Unreal Engine 5 is Epic Games’ latest game development engine. With multiple new features and optimization technology, the fifth iteration of the engine originally used to develop Unreal Tournament is a massive improvement over the last gen.
Previously, we have seen multiple AAA video game developers use this engine to power their titles. However, recently, the number has multiplied, with more big names in the game development scene using Unreal Engine for their project. This is because of the multiple innovations and technologies and the new iteration of the engine packs. They drastically reduce development time and effort while being state-of-the-art.
Undoubtedly, UE5 is better than many custom engines veteran developers have come up with. The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077 developers CD Projekt Red has acknowledged that their RED Engine is not as sophisticated as Unreal Engine 5. Thus, there are multiple reasons why UE5 is acting as such an important tool to shape the future of the gaming industry. Let’s check them out.
Unreal Engine 5 is a miraculous tool for many, starting from indie to AAA developers
1. Innovations in character model design processes
Video game development is a long and tiresome process. Designing character models takes months. However, Unreal Engine 5 comes with an innovative technology that reduces the time required to design a character model by heaps.
Epic Games’ Metahuman technology lets developers extremely detailed character models within an hour. The tool packs insane customization options that allow developers to enjoy as much freedom as other 3D modeling software like Autodesk Maya and Blender.
Metahuman runs on even a browser, thereby cutting the system requirements. The character models can be imported into Unreal Engine via a single click. This massively speeds up the process.
2. Advancements in asset detail optimization
Optimizing video games is a painful process like traditional character model design. Developers have to design multiple models of the same asset with varying levels of detail. As the player approaches a model, the higher-quality model is loaded and as they move away, a lower-quality model is loaded to reduce the load on the system.
UE5 gets rid of this problem. Nanite, Unreal Engine’s new geometry system, allows “limitless geometry.” This technology will enable developers to plug movie-quality assets into a video game and still enjoy optimal performance. Developers no longer have to
Thus, developers can design models with great detail without running into performance issues.
Epic Games released a detailed trailer upon launch to showcase the differences created with Nanite. The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience allows players to switch triangle views on and off in real time, allowing them to judge the visual complexity of the scene.
3. Lumen and improvements in lighting technology
Unreal Engine 5 comes with a new dynamic lighting technology called Lumen as well. This is a massive improvement over the classic global illumination and reflections system. Since Lumen is real-time, less time is spent baking reflections and perfecting other illumination techniques at a video game level.
Thus, Lumen is a game-changer for 3D artists. This new technology entirely gets rid of compromises in lighting techniques that used to be made to speed up the process in smaller projects in the past since lightmap farms are a thing of the past.
Lumen is integrated with Nanite to deliver high-quality and accurate environments that come with detailed geometry and accurate lighting.
4. World Partition and other level management systems
Unreal Engine 5 also comes with a new management system called World Partition. This allows gamers to seamlessly optimize large open worlds without having to worry about loading and offloading levels from the memory in both AAA games and indie titles.
However, with the new technology, developers do not have to spend time optimizing large open worlds. The engine now does that by itself. Wold Partition allows developers to divide the world into multiple smaller chunks and as the player gets close and away from them, they are loaded and offloaded from the memory, accordingly. This technology, coupled with the intelligent unloading and offloading of Nanite, keeps the framerate of the game up.
This technology will be seen in action in the upcoming The Witcher installment.
Some other features inside of World Partition have eased the workflow for developers as well. One File Per Action (OFPA) allows a team of developers to work on small segments of the world without affecting anyone else’s work. This drastically speeds up the process. Previously, if anyone started work on a segment of the world, it would lock out the other developer.
5. Improvements in asset availability
High-quality assets were rather unavailable to small-scale indie developers until Quixel launched their Megascans asset library. It is a collection of detailed 8K production-ready assets and is completely free. While Megascans assets were available for use with UE4, the library is now a plugin inside of UE5. Thus, developers can directly drag and drop the assets into their levels, which reduces development time significantly.
Thus, with Unreal Engine 5, indie development quality is expected to hit new highs as high-quality assets are now easily available to all developers for free.