This morning was the opening ceremonies for Summer Game Fest: a months-long celebration of the video game industry. Organized by Geoff Keighley (executive producer and host of The Game Awards), Summer Game Fest plans to digitally distribute and share news, events, and playable content for video games from May through August 2020. The experience started off strong with a new PlayStation 5 gameplay demo created by Epic Games, showcasing the PS5’s capabilities in real-time.

Summer Game Fest: The Unreal Engine 5 demo showcases what next-generation graphics and computer physics can achieve.

A technical demo with a show-stopping ending showed what Unreal Engine 5 and PlayStation 5 can achieve beyond this generations pre-rendered solutions.

 

The demo is less of a game “coming soon” or “in development” than a way to showcase the capabilities of both the PS5’s hardware and Unreal Engine 5’s capabilities. As revealed in the demo, “Lumen in the Land of Nanite”, Unreal 5 can display millions of polygons at once in a single object or character, using Unreal 5’s “Nanite” feature. That means that there’s potentially *billions* of polys in every frame of the demo! What does that mean for gaming? It means cinematic-level detail down to the size of a *pixel*. Of course, most gamers won’t be able to *see* this fully-realized yet, as even the best 4K resolution screens can only show about 8.3 million pixels.

Summer Game Fest: A demonstration of Nanite's polygon count and detail

Unreal Engine 5’s Nanite achieves cinematic-level 8K detail down to the pixel, as demonstrated here with each triangle a different color.

 

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Unreal 5’s “Lumen” feature allows for fully dynamic lighting, though the team never explicitly states if this includes ray tracing. Nevertheless, “dynamic lighting” are the two sexiest words for most game designers, who often have to bake their levels. “Baking” is when lightmaps (pre-rendered lighting) is placed throughout the game. Imagine spending days having to hand-place how the sun hits a rock-face…and that’s just how the sun hits it at noon! Lumen promises a lighting system that allows developers to instantly change the light direction and how the light bounces off the environment. With Nanite’s pixel-accurate shadows, it’s a very convincing effect.

A demonstration of Unreal Engine 5s Lumen feature demonstrates on how light can be moved around the in-game world without affecting environmental effects like shadows.

The Lumen feature of Unreal Engine 5 eliminates one of the greatest hurdles to high-fidelity visuals with a lighting system that is more versatile and realistic that current pre-renderings.

 

The Tomb Raider-esque player-character makes their way through caves of craggy rocks and dramatically sunlit chambers, eventually coming to a cliff and a valley that stretches all the way to the horizon. The player leaps off the cliff and begins a genuinely stunning flight sequence. As the player flies to the portal off in the distance, she dodges past and through crumbling buildings. Finally arriving at the portal, she enters through and the demo ends.

A demonstration of how far Unreal Engine 5 can render objects and environments in real-time.

The demo has the player fly through an interact with a complex series of buildings rendered in real-time, all while maintaining the same level of detail.

 

That’s when it hits the audience: this was not a pre-rendered cinematic. This is real-time. Through the combination of PS5’s onboard AMD graphics card and Unreal 5‘s texturing and details, the player just flew through objects that were being rendered in real-time…including the portal off in the distance. Such a vast environment would have needed to have been pre-rendered a mere generation ago in 2012/2013. Though the demo only runs at 30 FPS, both PS5 and Unreal 5 seem to be promising a “if you see it, you can go there” mentality to gamers.

What do you think? Does the ninth-generation of video games look literally bright? Or are you waiting to see what the Xbox Series X has in store? Fly on over to Geek Girl Authority for more news about the PS5 and all your most-anticipated games! Summer Game Fest is going all summer-long, and you can bet that GGA will have all the latest news in video games!

Demo Trailer:

Tyler Boyce
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