by Joseph Leray
According to a recent listing on their jobs site, Epic Games is working on (surprise!) an online action game in addition to its survival horror building game, “Fortnite.” The studio is looking for a system designers for both projects and notes that the unannounced and unnamed project has already moved into pre-production.
Epic’s new project is “a competitive online action game that includes player progression, heavy itemization, and a dynamic economy,” and the job calls for “experience and passion for building and/or playing shooters, MMO’s, RPG’s, or RTS games.” As is frustratingly typical in the games industry, there’s a dearth of any information on Epic’s future plans.
“Gears of War,” the tentpole of Epic’s game publishing arm, seems to be in the capable hands of People Can Fly — Epic bought the Polish firm in 2012 and promptly released “Gears of War: Judgment.” In the months since, People Can Fly have supported the game with new maps and extra multiplayer modes, the most recent of which, Breakthrough, has kept me hooked since its release earlier this month. At least from an outside view, there doesn’t appear to be a pressing need to revisit the “Gears” series.
Furthermore, a string of high-profile designers and executives have left the company over the past year in the wake of Chinese telecommunications giant Tencent buying a 40% stake in Epic.
Producer Rod Fergusson went to Irrational to help finish “BioShock Infinite”; lead designer Cliff Bleszinksi and president Mike Capps both retired; People Can Fly co-founders Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski, and Michal Kosieradzki left to form their own studio; and “Judgment” producer Chris Wynn joined BioWare Montreal to work on the next “Mass Effect” game just last week.
Back in February, Epic also closed Impossible Studios, the Baltimore-based “Infinity Blade” developer staffed by ex-Big Huge Games vets.
Lastly, where the Unreal Engine 3 was once the de facto standard for big-studio games, very few Unreal 4-based projects have been announced thus far: Epic’s own “Fortnite,” Zombie Studios’ “Daylight,” and Lukewarm’s “Primal Carnage.” Erstwhile purveyors of Epic tech like Electronic Arts and Capcom have renewed their focus on in-house engines: EA’s biggest next-gen games are using the DICE-developed Frostbite 3, while Capcom recently debuted the “Penta Rhei” engine.
Point is, very little of the public-facing news about Epic has been positive lately, though that rarely means much in an industry as secretive as this one. At the very least, we know that Epic’s war chest is deep enough to staff up for two games at once.