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Unreal Engine 5 Enters Early Access, Full Version Planned for 2022

Epic’s Unreal Engine 5, which was first revealed in May 2020, has entered Early Access, and the company has outlined some of the key features that the newest version of their engine brings to the table.

One of these features is Nanite, a “virtualized micropolygon geometry system” that allows for “massive amounts of geometric detail” and replaces the mesh LOD system. Meanwhile, Temporal Super Resolution is a new anti-aliasing solution that claims to provide a near-native 4K level of quality “at the cost of 1080p”.

Elsewhere, there’s Lumen, which provides “fully dynamic” global illumination with indirect lighting that “adapts on the fly” based on changes to direct lighting or geometry. “With Lumen, you no longer have to author lightmap UVs, wait for lightmaps to bake, or place reflection captures; you can simply create and edit lights inside the Unreal Editor and see the same final lighting as when the game is run on console,” says Epic.

Other features include:

  • A new Sky Atmosphere System for providing realistic simulations of the time of day. Also enables users to “carefully art direct” volumetric clouds and modify aspects like atmospherics, the position of the sun, and fog.

  • Free Megascans assets and Bridge integration.

  • World Partition system that “automatically divides the world into a grid and streams the necessary cells when required”, a One File Per Actor system to make simultaneous collaborative work easier, and Data Layers to “create different variations of the same World… as layers that exist in the same space”.

  • Control Rig for rig-creating and sharing rigs among more than one character, Pose Browser for saving and applying poses as assets, Full-Body IKSolver for creating natural movement easily, and Motion Warping for dynamic adjustment of characters’ root motion “to align to different targets… with a single animation”.

  • MetaSounds for “complete control over audio DSP graph generation of sound sources”.

  • Tweaks to Unreal Editor including streamlined workflows and “optimized use of screen real estate”. Some new features include a system for favouriting, the ability to dock editor tabs to the collapsible sidebar, and to bring up and put away the Content Browser without hassle.

Epic says that the Early Access version of Unreal 5 “broadly supports” the platforms that UE4 supports, but that Nanite and Lumen are currently next-gen consoles and Windows-only. The full version of Unreal Engine 5 is planned for an early 2022 release.

Aside from Unreal Engine 5 Early Access, the Valley of the Ancient sample project used for the presentation video is also available as a separate 100GB download.


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