This Wednesday, Epic Games showed a new preview of Unreal Engine 5, and I can say the new iteration of the engine looks impressive, not from a render-quality point of view, but from a technology point of view. Previously, EG had showed some UE5 features like Nanite, a technology that can render extremely high-resolution models in real time, Lumen, the new lighting system, and some 3D sound features, among others. On top of that, any UE4 project can be converted to UE5, meaning you don’t need to restart your project when you need to move. This time, they go a little deeper into the engine’s workflow and new technology, and also reveal a little surprise at the end.
The presentation starts with another preview of the Nanite tech. Nanite “let’s the artist create while the engine does all the work,” as they put it, because it lets you simply create your models in high quality, while the engine uses “virtual geometry” to display the models and handle all the resolution-related transitions, a system that replaces LODs (a technique where you generate geometries of different polygon counts, so the engine can transition from one to the next depending on the distance from camera). and optimization.
Another feature called “Temporal Super Resolution” allows the engine to render all these high-resolution models in sharp high-resolution images. To give you an example, using this technology they can render at 4K resolution with the cost of 1080p resolution.
The new Sky Atmosphere System lets you create realistic skies, atmospheric effects and volumetric clouds. On top of that, since Lumen is a real-time GI system, the scene lighting is updated in real time with atmosphere changes (it also reacts to all changes in lighting, like turning on a light bulb). This can produce really neat day cycles in your games (those systems where the game’s sun is moving to simulate sunrise, sunset, and everything in between).
While this feature is not explicitly about UE5, it benefits anyone using MegaScans. MegaAssemblies are “presets” of objects included in the MegaScans library, that are ready to use in any project (for example, a rock formation with materials applied to it).
The engine also includes a new IK solver that lets you do various things, like adjusting the character’s movement to changes on the ground inclination. It also has a new Full-Body IK system that lets developers program adjustments to the characters limbs in real time, using Blueprints.
UE5 also includes MetaSounds, a sound authoring system based on Blueprints. Here you can add different sound samples, filters, etc., and then mix everything to get your final sound. Since you are using Blueprints I understand you can also link sound events to in-game events.
There are more things I didn’t cover here, but you can watch the full presentation.
From a graphics point of view (meaning the final quality image), I have to say there isn’t much difference between UE4 and UE5. For example, what you see in the UE5 presentation above has the same level of quality that you saw in the Meerkat demo a few months ago.
However, I think UE5 is heading in the right direction because the developers are working on new technologies that will make the developers’ work a lot easier. For example, setting up the lighting in the Meerkat demo must have been a lot more difficult than setting up lighting in UE5, and also there’s the limitations in model resolution and LOD generation.
As for the surprise at the end. Epic Games has made available an Early Access version of UE5 in the Epic Games Launcher, and you can download it (and the demo scene of this presentation) so you can explore the engine for yourself.
Get Unreal Engine: https://www.unrealengine.com/ue5