Epic Games has announced that it is now providing developers with Early Access to its Unreal Engine 5 game engine. The game engine was first showcased last year in May and is expected to get a full release in early 2022. The company claims that with Unreal Engine 5 developers will be able to create next-generation real-time 3D content and experiences with greater freedom, fidelity and flexibility.
The Early Access version will offer “memory, performance, and quality improvements, as well as additional new features that will benefit creators in all industries.” This will help creators develop next-generation games for PCs, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
To recall, Unreal Engine 4 is currently over six years old and still manages to be one of the best game development platforms there is. It dominates the PS4 and Xbox One generation with games like Mortal Kombat 11, Borderlands 3, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and more.
Unreal Engine 5 will be a force to reckon with and will give other game development engines like Unity, CryEngine and more a run for their money. The game engine will come with next-gen features like Nanite, Lumen, World Partition system and more.
Unreal Engine 5 Early Access: Key features
The Nanite technology generates virtualized micropolygon geometry, this basically lets the engine import billions of polygons to create realistic graphics and let the user create games with massive, unprecedented amounts of geometric detail. This will allow developers to import film-quality source assets comprised of millions of polygons and place them millions of times while maintaining a real-time frame rate without any noticeable loss of fidelity.
Basically, Nanite will help developers add more detail to a game at a large scale without putting in too much time.
Lumen is a fully dynamic global illumination solution that will help developers create dynamic and believable scenes. This means that all the indirect lighting in the game will adapt on the fly to changes to direct lighting or geometry. For example, changing the sun’s angle with the time of day, turning on a flashlight or opening an exterior door. Basically, Lumen will calculate the lighting dynamics of a scene and adjust the frames accordingly, thus adding more life into the game as the light looks and reflects just like the real world.
In short, Lumen will keep a check on the lighting inside of the game ensuring that the scene looks as natural as it can, while at the same time helping developers save on time.
Epic Games has also unveiled its new World Partition system, which will change how levels are managed and streamed. Basically, it will divide the world into a grid and will stream only the necessary cells. This will also allow team members to simultaneously work on the same region of the same world. To not step on each other’s toes while doing this, Epic Games has added a new One File Per Actor system.
Data Layers feature will also allow developers to save on time as they would be able to create different variations of the same world. Making it easy to create daytime and nighttime versions of one scene.
The company also claims that with UE5 developers will be able to create detailed characters in dynamic, real-time environments with the help of its animation toolset. The Control Rig will let them quickly create rigs and share them across multiple characters, then they can pose them in the Sequencer and apply the poses with the new Pose Browser. After this, they can simply use the new Full-Body IK solver to create a natural movement, with Motion Warping they can dynamically adjust a character’s root motion and more.
With MetaSounds, Epic claims to have made a new way of making audio. It is a high-performance system, which controls audio DSP graph generation of sound sources. This lets the developers manage all aspects of audio rendering according to the company. The company claims that the MetaSounds will have all the benefits of procedural content creation to audio, which are prevalent in the Material Editor for shaders.
UE5 offers developers the option to add MetaHumans inside of their game worlds using the new MetaHuman Creator. To use this feature, developers will have to sign up for the MetaHuman Creator Early Access. This will allow them to import their own MetaHumans into UE5 or use any of the over 50 premade digital humans from Quixel Bridge.
UE5 comes with a revamped Unreal Editor, which provides users with an “updated visual style, streamlined workflows and optimised use of screen real estate, making it easier, faster, and more pleasing to use.
How to get Unreal Engine 5 Early Access
To get Unreal Engine 5 Early Access you simply need to head over to the company’s official website for the game engine and sign up for the programme. For access to the MetaHuman Creator Early Access, you can click here.
UE4 will help solve a major problem for small developers
With Unreal Engine 5, Epic Games will solve one of the major issues faced by small game developers, budget constraints. Due to small game developers having smaller budgets, they have less time to develop a particular game, which leads to them pushing out an unpolished game. Unreal Engine with all of these features and access to its Quixel Megascans library for free aims to help developers make their games more polished.
Apart from this, the company at the time of reveal announced that it will be collecting no royalties from the developers till the game using the platform is able to reach $1 million in sales.