Now out of early access, Unreal Engine 5 is still in its infancy for game development. As with any significant release of this size, game developers will have to wait for it to become ‘development ready’. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used as an ongoing baseline, a place to experiment, or a potential plan for the future.
For those even on the outskirts of the gaming industry, there is the question of why Unreal Engine 5 or UE5 is so important. The answer is simply that it will change the way we develop games. With its introduction of new features such as the Lumen Global Lighting System, the World Partition Tool, and the MetaHuman Character Creator, it means game developers and designers have a plethora of ground-breaking tools and toys to play with.
Developers in the gaming and entertainment industry now have access to a dynamic and scalable level of detail for their projects. They can fill their worlds with realistic, dynamic lighting, and efficiently load the world geometry to keep things playing smoothly. And they can populate that world with a huge library of assets and easily created, lifelike characters. These tools both increase quality and ensure a stable performance, something many console game development projects are excited for. The team at Magic Media are too! Given our experience developing for console, we can’t wait to tackle the next big project.
With our own expertise, in full-cycle development and co-development, we’re excited to see what we can achieve with it. Let’s look at some of these features and how they might be used to evolve the current landscape of game development.
World Partition Tool and Nanite Geometry
One thing that any player might notice in the modern gaming industry is the size of games. Even if they’re not world-spanning RPG experiences, there seems to be a desire for huge worlds to explore and large areas to fight or sneak through. Creating these environments, even in contained settings, is difficult. And that is where something like the World Partition Tool comes in.
This tool breaks down large levels into sublevels, streamlining the loading process and allowing developers to view massive worlds as one piece. As opposed to the typical method to shorten load times, which is to create multiple individual levels and piece them together. World Partition only loads what is needed as the player sees it, fluidly lowering quality for large draw distances to keep things running smoothly. This tool also allows developers to create multiple layers of the same world – so in an instant you can switch to different seasons or to a war-torn version of the same map.
Nanite Geometry helps with this visual upgrade. It’s a smart tool which highly compresses data when not in use and will only utilise the full quality when the detail can actually be perceived. The smart part is that it will do this automatically!
What does all of this mean for game developers? It means that greater worlds can be created faster. More detail can be included without sacrificing the size or scale of your world. And that detail can be retained, ensuring that the frame budget is kept clean. It lets developers and level designers to go wild, creating incredible worlds for players to discover.
Creating realistic humans is one of the toughest jobs to do. Our tools get us so far but dropping into the uncanny valley is always a threat. And in less severe cases, it can sometimes just be obvious that the face is ‘wrong’. Human features are hard to execute properly, after all we look at them every day!
The MetaHuman tool allows developers and character artists to generate characters quickly and to a high standard. Allowing finer, pin-point work to be done afterwards. They can serve as a baseline for a character or can even be used for bulking out a crowd of NPCs.
This tool allows the developers, artists, and animators to have faster access to high quality characters. Quickly and easily, meaning more time can be spent on refinement, rigging, and animation. It saves a lot of time and in the game development pipeline, time is everything!
Last but certainly not least is a shining beacon to what Unreal Engine 5 can do for game development. Literally! Lumen Global Lighting is a system created for UE5, offering full, dynamic lighting. Global illumination, reflections, realistic lighting all at the fingertips of artists, developers, and designers.
Even in larger, open environments, the lighting system solves many of Unreal Engine 4’s previous issues and simply hands a dynamic lighting system to users. Once set up, it will interact with whatever props you include in the scene.
Light, and how it interacts with the world, is something that most people wouldn’t say is important. But it is something that is always noticed, even subconsciously. Putting this tool into the hands of game developers and game artists mean taking scenes into new heights of realism. It means greater immersion which means better player investment!
These are just a few of the incredible tools, improvements, and additions that Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 brings to the world of game development. We hope that this helped open your eyes to the tremendous effect that Unreal Engine 5 is having and will continue to have on the world of game development.
If you’d like to consider Unreal Engine 5 for your upcoming game project, get in touch today! We’re ready and excited to tackle any project on this new and incredible engine. Check out some of our previous work here or some case studies here!