The next generation of video games is just around the corner, and today Epic Games brought us one step closer. The company gave us a first look at its next iteration of Unreal Engine, Unreal Engine 5.
Expected to launch mid-2021, UE5 allows developers to achieve photorealistic and movie CG quality graphics on next generation consoles and high end PCs.
Let’s take a look and talk about what was shown today.
Lumen in the Land of Nanite a tech demo running live on PlayStation 5
Instead of boring us with a lot of technical jargon, Epic Games presented a real-time tech demo of Unreal Engine 5 running live on a PlayStation 5 development kit. And, let me tell you, my jaw literally hit the floor when I saw this in motion.
Some have not been that impressed with what we have seen so far of next generation consoles. And, it seems that the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo has made believers of many. The demo was made to showcase two of the new core technologies that will debut in Unreal Engine 5: Nanite and Lumen.
The first new core technology showcased was Nanite. Essentially, this allows developers to use movie quality assets in their games using Unreal Engine 5. And, these assets can contain millions or even billions of polygons on the screen with no performance hits at all.
This eliminates developers having to worry about things like memory constraints. In the tech demo shown, the developers pointed out a single statue that was made up of 33 million triangles with amazing detail. Then, they showed a room with 500 statues all with the exact same level of detail. With over 16.5 billion triangles in a single scene, there was no performance or frame-rate hits at all. By comparison, the PS4 is capable of a maximum of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1.6 billion triangles.
Developers can import 8K assets and the Unreal 5 Engine handles all of the scaling and streaming in real-time. Since Unreal Engine 5 is scalable, this means it can also run on PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android and the engine will scale down accordingly. In turn, this allows developers to develop with the highest quality assets and not have to worry about having to create lower resolution assets for other platforms.
The second new core technology shown today in the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo is called Lumen. This is a dynamic global illumination system that reacts in real-time to light and scene changes. This means things like changing the sun angle for time of day, turning on a flashlight, or blowing a hole in the ceiling, and indirect lighting will adapt accordingly.
And, much like Nanite, Lumen is scalable ranging from millimetres to kilometres. In the end, this saves developers a whole lot of time and allows their games to look truly amazing.
Unreal Engine 5 is coming in 2021
Unreal Engine 5 is expected to go into preview in early 2021 with a full release to developers by the end of the year. It supports PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, current generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Epic’s current development tools, Unreal Engine 4, supports next generation consoles and allows you to easily move game development to Unreal Engine 5 when it’s available without having to start over from scratch.
The first game scheduled to use Unreal Engine 5 is none other than Epic’s own Fortnite. The game will launch on PS5 and Xbox Series X using Unreal Engine 4 but will be migrated to Unreal Engine 5 in mid 2021.
Unreal Engine 5 allows developers to create worlds that were not previously possible
Although what Epic showed was a tech demo for Unreal Engine 5, it was running in real-time and on a PS5 dev kit. Pretty impressive to say the least! I can’t wait for next-gen to start this fall.
I’m really excited to see how Fortnite looks and plays on PS5 and Xbox Series X later this year. And, I’m even more excited to see how Unreal Engine 5 will transform it in 2021. Check out the real-time video of Unreal Engine 5 running on PS5. And, let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Keep your eyes on the Best Buy Blog as we’ll be covering all the latest and greatest gaming announcements this summer leading up until the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X this holiday.