In the early days, video game technology advanced in stunning leaps and bounds, from a few pixels through countless pixels to polygons to what they use in The Last of Us Part 2. Given that games achieve the level of visual fidelity they now achieve, it’s hard to be impressed by mere “realism”. It was said not impossiblebecause I spent the last 15 minutes staring at YouTube at a video of an empty train station that I would have sworn was real, if no one had told me it was an Unreal Engine 5 demo.
The footage comes from 3D environment artist Lorenzo Draga, who replicated Toyoma, a Japanese Etchū-Daimon station in Unreal Engine 5, with the stated goal of getting as close as possible to photorealism. Improving the effect is a virtual camera that scrolls like a smartphone, vertical orientation and everything else.
The result is incredibly effective. The sound of crickets and announcements from the station’s speakers enhance immersion as light bounces off the damp concrete with outstanding detail. The only thing that feels off is a lamp effect used to display a night scene. It just looks like a video game flashlight, awkwardly centered and especially erupting out of nowhere.
While this isn’t necessarily an indication of what games will look like in Unreal Engine 5 – showing people and their interactions with inanimate objects is a whole other ball game – it is a technology that runs a bunch of big upcoming games and it’s exciting to see developers toying with it to see what it’s capable of – from a Matrix simulation to a very cool PlayStation 5 demo.
As for high-budget games made with Unreal Engine 5, you can look forward to the following titles Tomb Raider and Witcher, for starters.