Epic Games, the company behind the massively successful visual effects (VFX) and real-time 3D (RT3D) content creation platform Unreal Engine, unveiled its fifth iteration at an event on Tuesday.
Unreal Engine 5.0 (UE5) is set to tackle the most demanding tasks from content creators with an expanded audiovisual toolbox as well as improved workflows for building immersive worlds.
Missed all the #StateofUnreal hype – or just want a recap?
Check out all the highlights and big announcements in this video! #UE5 pic.twitter.com/K20WWBCmL2
— Unreal Engine (@UnrealEngine) April 5, 2022
Hit titles such as Fortnite and The Matrix Awaken: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience have showcased UE5’s capabilities with enhanced workflows, while some of the engine’s latest features such as Lumen and Nanite have not been “validated for non-games workflows,” the company wrote in a blog post.
Gaming enthusiasts and RT3D content creators can tap the following UE5 upgrades:
UE5 features a major upgrade to its hyperrealistic rendering toolkit with Lumen, which provides greater lighting controls in gaming and immersive environments.
Users can change lighting conditions for sunlight, when using torches or beams of light, and opening doors, among others, dramatically streamlining the rendering process.
The platform’s Nanite rendering tool boosts virtual micropolygon geometry, creating more realistic, detailed environments with a combination of photogrammetry scans and ZBrush sculpts in high-fidelity.
Virtual Shadow Maps (VSMs) provide shadows to virtual worlds, complementing the Lumen toolkit while reducing the use of system resources to boost performance.
UE5 also features Temporal Super Resolution (TSR) to render environments with lower but high-fidelity resolutions to cut rendering times and free system resources.
Brave New ‘Open World’
UE5 has now incorporated a World Partition system for managing levels in games by dividing worlds into grids to stream relevant cells. Teams can also develop regions of a world without conflicts using the One File Per Actor (OFPA) system, the company explained.
Additional tools such as Data Layers, which allows developers to build variations of a single world, and the new engine has updated support for massive worlds.
Character and Animation Tools
The platform also streamlines animation sequences with reusable, contextual, and adaptive animations to adjust to environments and gameplay conditions. A fresh suite of tools also empowers artists with a Control Rig and Pose Browser for improved animation sequences.
UE5 also comes with a feature-rich Content Browser format with sidebar docking options, as well as Details panel upgrades with a favouriting system for the most commonly used properties.
MetaSounds Audio Tool
UE5 also leverages its MetaSounds audio system that offers developers full control over sound sources for greater audio rendering management. Users can control sounds based on object proximity, improved workflows, and other upgrades.
Unreal has included an enhanced version of Path Tracer, which debuted in UE4.27 and now offers progressive rendering with no additional setup requirements, Epic Games explained.
UE5’s Path Tracer tool has significantly boosted the performance and stability of rendering workflows, along with lighting, geometries, and character features.
Comments from Unreal Executives
Speaking on the release, Tim Sweeney, Chief Executive for Epic Games, explained that 48 percent of gaming developers had leveraged Unreal Engine for their titles, adding automotive, fashion, and architectural design industries had joined Unreal Engine for branding and entertainment crossovers.
Here are the studios currently working on @UnrealEngine 5 games. pic.twitter.com/x08rCx8e7P
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) April 5, 2022
Filming and television producers had also employed Unreal’s technologies for virtual production on set and for “final pixels on the movie screen” to bring content to games and live events “on a mass scale”, Sweeney added.
He continued, stating,
“Film and television producers are using Unreal for virtual production on set and for final pixels on the movie screen, and then they’re bringing their content to games and live events on a mass scale. We’re seeing the emergence of a new medium connecting people around the world, live, in shared experience, and wherever you build today is a stepping stone to bigger things in the future”
Kim Libreri, CTO for Epic Games, added that it had been seven years since releasing Unreal Engine for open use, leading to a massive increase in the platform’s usage across multiple industries.
He continued, stating,
“This incredible journey has afforded us the opportunity to work with some of the best creators from all over the planet. It’s the work which has driven us to keep pushing the envelope to the point where we are today, which is the release of Unreal Engine 5”
The release comes after Epic Games unveiled a major partnership with Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Cesium for its Project Anywhere simulator, which provides geospatial mapping and digital twins of global cities.
Project Anywhere is expected to run on the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and will stream Cesium’s 3D Tiles geospatial datasets along with Unreal’s Pixel Streaming service across multiple devices.