The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The zombies, or “forces of darkness,” are on the loose as the latest videogame bad guy franchise from Epic Games in what will be a strikingly different – certainly at least in appearance – franchise.

Epic has promised something “radically different” that could prove to be “lightning in a bottle.” Time will tell, but …

At Comic-Con on Thursday, Epic executives shared more details, images and a trailer about “Fortnite,” which it describes as a “sandbox survival game.”

But as the images we share with this post, Epic is taking a much different approach visually – at the minimum – in the new game from massive hits “Gears of War” and “Unreal Tournament.”

Rather than strikingly realistic as in the past, Epic artists have created in Fortnite an almost comic book (think a bloody Archie) approach both in characters and color schemes.

The visual effects should be more stunning than in previous Epic games, however, even if the characters don’t appear as sinister.

Why? Because it’s the first game being produced on Epic’s Unreal Engine 4.

Earlier Unreal engines have won multiple awards and been used by game developers across multiple platforms worldwide.

With the new Unreal, Epic ventures forth into even higher resolution, faster action and more tools to take the gaming experience to even deeper levels.

Interestingly, Fortnite also is being developed solely for the PCs – something Epic has done in a decade.

“In Fortnite, players will explore, forage, collaborate and build by day in their own dynamic and expanding world,” Epic says in describing Fortnite. “At night, they’ll work together to defend their prized fortress from the forces of darkness.”

The game enables users to build forts or other structures using scavenged materials when they aren’t fighting off the zombies.

Epic offers more details about Fortnite at the game’s own website plus a Twitter feed and a Facebook page.

Fortnite will go on sale next year.

[EPIC ARCHIVE: Check out a decade of Epic as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]