The reveal and first look at Unreal Engine 5 is here, announced by Epic Games. One of Epic’s goals this generation is to achieve photorealism on par with movie CG and real life, and put it within practical reach of development teams of all sizes through highly productive tools and content libraries.
Introduced with “Lumen in the Land of Nanite”, it is a real-time demo running on the Playstation 5, showcasing the technologies creators will have access to in order to achieve the highest level of real-time rendering detail in the next generation games and beyond.
Two new core technologies are part of this Unreal Engine 5 reveal:
This demo previews two of the new core technologies that will debut in Unreal Engine 5:
- Virtualized micropolygon geometry freeing artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. Film-quality source art of up to billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine – ZBrush to CAD data – and it works. Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real time so no more polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets, no baked in details or manual LODs and no loss in quality
- Fully dynamic global illumination solution that reacts immediately to scene and light changes. The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters. More dynamic scenes can be created with Lumen and indirect lighting will adapt accordingly. No need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish or to author light map UVs, saving lots of time.
Epic’s team made heavy use of the Quixel Megascans library that provides film-quality objects up to hundred of millions of polygons for Nanite. The Playstation 5 itself has a dramatic increase in storage bandwidth to support vastly larger and more detailed scenes than previous generations. The demo also showcased existing engine systems such as Chaos physics and destruction, Niagara VFX, convolution reverb, and ambisonics rendering.
Unreal Engine 4.25 already supports the next-generation Sony and Microsoft consoles, and Epic is working closely with console manufacturers and dozens of game developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 4 to build next-gen games.
Unreal Engine 5 will be available in preview early 2021, and full release in late 2021, supporting next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Epic designs for forward compatibility so developers can work on UE4 now and move to UE5 when ready. Fortnite, built on UE4, will be released on next-gen consoles at launch, then migrate the game to UE5 mid-2021.
From today onwards, game developers can download and use Unreal Engine for free, with royalties now waived on the first $1 million in gross revenue per title. For more regarding the new UE license terms, retroactive to 1 January 2020, can be found here.
Last but not least, Epic Online Services have been opened up to all developers for free in a simple, multiplatform SDK to mix and match with their own account services, platform accounts or Epic Games accounts to reach over 350 million players and 2.2 billion friend connections across half a billion devices.