In 2020, Epic Games announced the Unreal Engine 5, for a final release in 2022. A year later, the fifth version of the game engine has changed the world of video games, even if gamers do not yet feel it. the consequences completely.
While AAA companies generally have their own video game engines tailored to their needs, independent studios and solo developers most often use one of the two major engines, Unity and Unreal Engine.
Traditionally, Unity is the more widely used of the two. It is generally recognized as being easier to handle. But in 2020, when Unreal Engine announces its version 5.0, the almost photorealistic graphics that Epic Games offers create a passion that goes far beyond the simple sphere of developers.
Nanites, Lumen, Metahumans: the impressive innovations of Unreal Engine 5
Nanites are the innovation of Unreal Engine 5 that has been the most highlighted by the media. They allow impressive graphics rendering for less computing power. The system is based on a “distance level” logic.
The closer the camera gets to an object, the more detailed it becomes, and vice versa. In such a way that the computer only has to calculate what is necessary for an ideal rendering. On the other hand, this system is very expensive in terms of size, since all the objects exist in duplicate or even in triple version.
But that’s not the only advancement provided by Epic Games. Lumen, for example, is a system for calculating the reflection of light in real time, and requiring limited computing power. A technical feat while the old video game systems required to calculate these in advance.
Metahumans (metahumans) stand as another impressive Unreal Engine advancement. This system makes it possible to create photorealistic humans in just a few clicks. With a little effort, it is even possible to recreate a real person from a few photos.
The era of novelties and AI
It must be said that the game engine comes at a time when advances are legion in the field of 3D modeling and special effects, largely thanks to the giant leaps made over the past few decades in the field of intelligence. artificial.
We are witnessing a small revolution in the video game industry with generative AIs that allow you to create textures instantly, or photogrammetry, now easily accessible, which allows you to reproduce an object in 3D with a few photos.
It is also photogrammetry that gave Unreal Engine another of its flagship features: Megascans, a library of photorealistic models freely available to developers.
In the same vein, it is now relatively easy to make a motion capture from a video, which greatly helps animators to be able to give fluid and believable movements to their characters at a lower cost.
AAA quality within everyone’s reach?
In this context, it is not surprising to have seen flourish, just a few months after Epic Games revealed the fifth iteration of its game engine, announcements of new (or remakes of old) games developed on Unreal Engine 5. Among these, there are even several AAA games: Tomb Raider, The Witcher, Bioshock…
But the real revolution lies in the fact that this graphic quality which was previously difficult to access for independent studios now becomes much easier to reproduce.
It must be said that it is even possible for individuals to get started, as evidenced by the reconstructions by enthusiasts of entire cities from games such as Morrowind or Skyrim that can be seen on Youtube.
What’s more, with the 5.2 update, it’s now possible to create entire maps in an admittedly procedural, yet logical and orderly way, bringing solo developers one step closer to being able to create their own games themselves. in Open World.
Un look Unreal Engine ?
With the craze for Unreal Engine 5, some are however worried about a standardization and an impoverishment of the video game industry. Since Unreal Engine allows for photorealistic graphics, it is indeed not impossible to think that the future will be filled with identically graphically styled games.
However, a wide variety of graphic styles is possible, if you take the trouble.
But it is clear that with Metahuman and Megascans, for example, a developer can easily feel pressured to give his game the “Unreal Engine look”.
The Unreal Editor: when Fortnite becomes Roblox
And, if it may seem anecdotal, one of the most important revolutions of Unreal Engine 5 is Epic Games’ decision to integrate it into the Fortnite game, in the form of the Unreal Editor.
This gives Fortnite the ability to transform into any modded video game. Fortnite will thus become a multifaceted and multifunctional game, like a Roblox or a Minecraft, but with photorealistic graphics.
A success outside of video games
Unreal Engine even leaves the purely video game sphere to become a popular tool in the field of special effects and animation. It allows animators to create larger-than-life scenery in a simpler and more precise way than a tool like Blender or Maia would. Although these 3D modeling tools are generally still needed to sculpt the objects themselves.
In a more anecdotal way, the company Wizards of the Coast has announced the development of a virtual game table for Dungeons and Dragons based on Unreal Engines 5, demonstrating the ubiquity of the game engine in extremely varied fields.
The little Unreal Engine revolution
With only a year of existence, it is true that most games developed on Unreal Engine 5 are still far from their release date. Nevertheless, the possibilities offered by the engine, as well as the many amateur projects using Unreal Engine 5 that we see flourishing on social networks, suggest that the world of video games, as well as that of special effects, will experience a transformation. deep, thanks in large part to the Epic Games engine.
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