Unreal Engine 5 is officially released

Two years after Epic Games revealed Unreal Engine 5 with a great tech demo, the next generation game engine is officially available. It was released alongside the playable shooter, Lyra.

Unreal Engine 5 is the latest release from Epic in a series of game engines available to game developers big and small. While the release of the new game engine isn’t much news for people to start playing video games with, Epic has first revealed the Unreal Engine 5 with a massive tech demo.

The technology demo, called Lumen in the Land of Nanite, was made to show two of the cool features of the Unreal Engine 5. Lumen is a dynamic lighting tool where light adapts to the world naturally and easily.

Meanwhile, Nanite allows developers to import movie-quality visual assets into the game while maintaining a real-time frame rate and without resolution drop.

Unreal Engine 5 – Official Release Images

While the tech demos are a nice early glimpse into the capability of the new engine, Lumen in the Land of Nanite has shared an early look at the power of next-generation consoles and made its heroine, Lumen, popular enough to host Fortnite.

Since then, Epic has offered many other features designed to simplify the process of creating highly detailed games. One particular genre that Epic Games strives to improve is open world games. Unreal Engine 5’s developments in this genre can be seen live through The Matrix Awakens, an open world experience built in Unreal Engine 5.

Unreal Engine 5 will continue to evolve

Developers known for open-world games are already lining up, with CD Projekt Red recently announcing that the next Witcher game will be developed on Unreal Engine 5. According to Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri, the relationship between Epic and developers means that if CDPR discovers areas for improvement for Unreal Engine 5, It can find its way back to Epic and be used by other developers.

“We’ll learn a lot about how to take open-world games to the next level,” says Libreri. “I’m sure the entire community will benefit from this relationship.”

This exchange between developers and Unreal Engine 5 has already been used. Libreri says that The Coalition, another AAA studio that has announced it is working with UE5 for its next game, has already added contributions and improvements to UE5 implemented in the Matrix Awakens.

“It makes us very proud. The Alliance has a special place in our hearts when it comes to UE5. They have actually added functionality to the engine we brought back to the engine,” says Libreri.

This includes high-level lighting technologies that were previously only available on high-end PCs that, thanks to the alliance, could run on modern consoles in a cost-effective manner, as well as optimization technologies that allow things like The Matrix Awakens to run on power consoles as low as the Xbox Series S.

“Because there’s such a great community, we love the idea that a great developer – no matter how big or small – if they have a great idea that makes the workflow better, the visuals better, then the gameplay is really next-gen take those things back.”

Credit: Epic Games

Credit: Epic Games

New sample shooter: Lyra

To help developers get started, Epic Games has released several sample projects for free that are available to play with, tinker with, and iterate on.

First, there’s Lyra, the now playable shooter. But more than that, for developers considering building a shooter on Unreal Engine 5, Lyra is customizable and a solid foundation for your next project.

There’s also City Sample, which is the full city, buildings, vehicles, and crowds from The Matrix Awakens. This project template is perfect for anyone looking to see how far they can take on their open world game project.

Credit: Epic Games

Credit: Epic Games

Several developers are already working with Unreal Engine 5. CD Projekt Red, The Coalition, and Epic Games are all working on developing games on the new engine, some of which were teased during the current State of Unreal presentation.

Check out the full presentation of all the details about Unreal Engine 5 from our Unreal Current Status View.

Matt TM Kim is the IGN News Editor. You can reach it Tweet embed.