Unreal Engine 5 And What The Fuss Is About
Made by Epic Games, Unreal Engine is one of the most widely used game engines in the world for AAA industry and indie alike. The new Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) includes many long-anticipated upgrades and a slew of impressive new capabilities. The unique features of Unreal Engine 5 are discussed here, as well as the reasons why we already adore this Engine.
- Unreal Engine 5 And What The Fuss Is About
- What Is New And Shiny In UE5?
- Unity vs. Unreal: Key Differences
- Unreal Engine 4 vs 5 (UE4 vs. UE5)
- Future of Games: Unreal Engine 5 Expands Beyond Gaming
- For The Upcoming Witcher Game, CD Projekt Red Will Use Unreal Engine 5
- Cool Demos That Showcase UE5
What Is New And Shiny In UE5?
Game and virtual production developers increasingly rely on Unreal Engine (including technology for other industries like digital twins). With UE5, developers have the freedom to take advantage of new features and capabilities of UE5 such as Nanite and Lumen, etc. on small to large scale projects, blurring the gap between indie and AAA production quality. End consumers will enjoy stunning aesthetics and engaging experiences across a wide range of sectors thanks to these new features and real-time collaboration tools for artists. Let’s take a closer look at what it offers.
Using Nanite’s virtualized geometry, you can create complex and high-poly film-quality models and bring them into UE5 without having to worry about poly count or performance. Under the hood, Nanite uses a new highly optimized proprietary mesh format alongside a new rendering system to intelligently perceive only the details that are necessary and no more. It also provides an automatic Level of Details (LOD) system so developers don’t have to manually generate LODs for each model making the process much easier and streamlined. This also enables artists to scan real-world objects and import the high-quality models directly into UE5 without having to manually optimize and bake detail into normal map textures. And don’t worry, your performance won’t be affected by doing this thanks to Nanite. Real-time frame rates are maintained.
Although nanite is a game-changing technology, as always there are some limitations that you need to keep in mind. For instance, nanite currently only works with rigid meshes. That means dynamic/moving meshes including character models cannot use nanite.
For more details on the nanite limitations, you can read the documentation.
Lighting is the most important factor in creating a convincing scene. For example, changing the illumination to match a new light source like a torch (or even a sudden beam entering the scene) may be done rapidly with Lumen. It’s capable of fine-tuning lighting for everything from wide-open landscapes to fast-moving action.
Up until now, developers had to bake lighting into lightmap textures faking it in the process as real-time Global Illumination (GI) had been a huge performance bottleneck. Although in recent years, GPU manufacturers such as Nvidia and AMD offered real-time ray tracing as an alternative for baked GI, it was computationally very expensive leaving only a small portion of games (mostly AAA) adopting this technology. This made the process much more difficult for the developers to implement convincing and performant GI.
But with Lumen, you can now have real-time GI with just a toggle. Lumen uses multiple forms of ray tracing for both software and hardware ray tracing along with a technology called “Surface Cache” to provide global illumination and reflection.
Although Lumen seems very promising for the future of game development enabling developers to implement stunning dynamic GI with ease, it also comes with a few caveats. First of all, Lumen does not support mobile games and Epic has no intentions of enabling this in the future either since Ray Traced Global Illumination (RTGI) is way too expensive for mobile performance. Lumen also does not support VR at the moment either as it is also difficult for the high frame rates and resolutions needed for a good VR experience.
For more details on the limitations of Lumen, you can read the documentation.
Early demos have also showcased that Lumen similar to Ray Traced Global Illumination (RTGI), comes at a performance cost as it has to do a lot of calculations on the fly. However, we believe Epic will most likely improve the performance aspects of Lumen in future updates.
World Partition System
To create Open Worlds more quickly and seamlessly, World Partition automatically divides the World into a grid and streams just the cells required for a given scenario. Data Layers and the OFPA system allow team members to work on the same part of a world simultaneously without interfering with each other’s work. In contrast, the OFPA system allows many versions of the world to exist at the same time such as day and night versions in the exact physical location.
This technology will be a game-changer for large-scale open-world games made by large teams such as AAA studios more so than for the indie developers.
Quixel Megascans Integration
The whole Quixel Megascans library for usage with Unreal Engine is included free of charge with every Unreal Engine license. This high-quality library contains thousands of 3D and 2D PBR elements with optimized topology, UVs, LODs, and consistent scale and resolution. You may easily drag and drop your chosen Megascan models onto your scene using the Quixel Bridge integration with Unreal Editor.
