Unreal Engine 5, the next evolution in video game development from Epic Games, has been shown off in a new next-gen demo from the developer and the results are simply stunning.
We saw a snippet of a demo last year with "Lumen in the Land of Nanite" running on a PlayStation 5. Lumen refers to the "fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes" in Unreal Engine 5 and Nanite is the technology pertaining to "virtualised micropolygon geometry, which frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see." Those sure are some words, aren't they? Of course, a picture paints a thousand of them and a swishy demo like this one probably paints enough to be somewhere near the total of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Fortunately, CEO Tim Sweeney put it in terms that those of us who don't crunch code for breakfast can parse. "Film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine," he said at the time. "Nanite frees developers from having to worry about polygon count and levels of detail. It enables you to author all the content in the game at its full, movie quality level of resolution."
Check out the new demo here as senior technical designer Chance Ivey and Quixel producer and evangelist Galen Davis explain how the engine is pushing the envelope of game development.
Unreal Engine 5 is now in early access after a testing period with a handful of developers who created the demo that was released last night. Titled "Valley Of The Ancient," it continues the journey of the heroine featured in "Lumen in the Land of Nanite" and takes her from this desert environment to a place that looks like it's been ravaged by volcanic activity. This isn't an actual game that is playable but what it does do is serve to show us a barometer of what is possible using Unreal Engine 5 on the new generation of hardware. Furthermore, there's the MetaSounds system which is "providing fine control for authoring procedural game audio." With a library of sounds and an advanced stereo mixer, developers are able to produce sounds that are unique to their games and aren't boxed into a corner based on what's available to them.
Last but not least, those who are interested in giving Unreal Engine 5 a whirl need not worry about leaving their Unreal Engine 4 projects behind. They are forwards-compatible with the new iteration which will be a load off some developers' minds. Unreal Engine 5 can be found on the Epic Games Store and the source for "Valley Of The Ancient" is released to the public too.
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