On May 26th, 2021, Epic Games unveiled the latest version of Unreal Engine. However, the video game engine isn’t currently usable as a finished article. With speculation mounting over the development’s future availability, Unreal Engine 5 hit the market in early access form. As such, creators across various industries can now experiment with the engine, which strives to deliver unprecedented content. Unlike its predecessors, the latest Epic Games development puts the future of gaming in creators’ hands, allowing them to achieve movie-quality photorealism within their titles, according to ProVideo Coalition.
Unreal Engine first came to fruition in the 1998 first-person shooter, Unreal. Since then, titles like Batman: Arkham Knight, BioShock, Fortnite, and Rocket League have taken the market by storm, and the Epic Games engine is responsible for their existence. Unreal Engine 5 perhaps marks a change of direction from the American software developer and video game company. Over the coming years, realism appears to at the forefront of their operations. So, let’s take a look at why that may be the case.
Epic Games’ Pursuit of a Forward-Thinking Leap
At the time of writing, creators are currently using Unreal Engine 4, version 4.26.1. Developers will have to continue using this seven-year-old software for a little longer, with PC Gamer stating that Unreal Engine 5 won’t be fully released until early 2022. However, there can be no doubts that the development will be worth the wait, with Epic Games adding a host of new game-changing features that will enhance console and mobile gaming on devices such as the PlayStation 5 and the newly-released Google Pixel 4.
Within Unreal Engine 5, several fundamental components are at the heart of Epic Games’ journey into the next era of gaming. The pending development utilises nanite virtualised geometry systems, which the software developers state enables creators to achieve pixel-scale detail. According to the official Unreal Engine website, the technology focuses solely on perceived features, resulting in a “magnitude increase in geometry complexity”. Along with nanite technology, Unreal Engine 5 also incorporates Lumen. This experimental concept handles the engine’s illumination and reflection systems, and it’s designed for next-generation consoles, like the Xbox Series X, which is four times more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One X.
Building on Pre-Existing Realism in Broader Entertainment
As touched on above, Unreal Engine 5’s early-access availability allows gaming brands and development studios to focus on future creations. The combined implementation of Lumen and nanite technology unlocks a more life-like era in the video game industry. As such, UE5 hands designers the tools to produce revolutionary concepts, with Epic Games priding themselves on the software being made by creators, for creators. That said, in the long run, the gaming community will be the real winners. While Unreal Engine 5 focuses on next-gen consoles, it’s going to impact a variety of different platforms, including the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo, who are working on a new Switch, will utilise UE5 over the coming years, and that’s a testament to the ever-growing popularity of the mobile market.
However, it isn’t only the gaming industry that will benefit from Unreal Engine 5’s release. The film and television sector, for example, have used the Epic Games technology in over 160 creations. That said, UE5 isn’t the only option on the market, which is why it’s of utmost importance that Epic Games deliver on their promise of movie-quality photorealism.
This all stems from a wider trend of striving for realism in entertainment. In years gone by, Mental Ray, a 3D tracing application, has been used in well-known films like Star Wars: Episode II and The Matrix Reloaded, showcasing that sector’s long-term pursuit of realism. Aside from much-loved films, the online casino sector has also sought to embrace a more life-like approach to entertainment. This is evident from Betway’s wide-ranging selection of live casino titles, which allow bettors to immerse themselves in the thrill of real-time traditional table games. As well as old-school variants, players can also enjoy themed creations, like Crazy Time and MONOPOLY Live, in their pursuit of life-like entertainment. So it’s no wonder UE5 is gaining the traction it is, nor is the importance of its success to gamers in any doubt.
Unreal Engine 5 Has the Potential to Revolutionise the Gaming Industry
Ultimately, Unreal Engine 5 will bridge the gap between movie-like aesthetics and action-packed gaming experiences. Although UE4 has already brought several much-loved titles to the market, there’s undoubtedly scope for progression. The upcoming development from Epic Games will result in a bigger and better sector, with video games becoming more expansive and realistic.