The Next-Gen Unreal Engine 5 will deliver actual game-play as good as video segments for Consoles, iOS & Mac in 2021
Epic Games today announced the next iteration of its game engine, the Unreal Engine 5 (UE5), with a stunning demo running on the PlayStation 5. Epic says the demo shows off what next-generation game consoles will truly be capable of once developers have full access to creative tools like UE5 and the capability to squeeze the maximum out of new hardware and software baked into Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.
The good news is that Epic says that UE5 will be coming out in late 2021 with support for next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.
How many times have gamers wanted game-play to finally match a game's video segments. Well, you'll be a believer once you see the game play in the demo below that looks like a Tomb Raider game titled "Lumen in the Land of Nanite." The lighting in this demo took me back. I thought I was watching a video clip and then discovered it was actual game play!
The Unreal Engine press release states that one of the company's goals for their next-gen gaming engine was to achieve photorealism on par with movie CG and real life, and put it within practical reach of development teams of all sizes through highly productive tools and content libraries.
Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. Nanite virtualized geometry means that film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine—anything from ZBrush sculpts to photogrammetry scans to CAD data—and it just works. Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real time so there are no more polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets; there is no need to bake details to normal maps or manually author LODs; and there is no loss in quality.
Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes. The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters. Artists and designers can create more dynamic scenes using Lumen, for example, 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. Lumen erases the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish and to author light map UVs—a huge time savings when an artist can move a light inside the Unreal Editor and lighting looks the same as when the game is run on console.
Epic Games stated that numerous teams and technologies have come together to enable this leap in quality. To build large scenes with Nanite geometry technology, the team made heavy use of the Quixel Megascans library, which provides 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.
Unreal Engine 4 & 5 timeline
Unreal Engine 4.25 already supports next-generation console platforms from Sony and Microsoft, and Epic is working closely with console manufacturers and dozens of game developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 4 to build next-gen games.
The 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.