Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite and the Unreal Engine, has just released the very first footage of Unreal Engine 5 in action.
Unveiled with a “real-time demo running live on PlayStation,” the debut clip helps demonstrate the engine’s “technologies that will free creators to reach the highest level of real-time rendering detail in the next generation of games and beyond.”
Unreal Engine, developed by Epic, powers a lot of your favorite games. Its latest iteration, Unreal Engine 4, released back in 2014. With a new generation of consoles on the horizon, many were looking towards the inevitable Unreal Engine 5, which has likely been in the works for quite some time now.
“The graphics speak for themselves. And Epic has always pushed the bleeding edge of what’s possible,” CEO Tim Sweeney tells The Verge. “Our goal isn’t just to bring more features to developers. The hardest problem in game development right now is building high quality games takes enormous time and cost. So we want to make developers’ lives easier and more productive.”
The demo game, called “Lumen in the Land of Nanite,” isn’t a real game intended for commercial release, but Epic executives say that the “Tomb Raider”-like third-person adventure game is playable. The demo is named after the two technology solutions being introduced in Unreal 5. Lumen is a new dynamic lighting system, while Nanite allows for greater geometric detail. This means a single statue can be rendered with 33 million triangles, and a room full of dozens of the same statue will feature 16 billion triangles of images.
The demo also includes a peek at existing Unreal Engine technologies, like Chaos, the physics and destruction system, and Niagara visual effects, running in UE5.
In other words, next-gen games made in Unreal Engine 5 are going to be very, very pretty, and in subtle but significant ways, much closer to photorealism than current-gen titles. We got a taste of this in the new PS5 Unreal Engine 5 demo, which shows what next-gen consoles can really do with Lumen and Nanite. Short answer: a lot.
Unreal Engine 5 won’t be ready for developers when the next-gen consoles — the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 — launch later this year. Instead, the engine will be available in preview form in early 2021, Epic says, with a full release slated for late 2021. Unreal Engine 5 will be available for both next-generation and current-generation consoles, as well as Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows PC.