Two years ago, Epic Games promised to bring us a better next-generation game engine. Today, during its State of Unreal livestream event, Epic announced the Unreal Engine 5 is now available to download for free.
While the new engine boasts a better UI and enhanced performance, most gamers are more excited about getting better graphics. Thanks to its global illumination solution Lumen, the engine provides dynamic lighting that is much more realistic. Meanwhile, its new virtualized geometry system Nanite provides the geometric detail required for more immersive games and experiences.
As for game developers, most are excited that Unreal Engine 5 allows them to work on different sections of open-world games as part of independent teams. The result should be that it’s easier to make high-fidelity games on a truly epic scale. Players around the world are excited to see what CD Projekt Red will do with this engine with the next Witcher game.
However, you don’t have to wait for Witcher to experience the potential of Unreal Engine 5. Fortnite, for example, has been running on this engine since December. Also, Unreal Engine 5 powered The Matrix Awakens tech demo that blew us all away that same month. As of today, the open-world city from that demo is now available for developers to start making their own immersive adventures.
Since developers are often “hands-on” learners, Epic has also released a new multiplayer shooter, Lyra, that was built with Unreal Engine 5. The game looks to scratch the itch you might have for shooters like Unreal Tournament, and Epic hopes developers can learn more about the engine from this new title.
To better explain what the new engine can do, Epic CTO Kim Libreri spoke to The Verge. “It’s very good that we can experiment with the user experience flows way before anybody else does,” he said. “So actually, it’s very valuable to our customers because it means they don’t have to go through that. We don’t end up putting super unthought-out workflows in front of all users. It’s great from that perspective, especially with something as big as the Matrix demo and as big as Fortnite.”
Kim is also proud of the fact that big-budget shows like The Mandalorian have used Unreal to create convincing virtual sets. With this newest engine, he believes we will see some mind-blowing visuals in our games, movies, and TV shows. “It really means that across media boundaries, whether you’re making a movie, a TV show, or even doing an enterprise application, you don’t really have to think anywhere near as much about making that choice,” he said. “Obviously, if you’re going to ship on on lower-end platforms, you still have to think about how many triangles are in the scene.”
“But on the new generation of hardware, it absolutely is a game-changer,” he continued. “It’s totally feasible that a scene that’s made for a streaming show at Netflix or Disney — where they’ve basically used the highest resolution assets — there’s a chance now that stuff can turn up in a game or, as we head towards the future, show up in some metaverse experience.”
While mention of the “metaverse” is enough to make some gamers wrinkle their noses, nobody can deny both the power and potential of this engine.
What are you most excited about with Unreal Engine 5? Let us know in the comments!