Unreal Engine 5 was recently released to the public, and it has been making waves in the video game development community. This new version of Unreal Engine features a number of upgrades and changes that will impact how developers create video games. In this article, we will discuss some of the most important new features of Unreal Engine 5 and explore how they could affect video game development in the future.
What actually is the Unreal Engine?
The Unreal Engine is a software development kit created by Epic Games that allows developers to create video games for various platforms, including consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. The Unreal Engine has a long and storied history, dating back to 1998 when it was first used to create the game Unreal. The Unreal Engine has been used to create some of the most popular and iconic video games of all time, including Gears of War, Mass Effect, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and many more.
The previous major release was Unreal Engine 4 and that was about a decade ago, so you can imagine just how disruptive these milestones are for all studios and gamers going forward. With the release of Unreal Engine 5, Epic Games is once again raising the bar for what is possible in video game development. This latest version of the engine features a number of significant changes and improvements, which we will discuss in more detail below.
One of the most significant changes in Unreal Engine 5 is the new Niagara visual programming system. This system will allow developers to create more complex and realistic visuals with ease. With Niagara, developers will be able to create particle effects that were previously impossible to achieve. This could lead to a new era of visually stunning video games.
Lumen lighting is one of the most significant new features in Unreal Engine 5. It replaces the older light-mapping system and offers a number of advantages over traditional lighting methods. Lumen lighting is more accurate and efficient, and it allows for greater control over the appearance of light in a scene. This makes it an ideal choice for video game developers who want to create realistic, believable environments. One of the benefits of Lumen lighting is that it can be used to simulate different times of the day.
This means that developers can create night scenes that are just as realistic as daytime scenes. Lumen lighting also makes it possible to create more complex light effects, such as bounced light and caustics. Another advantage of Lumen lighting is that it is fully dynamic. This means that lights can be moved and changed in real-time, without the need to pre-calculate lightmaps. This makes it possible to create more interactive and responsive environments.
Nanite rendering is another important new feature in Unreal Engine 5. It allows for the creation of more realistic and detailed character models and animations. Nanites are very small objects that can be used to create a variety of textures and details. This makes it possible to create models that look more realistic than ever before.
Nanite rendering also offers a number of benefits for animators. Nanite-based models can be deformed in real-time, without the need for complex rigging systems. This makes it possible to create more realistic and believable animations. Nanite rendering also allows for the use of motion capture data to create animations that are more lifelike.
One of the key benefits of nanite rendering is that it can help to improve performance. This is because nanites can be used to reduce the number of polygons in a model without sacrificing visual quality. This makes it possible to create high-quality models that are still efficient enough to run on mobile devices or low-end hardware.
Beta version of Virtual Shadow Maps
Virtual Shadow Maps is a technique that allows developers to create realistic shadows for objects that are far away from the light source. This feature is important because it can improve the graphics of a video game and make it look more realistic. In addition, Virtual Shadow Maps can also help improve the performance of a video game.
While older shadow technology could cause a blurring of details, depending on the distance to it, the Virtual Shadow Maps can create realistic shadows regardless of the distance. This means that developers can create more detailed and realistic environments without worrying about the performance of their games.
Better open-world games with World Partition
In the past, games with large, open worlds were often hampered by performance issues. But with Unreal Engine 5’s new World Partition feature, developers can now create larger and more detailed worlds without worrying about these problems. World Partition allows developers to split up a world into manageable chunks, which can then be optimized and scripted independently.
This means that developers can create more detailed and complex worlds without sacrificing performance. This is a huge step forward for open-world games, and it will allow developers to create even more immersive and believable worlds. It also has the potential to change the way we think about level design in general. With World Partition, developers will no longer be limited by the size of the world they can create. Instead, they’ll be able to create vast, detailed worlds that players can explore at their own pace.
The Megascans library is a comprehensive collection of high-resolution 3D scans that have been created for use in Unreal Engine 5. The library includes scanned objects, textures, and landscapes, which can be used to create realistic 3D environments and scenes.
The scans in the Megascans library are created by a team of artists and engineers and are available for use in Unreal Engine projects. The library is constantly being updated with new scans, so there is always something new to use.
The Megascans library is a great resource for video game developers who want to create realistic environments and scenes. The high-resolution scans provide a lot of detail, and the team of artists and engineers who create the scans are always adding new content to the library.
One of the most impressive new features of Unreal Engine is the MetaHuman editor. This tool allows developers to create and edit complex character rigs quickly and easily. With this tool, developers can create realistic animations and movements for characters that would otherwise be very difficult to achieve.
The MetaHuman editor is a huge step forward for Unreal Engine, and it will have a big impact on the future of video game development. The MetaHuman tool can also run in a browser, which means that it can be used by developers anywhere in the world. This is a huge advantage for Unreal Engine, and it will help to make the tool even more popular among developers.
Temporal Super Resolution upsampling
The Temporal Super Resolution feature is another impressive new addition to Unreal Engine 5. This feature allows developers to upscale the resolution of their games, which can result in a significant improvement in image quality.
The Temporal Super Resolution algorithm is very complex, and it is not yet clear how well it will work in practice. However, if the algorithm works as well as it is supposed to, then the Temporal Super Resolution feature could truly be a useful feature to developers and to the gamers of course.
Overall, Unreal Engine’s new features show promise for the future of video game development. With powerful tools like Niagara, developers will be able to create visuals that are truly breathtaking. The new features of Unreal Engine will also help to improve the performance of games, and the Megascans library is a great resource for developers who want to create realistic environments. The MetaHuman editor is a huge step forward for Unreal Engine, and it will help to provide game developers with an interesting toolkit to build new games in the future.
If you want to check into more details you also dig into the official Unreal Engine 5 release notes or watch the demonstration and explainer video below by Zach the Unreal Sensei.
YouTube: 5 Reasons Why Unreal Engine 5 is a Big Deal
Photo credit: All images shown are owned by Epic and were provided as part of a press release.