Something to look forward to: This week, Epic Games announced the latest milestone before the full release of Unreal Engine 5. Games utilizing the next generation game engine are scheduled to start shipping later this year.
Since Unreal Engine 5 went into early access last year, developers have experimented with and shown off incredible next-gen graphics features like the micro-polygon Nanite system and the real-time global illumination system Lumen. Now that the engine is in preview, Epic Games says it's ready to test all the features intended for the final release.
The game engine isn't production-ready quite yet. Epic warns developers to continue using copies of projects to experiment with the preview's additions. However, it encourages them to test things out and any report issues. Epic also added that Lumen and Nanite aren't suitable for "non-game workflows" yet. So Hollywood is going to have to wait to use it in live-action productions like the Mandalorian.
The preview build promises improvements to Nanite and Lumen, like full hardware ray tracing for the latter. Other improved features include Virtual Shadow Maps, a Path Tracer, World Partition, One File Per Actor, Control Rig, and MetaSounds.
A totally new feature in the preview is Large World Coordinates, making it easier for developers to create larger worlds. Distance Matching and Pose Warping are additions that let a defined set of animations adapt to a broader set of motions. Other new animation features include Anim Blueprint Templates, IK Rig, and IK Retargeter.
So far, Epic's own Fortnite is the only commercial game available that runs on Unreal 5. In December, Epic also released The Matrix Awakens--a tech demo showing off what the upcoming engine could achieve on current generation consoles. Games launching this year on UE5 include Ark II, Redfall, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl. Other games confirmed to be coming to the engine include Black Myth: Wukong, Dragon Quest XII, and ILL.