Yesterday Epic Games announced the all new Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) with a tech demo video showcasing the engine with Sony’s new PS5 console. With next gen consoles arriving holiday 2020, Epic Games showcased its titular engine that will help artists realize what next generational technology could mean.
With Unreal Engine 5 the big new additions are Nanite and Lumen. Nanite will be a tool to virtualize geometry, which means the engine will be able to process billions of small geometric details in a far greater distance than before. Epic themselves state, “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.” Basically, you can take a landscape photo of an environment and put it through the process to create a 1:1 recreation of your shot. This next step will be a huge benefit for developers, as it’ll lead to higher detailed environments as well as take less time and resources to do so.
Lumen is a new dynamic global illumination tool, in which it will react in real time. Again, the basics can be explained with this new technology basically creating an accurate lighting system relevant to the real world. Developers will be able to “position” the sun according to the time of day and the lighting of the scene will reflect that, plus much, much more.
Not only will Epic upgrade to the new engine, their business model will also see a revamp. Before Epic Games would take 5% royalty from all sales after the first $3,000 in sales whenever a developer chose to use UE4. Now Epic says it’ll let developers keep all royalties for the first $1 million generated and then take 5%. This will greatly help indie devs move over to the new engine without worrying about cost; and helping the artists has been a main drive for Epic Games. Giving the developers the tools and support to create their works and mitigating any struggles has been a key for Epic Games. In a market where workers are treated to grueling conditions and countless hours, having the tools to maybe cut some development time down is fantastic.
It’s amazing to see how far technology has come in the last couple of decades, with games like the original Final Fantasy 7 coming out in 1997 looking like this and the remake (made with UE4) coming out this year. The future is looking bright for games as they keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible and create fantastic worlds fully realized to be enjoyed while sitting on the couch. Not only will Unreal Engine 5 help push the limits in gaming, the world of film has also begun to adopt the game engine. If you’ve seen Disney +’s the Mandalorian you might be shocked to know that most of the “sets” in the show are actually renders made using UE4 and “projected” in real time for the actors and director to interact with.