In brief: A few months back, Epic assembled a small team of developers to see what they could come up with using the latest version of Unreal Engine 5. The end result was a new practical sample project called "Valley of the Ancient" and it's being shown publicly now for the first time.
It was just over one year ago when Epic Games unveiled its next-generation game engine, Unreal Engine 5. The team showcased its possibilities through a tech demo called "Lumen in the Land of Nanite," and have continued to refine the engine ever since.
The foundation of Unreal Engine 5 consists of two key technologies. Nanite is a virtualized micro polygon geometry system that lets artists create as much detail as the eye can see, without compromising speed. "Nanite let the artist create while the engine does the work," said Galen Davis, producer and evangelist for Quixel at Epic Games.
A new anti-aliasing solution called Temporal Super Resolution is tasked with keeping up with all of the new geometric detail. According to Epic, it is able to do so with quality approaching native 4K at the cost of 1080p.
Lumen, meanwhile, is a fully dynamic real-time global illumination solution that reacts to scene and light change. When working in tandem, Nanite and Lumen can create highly impressive photorealistic environments that could truly take gaming leaps and bounds beyond where it is today.
This only scratches the surface of what's possible in Unreal Engine 5. For a deeper dive, be sure to check out the full video. And if you'd rather jump right in and get your hands dirty, Unreal Engine 5 is now available in early access.