Epic Games, the brains behind the industry staple Unreal Engine, have announced a series of improvements to the latest version of said engine set to be rolled out over the next few releases. These updates impact performance on both client and server-side implementations, and have been developed with the Battle Royale mode of Fortnite in mind. These updates are in part thanks to the ample testing over 7 million new players gave to Fortnite: Battle Royale since it entered a preliminary release as a free game mode, currently available via the Unreal Launcher.
Fortnite: Battle Royale is particularly taxing on the Unreal Engine because it drops 100 players within a compact 5.5km^2 playable zone, making it more fast-paced and action-oriented than typical games with this game mode. Reducing latency and lag whilst improving how the game world is represented on a frame-by-frame basis as players battle will be key to any expectation of long-term success, making game engine developments all the more crucial.
The code updates, which are due to be rolled out over the course of versions 4.18 and 4.19, have already been reflected in the development's GitHub and Perforce code repositories. In addition to optimising to reduce the number of necessary Remote Procedure Calls and network bandwidth load, the updates also provide more tools to the server administrator for analysing performance and restricting unnecessary data transfer. If you're at all interested in the ins and out of Unreal Engine 4, take a look at the blog post at unrealengine.com/en-US/blog/unreal-engine-improvements-for-fortnite-battle-royale.
Some of the most popular videogames in the world right now are using the near ubiquitous Unreal Engine, and that isn't limited to your common-all-garden first person shooter. Unreal Engine 4 is utilised in diverse titles such as Player's Unknown Battlegrounds (or PUBG as it's become known), Street Fighter V and EVE:Valkyrie, so major updates to it can have very widespread (and hopefully positive) ramifications. Already interest has been stoked amongst the fighting game community by a note at the end of the update, stating:
"While working on Battle Royale we identified some issues with input latency in the engine that particularly affected 30Hz games. We were able to make improvements to thread synchronization, reducing latency by around 66ms (the reduction will be around half that in a 60Hz title) to address this problem. These changes make a noticeable improvement to the feel of the game, making it more responsive and easier to aim. (Will be in 4.19)"
Street Fighter V in particular apparently has a reputation for feeling a little latency heavy, so reducing latency by 33ms in this 60Hz game (two whole frames) is a big deal. Realistically game engines often undergo heavy modification by studios to 'fit' it to their own title, but if benefits can be easily transferred beyond Fortnite: Battle Royale it's very good news indeed.