First Look: Unreal Engine 5 on Sony Playstation 5 takes game realism to another level

Just a few months ago, the fifth-generation console was shrouded in baseless rumors and theories. On May 13th, gamers around the world were finally able to see what this sophisticated machine is capable of. 

Epic Games just released a tech demo that shows their new Unreal Engine 5 running in real time on the Playstation 5. Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that this is as massive leap forward compared to current-gen consoles. Crisp, golden light falls from the sky in majestic rays, casting shadows behind even the tiniest pebbles. Rocky surfaces actually look as if they’re made of billions of individual stones… and this actually isn’t too far from the truth. 

Unreal Engine 5 features a new 3-D modeling system called Nanite that allows developers to craft environments made up of billions of individual polygons. This would not be possible on current-gen systems. It might sound like this would create more work for developers as they painstakingly craft each surface down to individual microscopic details. As it turns out, Nanite actually makes this process easier. 

This is because Nanite allows developers to import photogrammetry scans based on real-world photographs. Not only does this streamline the creative process, but it will also result in hyper-realistic gaming experiences. 

unreal engine 5 on sony playstation 5 - rocks

The second focus of the tech demo was Lumen, a stunning new illumination system. Lumen essentially creates a universal, in-game lighting source that reacts instantaneously to changing angles and environments, just like our sun in the real world. 

This illumination system remains consistent whether light rays reach for kilometers or just a few in-game millimeters. This means that these virtual worlds feel more dynamic as lighting changes without missing a beat – whether you’re turning on a flashlight or watching explosions tear chunks out of a wall. 

Unreal Engine 5 on Sony Playstation 5 - army

The aim of the Unreal Engine 5 is the same as it has always been for game developers: increased immersion. While past games might have made you feel like you were stepping into another world, it looks like Playstation 5 games will take this feeling to a completely new level. Epic Games is quick to remind audiences that the Unreal Engine 5 will not be ready when next-gen consoles launch later in 2020, and we’ll first start playing games based on this engine in 2021. 

It’s worth pointing out that this is one of the rare moments we’ve seen the PS5 in action. What makes this even more notable is that Sony wasn’t even really involved in this tech demo. This is about Epic Games showing off their new Unreal Engine, and not Sony showing off their new console. 

This quiet approach has been a trend throughout Sony’s marketing campaign for the PS5 (or lack thereof). In contrast, Microsoft has been going all out to promote the Series X. Microsoft’s promotional efforts have been described as “aggressive,” which makes sense given the fact that Sony has been in the driver’s seat for the entirety of the last console generation. 

Microsoft has no choice but to push ahead, and Sony similarly must be content with a subtle, more confident approach. After all, Microsoft’s budget would blow Sony out of the water if the two engaged in a full-on marketing war. Sony’s CFO says they are content to wait and see what happens when the consoles are released, and in many ways, they have every right to feel self-assured. 

Sony Playstation 5 controller

While Sony has only revealed a few details about their controller, logo, and a stunning new 5.5 GB/s SSD solution, this tech demo has finally given gamers a chance to see what the PS5 is capable of. 

Your move, Microsoft. 

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