At first, it may seem odd that the new iteration of a creative tool would garner much interest. However, we should never forget how staggeringly high the sheer number of games that have been created in the Unreal Engine is. To add to that, UE4 was already being used for other massive media including movies and even big-budget TV shows (like The Mandalorian). It is already a seriously powerful and important tool. And so the big UE5 reveal from yesterday really was big news.
However, what really put the icing on the cake yesterday, was that the impressive demo was running on the much-anticipated PS5 console and it looked… well, amazing! The fact that it was also part of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest event and the subsequent chat with some important figures at Epic while everyone gushed about how amazing the PS5 is, not only would’ve been music to Sony’s (and their fans’) ears, but also went a long way in cementing the ‘hype’. (It should be mentioned that UE5 will also be available on the Xbox family of devices, PC and mobile devices).
Before jumping into two specific details the UE5 demo highlighted it may be worth your while checking out a quick look at what they revealed in the (shortened) video below:
Not only are the visuals above truly spectacular and possibly the best attempt at representing what new console games will look like (something that I (like many others) felt was missing from the special Series X Inside Xbox episode last week), but the breakdown with Keighley afterwards really explained why UE5 will be a massive leap forward. The two main features highlighted were what Epic is calling ‘Lumen’ and ‘Nanite’ technology. There is a great breakdown in this Unreal blog, but in short, it was described as follows:
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.
Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry frees artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. Nanite virtualized geometry means that film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine.
It’s a lot of tech jargon but in practice what we saw was incredibly detailed scenes (with mention of an astonishing amount of triangles) and apparently easy-to-manipulate light sources, with realistic bounce & reflection, which all added up to a truly cinematic look and remarkable immersion. And if that still sounds a little highfalutin, my advice would be to take 10 minutes and watch the full “Lumen in the Land of Nanite” video (from IGN) below remembering that (as was confirmed during the interview) this is a live demo and what we see is actually playable gameplay streamed directly from a PS5… Oh and that flight sequence… Wow, just wow!