Epic Games Reveals Striking ‘Unreal Engine 5’ Footage on PlayStation 5

The new video game engine offers hyper-realistic visuals and insane new environments.

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Epic Games unveiled a real-time look at the mind-blowing graphics that will be rendered by Unreal Engine 5 on the next-gen PlayStation 5 console. 

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The developers’ latest video game engine was created with the goal of generating “photorealism on par movie CG (computer-generated) and real-life” visuals. Unreal Engine 5 was showcased in a real-time PS5 demo called Lumen in the Land of Nanite with commentary by Epic Games’ Technical Director of Graphics Brian Karis and Special Projects Art Director Jerome Platteaux. 

The demo’s title contains two nods to core technologies. “Nanite” is described as a “virtualized micropolygon geometry [that] frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see.” 

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Per the Unreal Engine website

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.

Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real time so there are no more polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets; there is no need to bake details to normal maps or manually author LODs; and there is no loss in quality.

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Meanwhile, “Lumen” technology runs realistic lighting and shadow effects that react to scene changes. Per the same website, 

The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters. 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.

Lumen erases the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish and to author light map UVs—a huge time savings when an artist can move a light inside the Unreal Editor and lighting looks the same as when the game is run on console.

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Other features on offer include “Chaos” physics and destruction, enhanced visual effects, and
“ambisonics” sound rendering. All are made possible thanks to the forthcoming PlayStation 5’s huge increase in storage bandwidth over previous-gen consoles.

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A preview of Unreal Engine 5 will be available in early 2021 before a full release arrives later in the year, with support for next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Epic Games’ popular third-person battle-royale title Fortnite, built with Unreal Engine 4, will be released on next-gen consoles at launch before being ported to Unreal Engine 5 in mid-2021.