CARY — Epic Games unveiled its first look at Unreal Engine 5 (UE5), and it’s looking a whole lot more real than unreal these days.
In this next generation, the Cary-based game developer concedes, one of it’s main goals is to achieve photorealism “on par” with movie CG and real life, and according to its chief technology officer, Kim Libreri, it’s getting pretty darn close.
“The next-gen consoles are going to give consumers a quantum leap, and UE5 is another leap on top of that,” he told The Verge.
The reveal kicked off with “Lumen in the Land of Nanite,” a real-time demo running live on PlayStation 5. It previews two of the new core technologies: nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry, which frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see; and lumen, 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,” per the release. “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.”
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 said it is working closely with console manufacturers and dozens of game developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 4 to build next-gen games.
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.
Epic said is designing for forward compatibility, so developers can get started with next-gen development now in UE4 and move projects to UE5 when ready.
Epic will release Fortnite, built with UE4, on next-gen consoles at launch and, in keeping with the team’s commitment to prove out industry-leading features through internal production, migrate the game to UE5 in mid-2021.