Unreal Engine 5 preview


Epic Games has released an incredible first look at Unreal Engine 5.


Achieving photorealism seen on cinematic screens in movie CG and real life is closer than ever with the release of a preview of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 for game development.  Crisp, hi-def screen clarity is now within practical reach of development teams of all sizes through highly productive tools and content libraries.


The ‘Lumen in the Land of Nanite’ short, is a real-time demo running live on a PlayStation 5.  Here it is:



This video demo is a preview of two new core technologies to debut in Unreal Engine 5.


Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry lets artists create as much film-quality source art, comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons geometric detail as the eye can see.  And all of this can be imported directly into an Unreal Engine and it just works.  Anything from ZBrush sculpts to photogrammetry scans to CAD data.  Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real-time so there aren’t any more polygon count or memory budgets, or draw count budgets; and there is no loss in quality.



Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometres to millimetres. Artists and designers can create more dynamic scenes using Lumen, for any time of day, turning on a flashlight, or blowing a hole in the ceiling, and indirect lighting will adapt accordingly. Lumen erases the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish and to author lightmap UVs.  This is just one huge time savings for an artist working inside the Unreal Editor.  On the game, the lighting looks the same when running on the console.




Numerous teams and technologies have come together to enable this leap in quality. To build these large scenes with Nanite geometry technology, the team used the Quixel Megascans library, with film-quality objects up to hundreds of millions of polygons. To support vastly larger and more detailed scenes than previous generations, PlayStation 5 provides a dramatic increase in storage bandwidth.


The demo also showcases existing engine systems such as Chaos physics and destruction, Niagara VFX, convolution reverb, and ambisonics rendering.   Play it on Youtube sure, but run it on a PS4 and a 1080p screen or better, and prepare the drop your jaw.


Unreal Engine 5 will be available in preview in early 2021, and in full release late in 2021, supporting next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.


Unreal Engine 4.25 already supports next-gen console platforms from Sony and Microsoft, and Epic Games is working closely with console manufacturers and dozens of game developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 4 to build next-gen games.   Designed for forward compatibility, game developers can get started with next-gen development now in UE4 and then migrate the game to UE5 in mid-2021.



Right now, developers can download and use Unreal Engine to build games for free as they always have, except now royalties are waived on their first $1 million in gross revenue. The new Unreal Engine license terms, retroactive to January 1, 2020, gives game developers an unprecedented advantage over other engine license models.


Interesting times.




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