Epic Games has unveiled its latest original video game. The Cary-based game studio used the 2011 SpikeTV “Video Game Awards” on Saturday night to introduce a video teaser for FORTnITE, a genre-defying multiplayer action game.

Cliff Bleszinski, design director at Epic Games, traveled to Los Angeles to debut the video during the live broadcast.

The game is split into two unique multiplayer experiences. Players build up their fortress during the day, collaborating with other players or taking whatever type of play style they like. And then similar to the hit horror movie franchise starring Will Smith, “I Am Legend,” at night everything changes.

The focus switches to defending your fortress from assorted zombies. The game is jam-packed with enemies, which come in all different shapes and sizes and have different motivations for coming after players.

“FORTnITE is an expansive original experience in which players collaborate and use their resources by day and then defend their cherished fortress at night,” said Bleszinski.

“Radically Different” for Epic

Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, said the new game is “radically different from anything we’ve done before. It’s totally new. It’s something that gives our guys a breather from Gears development.”

The gameplay experience is mostly played from an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective similar to Gears of War. But players will be able to switch to more of a top down perspective when they want to watch all of their teammates in action.

Epic is only teasing the new game, which doesn’t have a publisher attached yet. There’s no information on release date, platforms or price point at this time. In fact, the game currently defies genres. It has some Tower Defense elements, as well as action, horror and shooter elements. No information on how many players will engage in the action has been released yet.

FORTnITE also will feature modular components similar in some ways to the hit game Minecraft. While the game is not an open world game, per se, it will highlight new elements of Epic’s popular Unreal Engine 3 technology. The game has been designed to showcase the more open world capabilities of the engine.

The new game is also likely to raise some eyebrows for its stylized look, which doesn’t look like anything Epic has done before, including Gears of War, Bulletstorm, and the GDC Samaritan demo. The visuals are similar in a way to Valve’s popular Team Fortress 2 game.

2011 a Busy Year

Epic Games has had a very busy year. The game studio launched the over-the-top shooter Bulletstorm for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 through Electronic Arts on February 25th and Gears of War 3 for Xbox 360 through Microsoft on September 20th. EA has sold over 1.2 million copies of Bulletstorm and Microsoft has sold over 4.6 million copies of Gears 3 globally, according to VGChartz.com. On December 1, Epic Games-owned Chair Entertainment self-published Infinity Blade II on Apple iOS devices, after the original sold over 5 million copies and generated over $20 million in revenue.

Capps recently stated that Epic is currently working on five games. In addition to FORTnITE, the Gears franchise is certainly expected to continue beyond the original trilogy. There’s also the potential for additional Bulletstorm games. Capps did say there’s currently no new Unreal game in development. And Shadow Complex is another franchise that is currently dormant, but sequels to both of those franchises could always be added down the line.

Infinity Blade has exploded in the mobile space and more games are expected, as well as additional transmedia projects under the brand. Chair Entertainment has already released the first-ever Unreal Engine 3 arcade game with Infinity Blade FX. Through a partnership with Adrenaline Amusements, the original Infinity Blade iOS game is currently in 57 Dave & Buster’s restaurants around the country. Over 10,000 of these multiplayer touch-screen arcade machines will be distributed through arcades, malls, airports and movie theaters throughout next year.

Epic’s Unreal Game Engine Grows

Epic doesn’t rely solely on its games for success. The studio’s game engine technology powers many of the top games of 2011 and some big games coming in 2012, including SpikeTV finalists like Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Batman: Arkham City and Mortal Kombat, Sega’s Captain America: Super Soldier, BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 and 2K Games’ BioShock: Infinite. Epic’s own Gears of War 3 and Infinity Blade were nominated for multiple “VGAs” this year, bringing additional attention to the game engine.

Epic recently opened up its Unreal Engine technology to the booming casual games arena by supporting Adobe Flash technology. Epic Games’ Chief Executive Officer, Founder and Technical Director Tim Sweeney presented the technology running fully inside an Adobe Flash-based environment during a keynote at Adobe MAX 2011 in October. This allows the company to license its technology to PC, console, mobile and casual game developers. In addition, the studio’s free Unreal Development Kit has been downloaded over 1 million times, allowing anyone to create games using this technology for free.

Epic is looking to push its Unreal technology forward with each new game, and FORTnITE is yet another example of the game studio blending original ideas with new gaming enhancements that will not only impact this original franchise, but also open additional resources to game makers who utilize Unreal to make their games.

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