Epic Games has announced the first look of Unreal Engine 5. This is the newest version of Epic‘s game engine. The previous version released back in the year 2014, and went open source the next year. Epic mentions that its goals in this next 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.

The reveal introduced “Lumen in the Land of Nanite,” a real-time demo running live on PlayStation 5. This demo previews two of the new core technologies that the company will debut in Unreal Engine 5. Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry will help artists create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. While Lumen is a fully dynamic global Illumination solution that immediately reacts 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.

To build large scenes with Nanite geometry technology, Epic’s team made heavy use of the Quixel Megascans library, which provides film-quality objects up to hundreds of millions of polygons. To support vastly larger and more detailed scenes than previous generations, PlayStation 5 provides a dramatic increase in storage bandwidth.

The demo also showcases existing engine systems such as Chaos physics and destruction, Niagara VFX, convolution reverb, and ambisonics rendering.

Unreal Engine 5 timeline

Unreal Engine 4.25 already supports next-generation console platforms from Sony and Microsoft. Epic is working closely with console manufacturers and game developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 4 to build next-gen games. Unreal Engine 5 will be available in preview in early 2021, and in full release late in 2021. It will support next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Epic is designing for forward compatibility, hence developers can get started with next-gen development now in UE4 and move projects to UE5 when ready. Epic will release Fortnite, built with UE4, on next-gen consoles at launch and, in keeping with the team’s commitment to prove out industry-leading features through internal production, migrate the game to UE5 in mid-2021.

Starting today, game developers can download and use Unreal Engine for free as always, except now royalties are waived on the first $1 million in gross revenue per title.

Epic built Friends, matchmaking, lobbies, achievements, leaderboards, and accounts services for Fortnite. And launched these across seven major platforms – PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Now developers can access Epic Online Services for free in a simple multiplatform SDK.

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