Epic Games has announced that Unreal Engine 5 is now in Early Access, opening up their next-generation game engine for all developers to start to get to grips with the new technologies found within including Nanite, Lumen, new animation tools, MetaSounds, and more.
You can download Unreal Engine 5 Early Access through the Epic Games launcher, and even snag the Valley of the Ancient demo that was used to reveal the game engine’s power on the PlayStation 5 last year. It’s a pretty demanding demo, so check the system requirements below.
The Valley of the Ancient demo has the following system requirements:
|Recommended System Specs (100% Screen Percentage)||Minimum System Specs (50% Screen Percentage)|
It’s a high intensity demo that really wants to be run from an SSD to rapidly load in the assets needed for Nanite and Virtual Textures. Oh, it’s also 100GB in size.
The highlights of Valley of the Ancient include:
- High-end visuals rendered with Nanite and Lumen.
- A large world crafted with a library of Megascans assets and our new geometry tools.
- Destructible assets created with an improved Chaos fracture workflow.
- New paradigms for organizing level files and actors that make it easier to collaborate with many team members on one map.
- Flexible real-time animation using full-body Inverse Kinematics (IK) and motion warping to fit character motion with gameplay.
- Modular gameplay systems that can be loaded and unloaded in their entirety at runtime.
- Procedural sound effects created using the new MetaSounds system.
- A dynamic music system using Quartz to synchronize gameplay and music.
It’s important to remember that this is a development build and running in the Unreal Engine 5 editor, instead of being an optimised build of a game that scales down its demands to match lower powered hardware. You will still be able to create a PS4 game using Unreal Engine 5, but targeting PS5 or Xbox Series X will ramp up what is possible.
While developers can start using Unreal Engine 5, the engine is far from finished and is not really ready for the vast majority of game developers to enter into full production using it. Epic expect to ship the full release of Unreal Engine 5 in early 2022, with memory, performance and quality improvements in tow, and will ship an Unreal Engine 5 update to Fortnite to demonstrate its readiness.
So why release an Early Access version? Well, it’s still useful for developers to see the effects of switching from UE4 to UE5. You can migrate projects across now using this build and see what works and what doesn’t – Epic does say that you should be able to upgrade seamlessly – and developers can start to prototype with the new technologies. Microsoft studios The Coalition and Ninja Theory have already announced that their next projects are to be built on UE5.