Unreal Engine 5 demo is nearly indistinguishable from reality

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,145   +154
Staff member
Recap: In 2015, Epic founder Tim Sweeney predicted that within a decade, it would be hard to tell the difference between virtual reality and the real world. We're only a couple years away from 2025 and judging by what we're seeing from the very early days of UE5, Sweeney's prediction could very well come to fruition.

One of my top talking points when campaigning for a new game console was graphics quality. "It looks so real," I'd profess to my parents regarding the next-gen console I wanted for my birthday or Christmas.

In actuality, those 16-bit games looked nothing like real life. Neither did their 32-bit and 64-bit successors, or anything that has come since. They were all simply the best we had seen up to that point and with a bit of imagination and good storytelling, one could effectively suspend belief and have fun.

Epic's Unreal Engine 5, however, could be a paradigm shift. Have a look at this clip from YouTube user subjectn.

At first glance, it looks to be little more than an empty train station filmed on a smartphone camera. Most won't spot anything out of the ordinary until just over a minute in when day suddenly turns to night and the "videographer" whips out a flashlight.

Incredibly enough, the entire scene was generated using Unreal Engine 5. It is based on a real-life train station in Toyama, Japan, and was lit with Lumen, a fully dynamic real-time global illumination solution. Nanite, the virtualized micro polygon geometry system in UE5, was not utilized in the project.

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m4a4

Posts: 2,895   +3,708
TechSpot Elite
The textures/materials, actually, give it away a bit. You can see that they are a bit odd in a few places.

Otherwise, not bad for a rendered video. The use of VR to control the camera really adds to it...
 

dangh

Posts: 581   +922
This looks really good, even more given this is an generic engine, not a specialised one. And with the direct memory access in modern GPU's and consoles we might be able to get a really visible quality jump in games' graphic. Epic really delivered a solid package, hope there wont be large performance hit for newer titles.
 

Raytrace3D

Posts: 338   +414
Do bear in mind that this is not real-time -- the author rendered/recorded it at 7fps and sped it up. Still, very impressive for 7fps.
Yeah, we're getting very close though to real-time rendering (when you think about it, 7FPS for this quality is pretty amazing!) Maybe with some optimizations and a generation or two more of hardware, pretty much everyone will be able to run this quality graphics in real-time. Pretty exciting stuff!
 

Kosmoz

Posts: 600   +1,110
Do bear in mind that this is not real-time -- the author rendered/recorded it at 7fps and sped it up. Still, very impressive for 7fps.
And here are some more important parts of the FAQ from the author:
FAQ - Is it real time? No, it's a high-res render (around 7 frames per second). I can run it in real time (30-50 fps 1440p for daytime), but image quality is worse. It's not particularly optimized anyway, you could get better performance with a little more work
- Specs? RTX 2080, Ryzen 7 3700x.
Yeah, UE5 is looking better and better for future games.

And this quality will have no issues running real time 60 fps on even lower GPUs with more optimizations, if it can do 30+ fps at 1440p on an RTX 2080 (not even Super), now un-optimized.
 

poohbear

Posts: 690   +620
The textures/materials, actually, give it away a bit. You can see that they are a bit odd in a few places.

Otherwise, not bad for a rendered video. The use of VR to control the camera really adds to it...
lol u have the eyes of a hawk! I mean seriously, it looks real and if video games are like that from 2023 on then photo-realism is here. A 12-core i7 Alder lake CPU and a RTX 4070 would run games with these graphics at at least 30-60fps
 

defaultluser

Posts: 412   +333
It looks anything but "unreal". Very good.

I'm still amazed at the hate from so many when someone announces a game will use UE5 engine. I personally can't wait.

I just got used to waiting on third-parties to be Able to recreate such complex scenes I every title
were still waiting, here!
 

Raytrace3D

Posts: 338   +414
It looks anything but "unreal". Very good.

I'm still amazed at the hate from so many when someone announces a game will use UE5 engine. I personally can't wait.
Yeah, for me, UE5 stands a part from all other game engines in fidelity. I don't know why people hate on it. I wish everything was done in UE5. lol
 

mbk34

Posts: 309   +215
To my eyes it looked real. The video would of been better if it did something by surprise like morph a rubbish bin into a robot (or indeed anything that just couldn't be done in reality). That way it would stop me quietly wondering whether it was an April fools joke. Hat's off to the author in either case.
 

godrilla

Posts: 440   +215
Last year I referenced this exact outlook and said the cryptomining delayed this by a few generations. If things continue downwards for cryptomining then graphics cards that can render games at trailer like graphics can be affordable again although I believe crypto mining profitability will work in cycles. Also Upscaling technology is improving as well allowing current and lower next generation hardware to render ultra realistic graphics. I just wished we had other competitive engines than Unreal engine 5. It seems a lot of developers are dropping there own in house engines for unreal engine 5.0 which is great if we start viewing that as a standard of what nextgen graphics will look like ( not a bad thing) just don't want things to get stagnated from lack of competition.