Unreal Engine 5 Preview Released

Unreal Engine 5 preview is here! As detailed in a Epic Games PostThe highly anticipated new release of the company’s real-time content creation toolset is heading towards its final release, and users are now encouraged to access and test the software at their leisure!

Since releasing early access last year, the Unreal Engine group has created its tech demo Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience with the code. fortnite is now also based on Unreal Engine 5, as part of the company’s efforts to make Unreal Engine 5 more production-ready, stable, and optimized.

As the company moves towards the final release, it is looking for the EU user community to experiment with the new tools and workflows, and help test and debug the software. Along with many improvements to previously exposed tools such as Nanite, Lumen, One File Per Actor, World Partition, and MetaSounds, users will find exciting new animation tools, basic support for large world coordinates, and more. again.

The company pointed out that pre-release builds will still have instabilities and other issues, and shouldn’t be used for production. It is suggested that users make a copy of existing projects if they wish to use them to experiment with new tools and workflows.

Unreal Engine 5 Early Access focused on exposing new features for next-gen game development. With this Preview version, creators from all industries are welcome to try it out. In announcing the release of the UE5 preview, the company noted a caveat: while users should be able to work in UE5 the same way they did in UE4, with existing workflows supported load, some of the major new features like Lumen and Nanite have yet to be validated with non-gaming workflows.

What’s new since UE5 Early Access?

While the full list of new features and improvements is long, here are some highlights:

Rendering

Nanite

Nanite is UE5’s new virtualized geometry system that allows you to create games and worlds with massive amounts of geometric detail.

  • In this release, many improvements have been made to stability, quality, performance, and tools, including:
  • Improved Nanite streaming performance and memory usage in the editor
  • New error-based metric for creating Fallback Mesh (formerly called Proxy Mesh)
  • UX to batch convert assets to or from Nanite and perform data slicing to disk
  • Support for all display modes and usage indicators, e.g. Shader Complexity display mode
  • Selection by instance
  • Custom data per instance/actor

Lumen

Lumen is UE5’s new global fully dynamic lighting and reflections system, designed for next-gen consoles.

Since the release of Early Access, many improvements have been made to stability, quality, and performance, including:

  • Full support for hardware ray tracing, which does not require distance fields or any other software tracing, and scales to large worlds
  • Improved Final Gather quality, especially noticeable on foliage
  • Brilliant reflections on translucency
  • Translucency Final Gather, which improves overall lighting quality on translucency
  • Landscape support

Virtual Shadow Maps

This new shadow mapping method provides consistent, high-resolution shading. Virtual Shadow Maps are specifically designed to work well with highly detailed cinematic quality Nanite assets and large dynamically lit open worlds.

  • Improvements in this release include:
  • Overall stability and performance improvements
  • Improved handling of shadow invalidation due to moving/deforming meshes
  • Support for more non-Nanite mesh types
  • Support for multiple material types for foliage (double-sided, sub-surface)

path tracer

Introduced in Unreal Engine 4.27, the Path Tracer is a DXR-accelerated and physically accurate progressive rendering mode that requires no additional setup, allowing you to produce offline render-quality images directly from Unreal Engine.

Preview 1 offers improvements in stability, performance, and feature completeness, including:

  • Primitive Hair Support
  • Eye shader model support
  • Improvements to sampling, BRDF models, lightweight transport, supported geometries, and more.

world building

Partition of the world

World Partition is a distance-based streaming solution. It greatly simplifies the process of creating a large world by changing the way levels are handled and broadcast, automatically splitting the world into a grid, and broadcasting the necessary cells.

Since Early Access, many improvements have been made in terms of stability, performance, and feature completeness, including:

  • Landscape support
  • Sequencer support
  • New forms of streaming source
  • VT support in Minimap
  • Hierarchical support in data layers and a new UX

Animation

Control platform

Control Rig allows you to create custom controls on your imported skeletal mesh; using them, you can generate new animations or edit existing ones in the Unreal Editor.

This release offers massive performance improvements and many new features, including:

  • Graph debugging tools that let you easily find and fix problems
  • Dynamic hierarchy and space switching, allowing you to attach platform controls together
  • Spline tools for manipulating curves in Control Rig
  • The ability to create functions that can be shared between control platforms

NEW! Distance matching and pose warping

New in Preview 1, these two features combine to allow a small set of animations to work with a wide range of motion.

  • Distance matching controls the playback speed of an animation so that it matches the movement of the character in-game.
  • Pose Warping dynamically adjusts the pose of the animation to better match character movement in-game.

NEW! Animation Plan Templates

This new feature allows you to create reusable animation graphics, as well as allowing engine functionality to be delivered as animation graphic assets. With it, you can create animation blueprint logic that is not tied to specific skeletons or assets. These assets cannot reference animation assets directly, but can be reused in the context of other animation blueprints.

NEW! IK Rig and IK Retargeter

These two new features make it easier and more efficient to animate skeletal characters in the Unreal Editor.

IK Rig allows you to interactively create solvers and rigs that perform pose editing for your skeletal meshes. A common use case is to adjust a character additively while maintaining existing animation, such as a moving character looking at a target.

IK Retargeter allows you to quickly and robustly transfer animations between characters of different proportions on different skeletons. Retargeting can be done either at runtime or for offline creation of new animation assets.

For the full list of features, visit the Unreal Engine website.

Source: Epic Games

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Dan Sarto is the publisher and editor of Animation World Network.

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