If you’ve kept up with the headlines about Epic’s development on the next major iteration of its Unreal Engine, you’ll know there are some impressive new things on the way. The next generation of Unreal Engine will support technologies like Nanite, Lumen, and Niagara just to name a few. In short, these features allow game developers to increase the level of detail and realism in 3D environments with new levels of efficiency. Together, the technologies yield scenes ever-closer to reality. And while Unreal Engine 5 isn’t due for release until 2022, developers have been able to play around with early builds to get familiar with what’s now possible. While we’re still a ways out from seeing games built in Unreal Engine 5, you can play the Market of Light tech demo today via Steam.
The Market of Light demo was created by Japanese developer historia Inc, which is best known for The Caligula Effect games. As an effort to get familiar with Epic Games’ new tech, it created this demo using an early build of the new engine to see how far it could push 3D scenes. As you can see for yourself, the results are incredible. However, you need a pretty hefty graphics card in order to meet the minimum specs. Nothing shy of a GTX 1070 will do. However, you’ll see that the visual payoff is huge. Unreal Engine 5 allows graphics to achieve new highs that were previously impossible with older techniques. While many are caught up in the rush to get better hardware, it’s also important to remember that better software is just as important for improving graphics in video games.
A glimpse into the future of gaming
The Market of Light demo isn’t small, so be prepared to facilitate just over 23 GB of space on your hard drive if you want to download it. This is more or less the first chance gamers have to see Unreal Engine 5 technologies running on their own rigs. At least, as something created by a professional developer for audiences to play.
The demo itself is pretty short. You’ll fly around a small marketplace as a firefly and experience different effects and lighting scenarios. Here’s an idea of what you should be paying attention to. Nanite provides an insane polygon density for objects, Lumen offers dynamic lighting, and Niagara powers the fancy visual effects. The developer description notes that the demo contains 4.9 billion polygons, 253 8K textures, and 1,065 4K textures. That’s a lot of guacamole to call holy. Pun intended.
If you like what you see, you can check out some more tech demos powered by Unreal Engine 5. Epic collaborated with Sony to show off the first demo with the engine running on a PlayStation 5. The Gears of War developer also created a short demonstration called Alpha Point, which focuses on more lighting and effects.