• Epic Games’ latest release helps teams work on the same region of their World without interfering with others’ work.
  • Lumen, a global illumination solution, helps users make on the fly to changes to direct lighting or geometry

With this new release, Epic Games aims to empower both large and small teams to push the boundaries of what’s possible, visually and interactively. Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) will enable users to realize next-generation real-time 3D content and experiences with greater freedom, fidelity, and flexibility than before.

One of Epic Games’ ongoing goals is to make the creation of Open Worlds faster, easier, and more collaborative for teams of all sizes. With Unreal Engine 5, a new World Partition system changes how levels are managed and streamed, automatically dividing the world into a grid and streaming the necessary cells.

Team members can now also simultaneously work on the same region of the same World without treading on each other’s toes, thanks to a new One File Per Actor (OFPA) system, while with Data Layers, users can create different variations of the same world—such as daytime and nighttime versions, or intact and broken geometry—as layers that exist in the same space.

Unreal Engine 5 introduces a collection of features for rendering real-time worlds in high-fidelity detail.

Lumen is a dynamic global illumination solution that enables users to create believable scenes where indirect lighting adapts on the fly to changes to direct lighting or geometry—for example, changing the sun’s angle with the time of day, turning on a flashlight, or opening an exterior door. With Lumen, users no longer have to author lightmap UVs, wait for lightmaps to bake, or place reflection captures; they can create and edit lights inside the Unreal Editor and see the same final lighting their players will see when the game or experience is run on the target platform.

UE5’s new virtualized micropolygon geometry system, Nanite, gives users the ability to create games and experiences with geometric detail. Users can directly import film-quality source art comprised of millions of polygons—anything from ZBrush sculpts to photogrammetry scans—and place them millions of times, all while maintaining a real-time frame rate, and without any noticeable loss of fidelity.

Specifically designed to work well with Lumen and Nanite, Virtual Shadow Maps (VSMs) provide plausible soft shadows with reasonable, controllable performance costs. Nanite and VSMs intelligently stream and process only the detail users can perceive, largely removing poly count and draw call constraints, and eliminating time-consuming work like baking details to normal maps and manually authoring LODs.

Although some new features like Lumen and Nanite have not yet been validated for non-games workflows (this is an ongoing goal for future releases), all creators will be able to continue using workflows supported in UE 4.27. But they’ll also benefit from a redesigned Unreal Editor, better performance, artist-friendly animation tools, an extended mesh creation and editing toolset, improved path tracing, and much more features.

The new features and workflows have been production-proven for game development in Fortnite and The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience demo.