Gears of War series developer The Coalition has released their first tech demo built using Unreal Engine 5 Early Access, showcasing what Epic Games’ new game engine can achieve on the Xbox Series X|S console hardware.
While nowhere near as length as Epic’s own demos, which were demoed and made publicly available over the last year, The Coalition are widely regarded as absolute masters of Unreal Engine 4, which they used to push the boundaries of what the Xbox One generation consoles could do. The Alpha Point tech test features all real-time lighting and reflections, with the environment featuring over 100 million polygons.
The Coalition tweeted to explain that it’s “An insight into what’s possible with [Unreal Engine 5], from its next-gen features such as Nanite, which allows for unlimited triangle budget, and Lumen, which allows real-time lighting with none of the traditional overheard tasks.”
As part of their GDC 2021 showcase, they also shared a real-time character rendering test, with the character they created featuring over 160,000 polygons, the face alone using 31,000 polygons and with a ‘Groom’ length of 3.5mm for his beardy old face.
This is just their first pass at discovering what the game engine can do, but it’s an interesting insight into how capable the game engine is, as our first real look at it being used by a studio other than Epic Games.
Here’s the full presentation for you to watch as well, featuring Kate Rayner, Studio Technical Director and Colin Penty, Technical Art Director. They dive really deep into each of the visual effects, the creative choices made and how they were shaped by the technical elements they discovered and worked around.
Skipping to the juicy bit, the performance, this tech demo ran at an average frame rate of 46FPS on Xbox Series X with the game engine having all of the new bells and whistles turned on, while targeting 60fps with a 50% or higher input resolution and Temporal Super Resolution up to 4K. Xbox Series S, meanwhile needs more optimisation for the GPU, which Epic is working on, with The Coalition expecting to target either 1080p or 1440p at 60FPS depending on this.
The Coalition recently announced that they were moving on from supporting Gears 5 – which first released for Xbox One and Xbox One X, but was updated at launch on Xbox Series X|S to increase fidelity, add support for 120Hz and more. With Unreal Engine 5’s Early Access release, The Coalition announced in May that they would be kicking off production on “multiple new projects”, though it’s not clear whether these will be Gears of War related or brand new IP.
It’s also worth noting that the above tech demos are not necessarily indicative of what the studio is working on. The Alpha Point demo has some notable similarities to the dusty desert-like theme of Epic’s Valley of the Ancients demo, while the character is a fairly standard looking guy in some Gears of War-esque armour. These tech demos are an important stage of The Coalition’s pre-production, as they get to grips with what UE5 is capable of and blend that together with the game concepts they can come up with.