“All” of the Unreal Engine 5 technology demonstrated in this week’s stunning reveal will be able to work with high end PC VR, according to Epic CEO Tim Sweeney.
The statement was made in an interview with tech outlet CNET:
“Certainly, all the technology we’re demonstrating will be able to run on the high end PC-based VR systems, which means a new generation of graphical fidelity, particularly in geometry. I don’t have anything specific to announce for VR here, but I think it’s going to create a really interesting march towards photorealism … and as you see devices improve their resolution and other system parameters it’s going to be very interesting.”
Unreal Engine 5 is a radical new approach to how games are made and rendered. It was revealed on Wednesday in a stunning showcase.
In current game engines, artists import reduced detail versions of the original assets they create. When you move far enough away from those assets, an even lower detail version is used instead. This is called LODs (Level of Details).
UE5’s new ‘Nanite’ geometry system upends this approach. Artists import the full movie-quality assets. The geometric detail is scaled in real time. This means virtual objects will look incredibly detailed up close, and won’t “pop in” or “pop out” as you move away from them.
The new ‘Lumen’ lighting engine provides full real time global illumination. This means the lighting is no longer “baked”, and light sources can move around the virtual world in real time, with the same level of impact to the environment as pre-baked static lights.
But what about mobile-powered VR headsets like Oculus Quest?
According to Epic CTO Kim Libreri, UE5 supports lower powered platforms like Android and iOS through “scalability paths to down-resolution your content to run on everything”. That sounds like the engine will reduce the quality of the assets before compiling.
“What it means for mobile VR running on a mobile chipset, that’s going to be the same sort of answer … as getting Nanite content to work on a phone” – Epic’s CTO
Given that the Quest has just 64GB or 128GB (there are two storage models) available, asset reduction seems like it would be required alway.
So while high end PC VR experiences may leverage the huge advancements in Unreal Engine 5, don’t expect it to have much impact on Quest.