Epic Games showcases impressive Unreal Engine 5 tech demo on the PlayStation 5
The Xbox Series X game footage unveiled by Microsoft last week was quite underwhelming as far as next gen graphics go. Sony, on the other hand, only unveiled very little PS5 footage, including a trailer for Godfall (which is not an exclusive, as it will be available for PC, as well). Godfall is still under development using Unreal Engine 4, and while it looks good, it is not exactly screaming next gen since UE4 has been around for 8 years now. While it is still unclear when exactly we are going to see more PS5 game demos, it so happens that the guys behind Unreal Engine at Epic Games have just unveiled the fifth version that will be available for all platforms including next gen consoles, and the UE5 tech demo itself appears to be running on PS5, so we are basically getting an in depth PS5 tech demo without any actual game footage. Yes, the tech will be available on Xbox Series X, as well, but Epic Games chose to showcase UE5 on the PS5 for some reason.
Epic Games specifically states that the goal of UE5 is to help game developers achieve photorealism on par with movie CG and even real life. Quite a bold statement, but, from what we can see in the new tech demo, those goals might not be that far-fetched. This will be facilitated through two revolutionary technologies called Nanite and Lumen.
Nanite allows artists to virtually infinite details via virtualized micropolygon geometry comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons (basically the size of a pixel or even smaller) can be imported directly into UE5 with no performance limitations. Artists can now import highly complex ZBrush models, photogrammetry scans or detailed CAD data without worrying about polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets or draw count budgets. Say goodbye to normal maps with baked details and manually authored LODs. All this allows UE5 to render over 16 billion triangles in one of the more complex demo scenes, while the tech demo itself contains hundreds of billions of triangles.
Lumen is handling the new advanced lighting system and integrates a fully dynamic global illumination solution that immediately reacts to scene and light changes. The advanced ray tracing engine “renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters.” One of the biggest advantages of Lumen is that it “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.”
UE5 will be fully released in 2021, but until then, game developers can start coding their games in UE4 and later migrate their work to UE5. Additionally, Epic Games also launched the Epic Online Services that allows mixing and matching for services like friend lists, matchmaking, lobbies, achievements, leaderboards and accounts to enable cross-platform gameplay over all seven major platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.