Apart from the above-discussed features, there are a lot more key features and capabilities offered by Unreal Engine 5 including Temporal Super Resolution, MetaSounds, Characters & Animation, etc. that you can read more about here.
Unity vs. Unreal: Key Differences
Artists favor Unreal, while programmers choose Unity. Using Unreal Engine 4 or 5, you’ll be able to produce better visuals in less time. Many visual elements (such as volumetric fog and post-processing) come pre-installed in Unreal Engine; however, they are free assets in Unity that must be downloaded and installed individually.
Unreal Engine has always been a great choice for the AAA studios more so than for indie developers as it focuses more on producing stunning visuals than on supporting low-end devices and platforms. This trend can also be seen continued in UE5 as well.
On the other hand, Unity has been focusing more on the indie game development industry as they have been the go-to choice for indie developers for years as it supports seamless integrations for many different devices and platforms ranging from low-end mobile devices to high-end PCs and consoles and has features tailored towards indie developers more so than AAA studios. Unity also has a larger indie community as it has been around for longer than Unreal in the hands of indie developers.
However, this is not to say that you cannot use Unreal Engine as an indie developer or Unity as an AAA studio and vice versa. In fact, there are numerous AAA games made with Unity such as “Escape From Tarkov”, “Cuphead” etc. as well as a lot of indie games made with Unreal. In recent years both engines have been addressing their weaknesses.
When it comes to 3D modeling software, Unreal Engine’s Material Editor is on par with node editors like those found in programs like Maya and Blender. The API for the Unity Material Editor is still lacking in terms of functionality.
There are a lot of similarities between the feature sets of Unity and Unreal’s engines, but I’d like to point out a few differences.
The first is the quality of Unreal Engine’s AI implementation. It’s possible to generate stunning outcomes with the Behavior Tree system in UE4 and UE5. You may switch between the Blackboard and the Behavior Tree editors to design more sophisticated scenarios.
If you want to make a 2D game, it is better to go with Unity as it is considerably easier to create 2D games when you have access to tools like sprite editors and animation software that are available for Unity. However, the Paper2D plugin for Unreal is one option to investigate.
In addition to that, there is network support. You’ll need to use 3rd-party libraries to get it in Unity. On the other side, replication is built into Unreal, and you can make multiplayer games in both C++ and Blueprints seamlessly.
Although both engines have been written in C++, the programming language used to code in Unity is C#, while Unreal sticks with C++. According to many perspectives, C++ is more difficult to learn than C# due to the steep learning curve, and it’s generally easier to find a seasoned Unity developer than a seasoned Unreal developer.
On the other hand, visual code editors are available for both engines (Blueprint in Unreal Engine and Bolt in Unity). However, they differ: Compiled by UE’s Codegen, Unreal’s Blueprint is a legitimate C++ class. The high-level nodes available in Blueprint are tightly integrated with the UE’s systems. Unity’s solution on the other hand is merely a graphical interface for connecting basic/low-level nodes and scripts together and lacks a lot of high-level nodes.
It isn’t easy to compare two different engines’ performance. Consider many elements, including the quality of textures and the number of objects in your games. All of these things are dependent on programmers and designers. We can’t use C++ vs. C# benchmarks because each Engine has its own SDK and Unity compiles C# code into C++ anyway when you build. To cite just one example, Epic strongly recommends that programmers use its own memory management technology.
In general, you can push both engines to get the results you want whether you want a hyper-realistic game or a simple mobile game. The performance will depend on the way you utilized the capabilities of the engine.
Unreal Engine 4 vs 5 (UE4 vs. UE5)
The graphics comparison between Unreal Engine 4 and Unreal Engine 5 is one of the most intriguing aspects of the study. The compatibility of Unreal Engine 4 and Unreal Engine 5 models is also a great feature.
There will be no issues if you want to move your models or software from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5. The Unreal Engine 4.25 and 4.26 API can be used with version 5.0. That is to say, don’t hold your breath for any significant changes to the API.
Unreal Engine 4 projects can be transferred to Unreal Engine 5. In fact, there will be no issues in the future because the interface and architectural system are the same. However! Unreal Engine 5 projects cannot be transferred to Unreal Engine 4. Because UE4 does not support Nanite and Lumen technologies, you may find significant issues in your project. Epic Games has yet to offer an official remark on the subject.
