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UT2004 incompatible with UT2003

Upgrading will not become mandatory, Epic says.

Unreal fans were dealt a small blow yesterday with the news that Unreal Tournament 2004 players will not be able to play on UT2003 servers as had been planned. Disgruntled fans immediately kicked up a fuss, arguing that they will be forced to upgrade by servers and popular modifications switching over to UT2004.

"We had initially planned to support that," Epic Games' Tim Sweeney said of the mooted 03/04 backwards compatibility, "but the network code has changed so much in order to reduce bandwidth, support vehicles, and increase performance, that we couldn't keep the two games network-compatible."

Sweeney also argued that gamers won't have to upgrade if they don't want to. "All of the UT servers are community-run, so this decision is in the hands of each individual server admin," he said yesterday. "One can continue to run UT2003, or can run UT2004, or some combination of both on different ports."

"There are 2800 servers still running for the original Unreal Tournament, released in 1999. As long as there is an active player community, the server admins tend to remain enthusiastic."

Unreal Tournament 2004 is due out on February 13th.