Epic unveils Unreal Engine 5
When it comes to gaming development over the last two decades, Unreal has been right up there as the game engine of choice. Early this morning (NZST) via a Summer Game Fest broadcast, Epic Games unveiled the next generation of Unreal, Unreal Engine 5 (UE5).
Their goal? Achieve photo-realism in games that is on par with movie CGI and even real life. Is it there yet? Well it is looking flippin’ amazing to us!
There’s two main features of UE5 that Epic focussed the discussion on, Nanite and Lumen.
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.
In other words, developers aren’t limited in how much detail they can put into games. They can take any film quality source art and import it directly into the UE5 engine.
Lumen, as you might have guessed is all to do with lighting. In this case a fully dynamic lighting system that reacts to whatever may be going on in the scene.
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.
As well as these two features, a lot of work has been done within other areas such as physics (including destruction!) and dynamic audio.
For more info and the full run down visit www.unrealengine.com.
See below for the Summer Game Fest stream from this morning.
Unreal Engine 5 will be available in preview in early 2021, with full release expected late 2021. UE5 will support PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.