Epic Games has announced their fifth version of the Unreal Engine which will help power the graphics behind many upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games.
In a tech demo and interview as part of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, high-quality lighting loomed over sharp geometry as a character navigated through bright environments. A dynamic lighting is also mixed with motion blur for a cinematic feeling in next generation gaming. While the Fortnite developers created a basis for industry graphics, the latest Unreal Engine V renders all its artifacts in real-time while billions of triangles help form a single level.
For Epic Games, it was a way to showcase what developers can do with crumbling buildings, nature in an open world and a no-compromise HD lighting effect in shadows. The video was also rendered in 4K resolution and enables devs to go “sub-pixel” levels in adding textures while giving them an ability to cast sun beams over big worlds.
In a streamed interview with Keighley after the demo, Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney stated it was time to upgrade the Unreal Engine for the next generation PS5 and Xbox Series X systems.
“The hardware that Sony is launching is absolutely phenomenal,” said Sweeney, whose company got to handle next generation hardware early to create the engine ahead of time.
“Not only an unprecedented amount of graphics power, but also a completely new storage architecture that blows past architectures out of the water. As far ahead of the even state-of-the-art and highest NPCs you can buy.”
Unreal Engine V is made of two parts: Nanite provides photo realistic geometry on game objects while Lumen brings a game world to life through different types of lighting and shaders. Its Lumen in the Land of Nanite video showed the visuals off as a playable demo. A character navigated through a bright temple in an abandoned city. After exploring a dark temple, the character solves a puzzle before escaping the crumbling city.
“They’re indistinguishable from reality,” Sweeney added while noting the two biggest problems with game development come from perfecting realism and artist expenses.
It’s also why Epic Games broke the latest Unreal Engine into two parts for easier delegation. Movie-quality assets were scanned to build a cinematic world and added photo realism in sub pixel levels. These methods also let developers bring in real objects without large hassles and prevent other graphics challenges.
According to Epic CTO Kim Librer, the newer hardware takes many of the limits that held developers back when creating photorealistic graphics on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
“We thought that we’d come up with a new technique that allowed us to be able to create content in a similar way to the way they do on movies today.” Librer said, adding the demo basically captured CGI movie techniques into gameplay.
“The artist doens’t event have to think about it. They can move rocks and mountains and statues, wherever they want in the scene and not have to worry about triangle costs and more.”
Unreal Engine V also gives developers and post-secondary educators in schools tons to work with while being able to deliver next-generation projects. For gamers, the new engine will become a familiar sight across countless games adopting Epic Games’ tool.