Everything We Know About Unreal Engine 5

19 September 2021 12:00 Games TOP

Unreal Engine 3 was a bit of a unique engine, as it was used quite often in development even though its graphical and atmospheric capabilities often felt limited. Most games that felt a bit different from each other used customized versions of the software, rather than the original developers improving the engine.

All of that changed with Unreal Engine 4, which was improved in every way imaginable, making it flexible enough to allow for the development of a new type of video game within the incredible engine. Many different kinds of games have been developed using Unreal Engine 4, including indie and AAA titles alike, making it one of the biggest video game creation tools of all time.

Naturally, it’s hard to top something that has made such a name for itself. Fortunately, Epic Games does not disappoint – the next rendition of the engine seems to have been groundbreakingly improved in every single way. Not only that, but the engine itself introduces several new technologies as well, which the industry is anticipating to be game-changing. So, let’s go over everything we know about the upcoming Unreal Engine 5!

Compatibility with Unreal 4

A major issue that existed between Unreal Engines 3 and 4 was the fact that the two engines did not feature effective compatibility between each other. This forced many developers to remain stuck on Unreal Engine 3 once they had already started developing their games with it.

Fortunately, it has been confirmed that Unreal Engine 5 will have proper compatibility with Unreal Engine 4, and that progress will be easily transferred between them for those hoping to shift their development progress to the new and improved engine.

Nanite

Nanite is one of the new technologies being used in Unreal Engine 5. It’s a virtual geometry system which will save developers time in designing detailed textures, as it allows you to directly import high-quality art by simply scanning it into the project – unlike previously iterations, when you had to texture everything manually. And the best part? This won’t even affect the framerate all that much, as the engine knows how to optimize high-resolution textures.

Lumen

Lumen is the new lighting system at play in Unreal Engine 5, allowing developers to adjust an object or character’s lighting very quickly, which makes it look very realistic in terms of how the objects react to certain things, such as flashlights or a day-and-night cycle. This is certainly an oversimplification of the capabilities of Lumen, but that is how you will first notice its abilities.

MetaSounds

Unreal Engine 5 has a new sound system called MetaSounds, which is far more flexible in terms of how you can control sound in the engine than in previous versions. It has an improved workflow that will allow you to manage the sound of everything that goes on in video games, making them feel more organic than ever before.

Scale and Animation

The scale of Unreal Engine 5 is bigger than ever – evident in both the information released and the tech demo that has been shown to the public. The engine will be able to generate and handle larger worlds, allowing the player to see far beyond what previous draw distances made possible. Not only that, but the worlds will be larger than ever, too – but without sacrificing performance, especially since even consoles can handle these new improvements thanks to their great specifications and the usage of SSDs.

The animation quality is greatly expanded, too, thanks to tools like Control Ride, which enables developers to create movements that feel far more realistic than ever before.

Dynamic File Sizes

Unreal Engine 5 is going to feature mind-blowing visual fidelity, as 4K, 8K, and 12K textures are all supported. That sounds like suicide for performance, but that is not the case. For example, a game can render a certain texture in 4K when it’s not being zoomed in on, but, if the player gets too close to it or looks at it with a sniper scope, the new texture will render in 12K for as long as the player is paying attention to it.

Cinematic Potential

Something that we often ignore with the Unreal Engine is that it’s not only used for video games. Shows like The Mandalorian have used entire environments created in Unreal Engine 4, and with all of the aforementioned improvements in visual fidelity, animation, scale, and resolution, this kind of usage is only going to become even more prevalent. You can expect to see more usage of the new engine in future film projects. There are a few other things that we know about the engine, but those are extremely technical details that are too complex for a normal person to understand anyway and are meant specifically for developers. That being said, how much we already do know is exciting enough and sounds like a complete game changer for the future of video games in every way imaginable. We don’t know the release date for Unreal Engine 5 at the moment, but it’s expected to release sometime in either late 2021 or early 2022 with immediate console support, as Epic Games has developed it with compatibility-based collaboration with both Sony and Microsoft.

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