This is not a drill! Unreal has just revealed the first official gameplay running on a PlayStation 5. In the video seen below, Unreal shows off how insanely beautiful the graphics produced by the PlayStation 5.
Doesn’t that look insane?! At the center of Epic Games’ new Engine are two new features: Lumen and Nanite. Here’s what the new technologies entail.
Lumen is Epic’s new take on lighting. In a blogpost they describe how the PlayStation 5 generates light. “The system renders diffuse inter-reflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in huge, detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters.”
In other words, it’s a similar technology to NVIDIA’s raytracing, where it traces ‘beams’ of light through an environment. How the light particle reacts to surfaces by bouncing around is calculated by the graphics engine. The more complex, the more calculations. So, a beefy hardware setup is essential.
For developers, Lumen is a great way to save time as they won’t need to create lightmaps. According to Epic “artists can move a light inside the Unreal Editor” and it renders in real time just like it would on the PlayStation.
Another big part of Unreal 5 is going to be the way the engine handles geometry. With Nanite, a PlayStation 5 will make sure ‘film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine.’ Again, in layman terms this means the engine is capable of streaming high quality geometry without any quality loss.
Apparently there isn’t a limit to ‘polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets; there is no need to bake details to normal maps or manually author LODs; and there is no loss in quality.’
Not in time for PlayStation 5 release
Before we get too excited about the insanely detailed gameplay coming to our homes, we have to wait a while before this particular PlayStation 5 engine actually comes out. The preview (alpha) version of Unreal Engine 5 is slated for early 2021. The full release should be in late 2021. In other words, not in time for the Holiday release window of the next generation consoles.
Unreal Engine 5 will support next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.