Unreal Engine 5 is set for an early 2022 release

New features in Epics unreal engine 5 look incredible
(Image credit: Epic)

On the Unreal Engine 5 welcome stream today, Chance Ivey and Galen Davis of Epic Games treated us to a more in-depth look at UE5, which the company has announced is releasing early 2022, with early access available right now.

According to Epic, and many pages of documentation, UE5 is jam-packed with new features and workflows for game designers, developers and artists. Some new features include:

  • The Nanite geometry system, to help devs dump the time consuming processes of baking, and LOD mapping.
  • Lumen, for fully dynamic, in-engine lighting that'll negate the need to bake lightmaps and use reflection captures.
  • World Partition, which will automatically divide the games map into a grid for easy selection and streaming of portions for editing.
  • The One File Per Actor system, for simpler collaborative workflows.
  • Data Layers, which gives devs the ability to create different variations of the same world as layers.
  • A whole host of incredible animation tools like Control Rig, the Full-Body IK solver and Pose Browser, as well as Motion Warping.

While I'm here getting nostalgic over game development, and ready to get stuck into some early access worldbuilding fun, many of you might be wondering what this means for the future of games.

Virtual reality

(Image credit: Valve)

Best VR headset: which kit should you choose?
Best graphics card: you need serious GPU power for VR
Best gaming laptop: don't get tied to your desktop in VR

This is the birth of a new generation of game engine, the successor to one of the most popular today, Unreal Engine 4. It looks like it's set to make game design workflows more integrated, collaborative, user friendly and much, much faster. We'll hold them to that when the time comes.

For more details, you can head over to the Unreal Blog, or for an even more in-depth look, here's the Early Access documentation.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.