Dynamic lighting seems to be a significant focus for Unreal Engine. You will see this in full when you look at the UE4-vs-UE5 comparison. As shown in the image above, dynamic lighting in Unreal Engine 5 appears to be far superior to anything else. Lumen and Nanite technology are used to create emotional lighting effects. In Global Lighting, Unreal Engine 5 is a step ahead of Unreal Engine 4, thus Unreal Engine 5 should be chosen over Unreal Engine 4 for newer projects.
Future of Games: Unreal Engine 5 Expands Beyond Gaming
Increasing numbers of individuals are looking for additional forms of amusement and recreation outside of video games as technology progresses. Entertainment, tech, and gaming sectors are working on ways to replicate real-world events like concerts, parties, and more in the digital realm.
To create genuinely immersive virtual worlds, the greatest starting point is game engines like Unreal Engine 5. As with the MetaHuman Creator, Epic’s goal with Unreal Engine 5 is to position it as a software engine that can be used for more than just video games.
Unreal Engine might become a studio staple for producers and concept designers who want to merge 3D visuals and other digital characters into a physical studio setting.
For The Upcoming Witcher Game, CD Projekt Red Will Use Unreal Engine 5
As a result of the new game’s use of Unreal Engine 5, CD Projekt RED has also announced a multi-year strategic cooperation with Epic Games. According to the release, Epic Games will cover the license, the technical development of UE5, and the development of future versions of UE. CD Projekt RED intends to have in-house developers work with Epic to customize UE5 for “open-world experiences,” starting with the game for the next Witcher game.
Remarkably, REDengine CDPR’s in-house was used in their last major release, Cyberpunk 2077, widely derided by gamers. For planned expansions of Cyberpunk 2077, CDPR has also stated that the REDengine technology will be used. Cyberpunk 2077, released in December 2020, has been plagued by numerous delays and issues both before and after its release. Because of glitches and sluggishness, the game was briefly taken down from the PlayStation Store. According to CDPR and other analysts, it seems most of the issues that plagued Cyberpunk 2077 are related to their REDengine as maintaining a game engine while a AAA game is being made simultaneously is a real cumbersome process.
One of the most important aspects of CDPR’s partnership with Epic Games is that the new game will be developed on UE5. For the time being, it appears that any plans to use or adapt the REDengine for future games have been put on hold. When it comes to the return of The Witcher games, CDPR must put its best foot forward in light of the stellar reputation of The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
This is what CD Project Red had to say about the partnership with Epic Games and their decision to move away from the REDengine into Unreal Engine 5.
To repair CDPR’s tarnished reputation, the company cannot afford another public failure like the development and launch of Cyberpunk 2077.
Apart from CDPR, there had been a few other game studios that announced their future games on UE5 including Crystal Dynamics announcing a new Tomb Raider game on UE5 and The Coalition the developers of the Gears of War series.
Cool Demos That Showcase UE5
Even though Unreal Engine 5 is still in its infancy, we’ve already seen some fantastic work produced by users all around the internet. Examples of recent creations are seen below.
Superman Demo – Unreal Engine 5 Experience
Superman Unreal Engine 5 Demo by Tyson Butler-Boschma has been released for PC. A flying superhero in this demo replaces an Epic The Matrix Awakens Project City figure.
Matrix Demo – Unreal Engine 5 Experience
Epic released an Unreal Engine 5 tech demo called The Matrix Awakens before The Matrix: Resurrections aired on HBO. It looked terrific as Keanu Reeves and his pals drove around and wrecked this huge and photorealistic city. Today, for the first time, we’ll be able to drive one of the city’s 38,146 drivable vehicles on PC—with a few caveats.
Iron Man Demo – Unreal Engine 5 Experience
“Aaron Wayne Morse” created this free Iron Man-themed tech demo. Players appear to be able to soar through the air, as Iron Man. It has a cool landing animation for smashing onto the ground. Unfortunately, there are no fighting moves shown in this Iron Man tech demo. To put it another way, you can only fly around.
Other Demos – By The Community
Unreal Engine 5 with its slew of new features and capabilities will likely define the next generation of games and real-time visual production. Although not every studio will be jumping into UE5 abandoning their own proprietary engines, the technologies in UE5 will most likely be a target to catch up. Therefore Unreal Engine 5 is definitely going to be one of the major tools to learn as a developer or an artist if you are looking forward to the future and the job market.