Unreal Engine 5: a hands-on of Epic next-gen technology - article

Unreal Engine 5: a hands-on of Epic next-gen technology - article

Unreal Engine 5

Last week Epic released Unreal Engine 5 for early access, along with a demo project (Valley of the Ancient) made available to developers. Two new technologies are key to Unreal Engine 2: Nanite, which aims to provide something like 'infinite detail', and Lumen, which represents state-of-the-art lighting solutions. Set to maximum details (epic preset), the demo targets 1080p and 30fps on PS5 and Xbox Series X. But here another technology comes into play, Temporal Super Resolution (TSR), which uses smart upscaling to deliver a presentation. convincing in 4K. These are cutting-edge technologies and having spent a lot of time with the UE5 on PC, we have some impressions and first numbers related to performance.

First of all, this initial early access version of the UE5 is free and free to download, so you can try it out if you want. But it should be noted that it is very far from the full version and lacks some important features and optimizations. The engine is a standalone download, and the Valley of the Ancient demo is a separate download weighing 100GB. This build uses uncompressed assets, while a more advanced build weighs around 25GB. The demo is quite simple and we have a demonstration of it on an RTX 3090 further down the page. Essentially, it offers some elements of exploration that allow you to appreciate the excellent quality of the presentation (and the way in which Nanite stages a vast open world), plus a boss battle that offers greater possibilities for interaction.

Alex Battaglia and John Linneman share their first impressions by experiencing Unreal Engine 5 and the Valley of the Ancient demo.

Watch on YouTube. The fact that this demo runs at 1080p30 did turn up some noses, but this is UE5 set to epic preset and the Lumen global lighting solution is doubly heavier than the initial PS5 demo we saw last year (and that java at 1400p). Also, juxtaposing objects with multiple layers of Nanite to create a beautiful world presents an additional load. But the TSR still delivers an impressive result, not as crystal clear as a native 4K presentation, but certainly comparable and far superior to a native 1080p presentation. There have been several speculations that this may have been a 'downgraded' cross-platform demo of last year's PS5 demo, but these were promptly squashed by Epic's graphic engineer Brian Karis, who confirmed in a live stream that the latest demo runs well on PC and also on Series X.

So what can we get from this hands-on opportunity? Simply, that Nanite works. It allows us to bring the camera as close as we want to any object in the game world, and the level of detail is incredible, limited only by the fact that it is imported into the UE5. However, a discontinuity in quality may be encountered if the various assets have different levels of complexity or texture density and if they are displayed in the same scene close to each other. However, we believe that the surplus value in the Nanite is not so much the level of detail itself, but rather the continuity of the same over time and the fact that the LOD pop-up is totally absent. However, we have not explored Lumen in the same way, a technology that is still maturing but which bodes very well with its impressive bounce lighting effects, as you can see in the attached video below.

Here it is. what the Valley of the Ancient demo looks like set at maximum detail on a TX 3090.

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We are faced with a decidedly cutting-edge technology and inevitably there is a price to pay . Not even an overclocked RTX 3090 is capable of running the demo at 60fps locked at 1080p with TSR active for 4K output. On the CPU front, a Ryzen 5 3600 (similar in power to next-gen console CPUs) can't process frames fast enough to hit 60fps, but higher-end PC processors succeed in the same task. As for mainstream GPUs, products like the RTX 2060 Super and RX 5700 deliver performance in the order of 30fps, while higher-end products like the RTX 2070 Super quietly handle 1080p30 without using all the power they have. We also tested the demo on a laptop with an RTX 2070 (equivalent to a desktop RTX 2060 but with more RAM) and managed to get 1080p30 without any problems (1080p30 without TSR). So we can say that there is good scalability with graphics hardware, but we are curious to see if these technologies can be compatible with 60fps gameplay.

Obviously we are only in the first few days of contact with Unreal Engine 5, but it is good to see that Epic is pushing the graphics to new levels in several aspects. If you are the technical type it is worth checking out the UE5 early access release and have fun exploring the Valley of the Ancient demo. If you just want to see the results it is capable of, the video captured and attached on the page shows our tests on an RTX 3090. But we are more interested in how Nanite and Lumen technologies will be used in real games, and developers like Ninja Theory and The Coalition have chosen UE5, so we will soon see the results of their work with these new and promising technologies sooner or later.

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