Today, Epic Games announced Unreal Engine 5, the successor to the wildly popular and successful Unreal Engine 4 game engine.
The new engine will launch alongside next-gen consoles, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5. Along with these powerful gaming machines, Epic’s new engine will help usher in a new age of state-of-the-art graphics in video games.
To illustrate just how powerful this new engine is, Epic released a tech demo running in real time on a PS5. Watch the full presentation in the video below:
This is all in stark contrast to Microsoft’s much-hyped, and rather disappointing, third-party game showcase from about a week ago. Microsoft revealed a bunch of new games and showed off parts of games we’d already heard of, but it did absolutely nothing to hype next-gen.
For one thing, these were all third-party games, so they’re all almost certainly launching on other systems as well. But the really big miss was the fact that nothing on display really felt “next-gen” at all. None of the games Microsoft showed off looked any better than stuff we’re already playing now. Some looked worse.
Sony didn’t fall into the same trap. They haven’t really showed off games at all yet, so the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo is the only thing we’ve seen running on a PS5 so far, and it’s staggeringly gorgeous, far beyond anything we have on modern consoles today.
Sure, it’s not a game. Games probably won’t look like this anytime soon (though I have faith in Sony’s first-party talent—I can definitely see Naughty Dog making a game that looks this good for PS5). None of that matters. From a marketing perspective, we’ve now seen some truly jaw-dropping graphics running on a PS5 and only very lackluster graphics on Xbox Series X.
Clearly that’s not a fair comparison, but marketing isn’t supposed to be fair. It’s about selling your console. This gets people excited about what to expect on the PS5 even if it’s just a tech demo, even if games don’t look like this for a few more years.
In the meantime, maybe some enterprising developer can turn this tech demo into a real game, or something like it? I would very much like to play a fantasy Tomb Raider game replete with magic and monsters and, most importantly, flying.
Flying where you don’t constantly overheat, turning a really fun game mechanic into a chore.