead of other proto-metaversal worlds like Meta’s Horizon Worlds.
Epic Games is sitting pretty. Gaming giant Sony invested over a billion dollars in Fortnite with the aim of creating a “revolutionary entertainment experience” and “real-time 3D social experiences.” The statements from Sony’s Yoshida and Epic Games’ Sweeney suggested the two companies were pursuing a shared metaverse vision.
Sweeney has often positioned himself as an open-platform advocate. Taking Fortnite to multiple virtual reality platforms would be a logical consequence and it would be a surprise if Fortnite VR actually did an exclusive Meta Quest release as the recently discovered code snippets suggest. Sony is also expected to release its next-generation PlayStation VR 2 headset in early 2023 and given Sony’s massive investment in Fortnite, it is unlikely we will see an exclusive Meta Quest 2 release.
Sweeney has stated that he expects the metaverse to take approximately 10 years to build and sees virtual reality and augmented reality as important building blocks.