Epic Games launches Unreal Engine 5, now available to download
Following an extensive early preview, Epic Games has today fully launched Unreal Engine 5. The news comes from the company’s “State of Unreal” virtual event where the impressive next-generation game engine was the star of the show, and it is available to download now.
For game developers, Unreal Engine 5 is a huge deal, and naturally provides a host of performance improvements over its predecessor. But the real stand out is how Unreal Engine 5 will enable more photorealistic visuals in future games. Though it’s not the only thing it provides since Fortnite moved over to Unreal Engine 5 with its Chapter 3 launch, it is hardly top of the class for realism.
Two of the key tools in Unreal Engine 5 that make the magic happen are Lumen and Nanite. The former is used for dynamic lighting, allowing it to adapt to the game world, while the latter provides an avenue for high-quality visual assets while maintaining frame rate and fidelity.
For an example of how truly impressive Unreal Engine 5 titles can be you only have to look at The Matrix Awakens. While little more than a tech demo, at first glance you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for one of the Matrix movies. Anyone can download and try it out on PC, Xbox and PlayStation for a glimpse at the future.
The future of Unreal Engine 5 looks bright, too, with Epic Games CTO, Kim Libreri, discussing the relationship between the company and its partners in conversation with IGN. As developers use Unreal Engine 5, if any find improvements that can be made, these can go back to Epic and then be made available to use by other game developers. It’s not open-source, but it’s certainly a great way to ensure that everyone wins.
One example touted comes from The Coalition, which supplied improvements to Unreal Engine 5 that allows these intensive lighting techniques to run efficiently on consoles. And Epic Games won’t be short of high-profile suitors, with CD Projekt Red already confirming that its next game in The Witcher franchise will run on Unreal Engine 5 over its in-house game engine. Crystal Dynamics will also be making the next Tomb Raider using the tech, too.
To make the onboarding process a little easier, Epic Games has also released a number of starter projects to play and tinker with. These include Lyra, a shooter, and City Sample which contains the entire city setup from The Matrix Awakens. Unreal Engine 5 can be downloaded now from the Epic Games Launcher.