Soon, you’ll be able to see your friends while you play Fortnite together online. Epic is adding a new video chat feature to the battle royale game, where players can see livefeeds of their friends inside the game. It’s launching today, though initially, the feature will only be available on PC, PS4, and PS5.
The feature is powered by Houseparty, a chat app that Epic acquired last year. (Houseparty has powered Fortnite’s cross-platform voice chat since last September.) In order to utilize it, you’ll need to link your Epic and Houseparty accounts; after that’s done, you can enable a “Fortnite mode” in the app. When this happens, you can create a party of friends, and their livefeeds will be displayed on the left-hand side of the screen as you play the game. You can create a party of up to 10 people in the app, though only four will appear in Fortnite. (The most recently active will be displayed.)
This means you’ll need a few pieces of hardware to make things work. In addition to a PC or PlayStation for the game itself, you’ll also need to have Houseparty running on an iOS or Android device to serve as your camera. It may sound a bit clunky, but Epic says Houseparty users are already doing it, and this is simply an attempt to streamline the process.
In a nice touch, the Houseparty app will only display your face; the camera will automatically snap to your face (Epic says it uses face detection libraries from Apple and Google to power this) and replace everything else with a colorful background. If your face moves off camera, the feed won’t show anything but your background. This was done in part for safety reasons but also to keep things focused.
The update makes a lot of sense considering Fortnite’s steady shift from third-person shooter to full-on social space. Over the past year, Epic has expanded the game far beyond its battle royale origins with a violence-free social space called Party Royale and a steady stream of increasingly elaborate in-game concerts.
Epic isn’t saying whether the feature is coming to other games, nor when it’ll be available in Fortnite on other platforms.