When you think of first-person shooters, there are a handful of titles your mind instantly thinks of. Games like Doom, Quake, and Halo are classics, but you can’t have a conversation about blistering fast shooters without including Unreal Tournament.
Unreal Tournament, released in 1999, is celebrating its 20th anniversary and we thought it would be fun to look back at the iconic shooter, highlight some of its influences on the genre, and even dive into mod scene which not only helped produce many more modern classics but change up the core experience of the game for players.
Unreal Tournament inspired many shooters to come
Unreal Tournament (sometimes referred to as UT99) is the sequel to Unreal developed by Epic Games. It shifted the focus to the multiplayer portion of the first title. Its fast-paced competitive shooting is still to this day a blast to play against real people or the well-coded bots. Whether playing Capture the Flag on the iconic Facing Worlds map or blasting your way through opponents in team deathmatch on Deck 16, there is plenty to love.
So much to love, in fact, that many modern shooters take cues from games like Unreal Tournament and Quake III
(released at the same time). Whether it is the game modes or the weapons, many other titles have built on the success of these iconic first-person shooters.
In addition, these two games showed that two similar-playing games could exist and be successful at the same time. The similarities between the two also helped ignite message boards and LAN parties with conversations of “which was better” and you can still see fans of the two series debating their merits to this day.
In the first-person shooter genre, this was a new thing and helped pave the way for shooters to see similar release dates without fear of one game “losing out.” Heck, now it seems like many of the popular games releasing each year are first-person shooters, and Unreal Tournament helped lead that charge.
Unreal Tournament’s engine and the mod community around it
Unreal Tournament is built on the game engine of the same name, the Unreal Engine. The Unreal Engine is iconic and to this day its new editions are being used to make many amazing games, including the likes of the BioShock series
, and the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake.
The reason so many games are built using a version of the Unreal Engine is that it is very easy for developers to use. For years, creative companies and individuals have been using the engine to power their games, but back in the days of Unreal Tournament, the engine was being used to mod UT99 and create new experiences that were basically modifications of the base game.
Games like Red Orchestra and Sanctum, which eventually saw full releases, were originally created in the early 2000s as mods to the Unreal Engine and helped establish the developers of those games in the industry.
Mods to enhance Unreal Tournament for modern play
While on the subject of mods, we’d be remiss to not take a minute to highlight the mod community present in Unreal Tournament. Not only was it an amazing game and experience out of the box, but modders and programmers were hard at work creating some truly unique and fun mods to make the experience even more, excuse the pun, game-changing.
Some of these mods added new maps to the game while others used the powerful engine to create new gaming experiences. There are many great maps you can try, but some fan favorites include the likes of DM-Dogtown
. Custom maps are so popular that there are even full websites
dedicated to hosting the download files for these maps, as well as highlighting user reviews to see which ones are best.
In addition to map mods, one of the most iconic mods for Unreal Tournament is ChaosUT
. This mod added a bunch of things like proxy mines, grappling hooks, and more into wonderful, chaotic multiplayer. Another mod, one more focused on a cooperative experience, is called Monster Hunt
. In it, you fight with a team of other soldiers to defeat waves of monsters with boss monsters at the end of each level.
If you are looking for something a little less drastic, then you definitely can’t go wrong with something like an HD textures mod
to improve the look for the 20-year-old game.
All in all, if you are a fan of fast-paced shooters, Unreal Tournament
is a classic and is still enjoyable 20 years after its original release. If you enjoy modern shooters and want to see where multiplayer shooters were born, this is a great place to start. Have any fond memories of playing Unreal Tournament with a room full of your friends? What are some of your favorite mods for the title? Share it in the comments below!