Epic Games unveiled its Unreal Engine 5 today, showing in a demo video how the game engine behind Fortnite can generate exceptional realistic graphics in real time on new generation consoles like the PlayStation 5, high-end PCs and even mobile devices.
Unreal Engine 5 will debut in 2021 and it will be one of the tools that will allow the entire gaming industry to take a step closer to graphics quality, said the CEO of Epic Games. Tim sweeney in an interview with GamesBeat.
“It’s a real generational leap in new features. Even if it doesn’t break the previous stuff, Unreal Engine 5 will be a simple upgrade for everyone who works with Unreal Engine 4, “said Sweeney. “It will be like going through a few minor version updates. But it does have major new graphics features for a new generation of hardware, defined by PlayStation 5. These capabilities are also coming to PC and elsewhere.”
Sweeney noted that Epic Games is working closely with Sony on the PlayStation 5 so that games can take full advantage of next-generation hardware. But he also said that Unreal Engine 5 is designed to run any game anywhere. Game designers can use it to create their games, and Epic does the hard work of translating it to work on everything from mobile devices to next-generation consoles to high-end PCs.
The guinea pig for Unreal Engine 5 is Fortnite, which has reached more than 350 million players on seven platforms. This year Fortnite will debut on PS5 and Xbox Series X based on Unreal Engine 4 technology, but it will eventually migrate to Unreal Engine 5. And Sweeney said the rest of the industry can piggyback on the work pioneer, and they will pay the same type of fees for the Unreal Engine 5 license as they currently do with Unreal Engine 4: 5% of royalties for games that make more than $ 1 million in sales.
I interviewed Sweeney and other members of the Epic team – CTO Kim Libreri and architect Unreal Nicholas Penwarden – with another writer on call. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
GamesBeat: tell me what’s going on.
Tim Sweeney: This is a first look at the range of next generation Epic tools and technologies for game developers. The graphics speak for themselves. Epic has always pushed the limits of what is possible on 3D hardware. In this generation, we are taking geometry to new levels with Nanite technology, also the Quixel mega-library, which produces cinematic-quality assets scanned from reality to make content creation much more convenient, and the technology of Lumen dynamic lighting.
But our goal is not only to bring more features to the developers, but to help solve the most difficult game development problem right now. Creating high quality content takes an enormous amount of time and money. We want it to be productive for people to create games at this level of quality. Nanite saves developers from having to worry about individual polygons. You just created your assets of the highest quality and the rest is the engine problem, sorting and scaling for each platform. It is linked to the Quixel megascans library, where we have made available to everyone a large and rapidly growing collection of assets for free use in Unreal Engine games. You don’t need to create another chair or mountain or rock for your game. Lumen technology saves developers from having to wait for lighting and to build their games around the limits of dynamic lighting. We want to make the lives of developers easier and more productive so that they can build more efficient businesses.
This extends to our online services. Our goal from the very first days has been to connect all players on all platforms. We were the pioneers of Fortnite, which was the first to connect Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, Google, devices to all devices and allow everyone to play together. We have taken this whole stack of technologies online and are opening it up to all developers, including nut and bolt game services like matchmaking and data storage. But also the account system and the friends graph that we created for Fortnite, with more than 350 million players on seven platforms and more than 2.2 billion social connections.
It is now open to everyone. You can build on all of Epic’s efforts to build this cross-platform audience, and then contribute to it by using it in your game, inviting your players to add your friends. Everyone benefits together by building this garden version without walls of elements that have existed on each platform and on Steam in a locked way in the past.
We open it all to all developers for free. It is the spirit of all our efforts in the next generation. We work to serve all developers and help them achieve what we have accomplished with our games, and to help them do it productively and efficiently.
Kim Libreri: One of the challenges of creating content for any game or interactive experience is the effort required to make it massive. I endorse what Tim said about the Megascan Quixel library, but also Nanite, this super dense geometry system that we built – this means that now all the industries that use our engine no longer have to worry about the traditional creative process. You can load a film grade item and it just works in the engine. The engine does all the work behind the scenes. Even if, ultimately, your target will also cover mobiles, the engine will create intelligent levels of detail (level of detail) for this platform without the usual drudgery associated with creating game assets.
For the demo, the environment team was half of the classic Epic environment artists, then a few others who came came straight from a VFX film company. They said, “Wow, this is crazy. It’s like writing in the metaverse. I’m just taking a rock. It looks like a rock. I can move it, scale and light it, adjust the boundaries around it and always get results. It’s a huge leap forward in terms of artist friendliness and visual resources. This video really is – it’s basically an HDMI capture device plugged into the back of a PlayStation. These are the pixels generated by the engine. Quality in all simplicity is what we aim for.
GamesBeat: The video is pretty amazing. Do you want to set an expectation on the appearance of games compared to things like, for example, mobiles, up to new consoles and high-end PCs?
Sweeney: The goal here is that you can create your content at the highest possible quality and the engine will automatically reduce it on each platform, so you don’t have to worry about texture maps and levels. polygon. You can rely on technology to do this.
The demo demonstrates the highest level of quality, which is available on PlayStation 5 and other new generation hardware. Any other platform that does not have these capabilities will go through a more traditional rendering pipeline, in which we will take these assets that you have created and reduce them to more traditional levels of detail, rendering them so that you can – there will be a version of this demo that you could run on Android devices from three years ago. The detail of the polygon will be much lower, but it will be the same scene and you can create the same game.
It should be, because as we said, we’re launching Fortnite on next generation consoles this year on UE4. We will be moving it to UE5 over the next year. Fortnite will continue to support the seven platforms it supports now, as well as the two new ones that have been announced. We have to support the game on all hardware, and we have to do it without the game developers having to create an item, content twice.
GamesBeat: In terms of calling Unreal Engine 5, what was important in this particular decision? What do you think is the difference as an Unreal Engine 5?
Sweeney: It’s a real generational leap in new features. Even if it doesn’t break the previous things, Unreal Engine 5 will be a simple upgrade for anyone working with Unreal Engine 4. It will be like going through a few minor version updates. But it has major new graphics features for a new generation of hardware, defined by the PlayStation 5. These capabilities also happen on PC and elsewhere.
We are activating a new paradigm for game development in which each generation introduces a new set of problems that you need to worry about and hopefully removes an old generation of problems so you don’t have to worry about them anymore. We’re trying to remove the scalability problem for this generation’s content and get developers thinking about a new way to create games. It builds on some of the things we learned from Fortnite. You can create a high end console game, it can be fantastic and you can also make it work on smartphones. You can create a much larger audience than just hardcore gaming audiences by shipping it to more platforms.
Technology can make this happen and make it more productive. The online tool set can do the same. We want to help the entire gaming industry reach this better place.