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Epic Games has unveiled the very first look at the Unreal Engine 5 in action, and it looks utterly gorgeous. The powerful next-gen engine debuted as part of a real-time PlayStation 5 tech demo called Lumen In The Land Of Nanite. While Epic stressed that the demo is not for a real game currently in development, what we saw is fully playable.
"It is playing 100% in real-time on the [PlayStation 5] and you do have full control over the character," Epic CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed to IGN. Epic CTO Kim Libreri added that they probably would have let people go hands-on with the demo at GDC, had that gone ahead as planned.
So while it's a little disappointing that this handsome little piece of work isn't something we'll get our hands on anytime soon, it is good to know that this affords us our first real look at what the PS5 is capable of. Because oh boy, it's clearly capable of something special. But enough from me, take a look at the demo in action below. Alternatively, head to this link to view it directly at the source.
According to an Epic press release, the two big new features in UE5 are the engine's Nanite and Lumen systems - both are which are shown off in the video above. Nanite, we're told, allows developers to make use of a "virtualized micropolygon geometry. What does this mean, you might find yourself asking? Epic explains 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".
"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," Sweeney explained to Engadget, "and then rely on the game engine to scale it down so it runs in real-time on every device."
Lumen, meanwhile, is "a fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes." In other words, it makes for some truly stunning-looking lighting. Of course there's a little more to it than that, though. It essentially works out - in real time- the lighting dynamics of a scene. This means it's able to react to any changes in the environment, such as turning a light on or using a flashlight.
With Unreal Engine 5, Epic hopes that Nanite and Lumite can work together to create worlds more detailed than any ever before seen in video games. Nanite will bring incredible detail to the geometry of digital worlds, while Lumen is the tool that can be used to get the lighting just right. The result, at least going off of the tech demo, is clearly effective.
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