One of the biggest success stories in gaming, is how Epic’s signature Unreal gaming engine has become the de facto piece of kit on which to develop games. Studios across the board may have come up with their own in-house software such as the Frostbite engine which powers many an EA game or Ubisoft’s custom Snowdrop engine, but Unreal continues to dominate the industry with software that is amazingly flexible and capable of seemingly anything when in the right hands.
The Unreal Engine 4 has been the foundation that many a game was built with, and it’s about to get a sequel. Unreal Engine 5 will power the next generation of video games, with Epic Games showing off its brute force and more subtle effects in a brand new tech demo called Lumen in the Land of Nanite:
The footage above was running on a PlayStation 5 in real-time, while also paving the way for two new technologies that’ll be present within Unreal Engine 5: Nanite and Lumen. Epic describes Nanite as “virtualized micropolygon geometry [that] frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see”, also dropping in the line of “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.”
As for Lumen, that focuses on lighting that allows “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.” It’s worth bearing in mind that this is all part of a tech demo, with the engine running on all cylinders while Epic’s most experienced talent is behind the wheel, but hot damn does it look absolutely magnificent.
For the sake of comparison, here’s the elemental tech demo that was unveiled seven years ago:
There has been plenty of talk about how the next-generation of console gaming won’t be as massive a leap forward as what previous generations were, but I’m thinking that’s not true. A big shift in visuals is coming, albeit on a more subtle level as games fine-tune their approach and dig deep into the smaller details that make for a more intricate presentation. If this is what the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles are capable of, then hot damn I am excited.
Last Updated: May 14, 2020