Unreal Engine 5 is one of the most promising graphics engines today. Since its presentation in May 2020, we have witnessed its enormous technical capabilities with demos like ‘The Matrix Awakens’. The absolute realism that Epic Games pursues, however, still has a way to go, but this interesting and ambitious journey is leaving us with truly remarkable progress.

During the State of Unreal at GDC 2023, the creators of ‘Fortnite’ presented Unreal 5.2, the latest version of the game engine that arrives with a set of new features that open the doors to more realistic titles. Making a significant leap forward in graphics while maintaining a balance between development teams’ efforts and GPU requirements is one of the industry’s greatest challenges.

A ride in a Rivian R1T to show off the new Unreal Engine

What better way to introduce the new version of the graphics engine than with a visual demo. Epic Games invited us to dive in for a ride on a natural environment with a Rivian R1T. As we can see, the scenery is full of vegetation, rocks and even crossed by a river. The level of detail and lighting is a real treat, but even more so are the possibilities that open up for developers.

In Unreal Engine 5.2 it will be much easier and faster to create large virtual worlds with excellent graphic quality. This will be possible thanks to the new Procedural Content Generation Framework (PCG), which offers new rules and parameters for building scenes with a large number of parts with the graphics engine. This could become an important benefit for next generation game development.

Also new in this version is the Substrate, a new way to create materials that can modify the appearance of what real time objects and creating linear content. There are also improvements in the scene creation and control system, which allows for a dynamic workflow and lets you combine shots from different angles, although the latter is more geared towards the world of cinema than video games.

In the demo, precisely, we see these three improvements in action. The entire natural environment was built thanks to PCG, and developers can add and remove elements simply by dragging and dropping them. The substrate kicks in when the car’s color suddenly changes. This example, they explain, can be replicated in any object, changing its visual properties in seconds.

Unreal Engine 5.2 also comes with performance and stability improvements, but the final version is yet to be released. Epic Games hopes developers will test new features and help find issues before general release, which will open the door for all these improvements in future games. The previous version can now be downloaded from the Epic Games Launcher and GitHub.

Images: Epic Games (event screenshot)

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