Unreal Engine 5: Early access is over, launch is official


After just under a year of early access, Unreal Engine 5, the latest version of Epic Games’ development engine, is now officially available to everyone.

Nanite, one of Unreal Engine 5's flagship technologies. © Epic Games

Nanite, one of Unreal Engine 5’s flagship technologies. © Epic Games

Gone are the days of promises, declarations of intent and simple technical demos for Unreal Engine 5. Available as early access since May 2021, Epic Games’ next-gen development engine will go live today on April 5, 2022, the official launch phase. So anyone can now download it for free from the Epic Games launcher. Indeed, this version 5 resumes like the economic model that had made the success of the Unreal Engine 4: with the standard license, its use is completely free in the beginning and will remain so as long as the developed game has not reached a million dollars in revenue. Only after this first million does Epic start claiming 5% royalties.

It is therefore without paying a cent that developers like the simple curious can take control of the new technologies incorporated into the engine. There are not only well-known tools such as Nanite (virtualization of geometry), Lumen (global illumination in real time), Temporal Super Resolution (system for scaling the image by temporal injection) or MetaSounds (procedural audio reproduction engine), but also new features integrated into the UE5 on the occasion of this official launch. This is the case, for example, with the Large World Coordinates system, which proposes to store coordinates on double-precision variables to allow the creation of gigantic worlds.

© EpicGames

Still some gaps to fill

This launch does not mean that the Unreal Engine 5 has already reached its final form, far from it. Many developments are expected to resolve some of its limitations. For example, if we know that the Nanite system is particularly adept at managing environments with extremely dense “fixed” geometry, the same is not true for people with many mobile or transparent elements, such as a jungle or forest. It’s no coincidence, then, that the few technical demos published to date have focused solely on rocky and urban landscapes. The same with regard to the demo projects supplied with the engine: City example just resume the city we could have already browsed in the demo The matrix awakenswhile Lyra start game is just a small minimalist environment shooter that aims to show an example of gameplay integration.

Lyra Starter Game, one of the demo projects accessible with the download of Unreal Engine 5. © Epic Games

Lyra start gameone of the demo projects accessible with the download of the Unreal Engine 5. © Epic Games

This gap, like others, will certainly be filled in close collaboration with the many major development studios that have already announced their partnership with Epic Games for the creation of their future titles under Unreal Engine 5. We are thinking in particular of CD Projekt Red, who recently announced that the next installment of the saga The Witcher would be built with the engine† Other titles announced under UE5 include: Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II from Ninja Theory, or STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl from the Ukrainian studio GSC Game World. Finally, it is impossible not to mention Fortnitedeveloped by Epic Games itself, whose current version is already maintained under Unreal Engine 5.

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