The venerable Unreal Engine now has a fifth iteration which has just been revealed by Epic Games by way of a demo apparently running on the PlayStation 5.
The demo is made to show off two key features of Unreal Engine 5: Lumen and Nanite. This is why the demo’s name is the uninspired “Lumen in the Land of Nanite”.
As you may have guessed by the name Lumen focuses on light, specifically dynamic global illumination. This is shown off in the demo as the sun is moved around at will inside of a cave, a torch is used to scatter light over detailed metals, and a final big world shot showing the tech working on a large scale.
Nanite deals with geometry and modelling and may be what excites us most. “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,” a blog post from Epic Games states.
This caught our attention as there’s an almost limitless supply of such resources created for 3D printing. Anything which makes using those objects in games sounds good to us.
As you can see in the demo video above there’s a lot of technical information and big numbers of triangles that won’t mean much to anyone except those actually making games and the assets for them.
There’s more behind the scenes stuff like the fact that the first $1 million (~R18.5 million) of game revenue for titles using the engine will be waived. More details like that for developers can be found in the announcement and the FAQ.
For the rest of us on the other side of things – the people looking forward to playing those games – there is still a lot to get out of the announcement.
There is, of course, mention of Epic Games’ golden goose Fortnite. The perennially popular battle royale title will be migrated to Unreal Engine 5 in the middle of 2021. Previews of the engine itself will be made available early next year with a full release in late 2021.
The engine will support both current generation consoles as well as the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. PC, Mac, Android and iOS will also be supported.
With all the showing off done here we’re surprised that the demo was presented in 30 FPS. YouTube has long supported 60 FPS video so Epic Games definitely could have shown that off if it wanted to.