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Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 5 to the public

Something to look forward to: After nearly a year in early access and around a month in preview, Unreal Engine 5 has reached full release. All developers can now start downloading and using Epic’s next-gen game engine. It comes with two free sample projects showing its abilities. Alongside the announcement, multiple prominent developers discussed their plans for working on the platform.

Since Epic first unveiled UE5 in 2020, it has chiefly been noted for features like the Lumen real-time global illumination system and Nanite micro-polygons. This week, the company announced these features, and others are now ready. However, they still aren’t sufficient for non-gaming applications like film and TV productions.

One sample project Epic released alongside UE5 is City Sample, which lets users examine and explore an environment Epic built for The Matrix Awakens — the free UE5 demo released for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles last year. It’s the first time this project has been made available to the public on PC. The other sample is Lyra Starter Game — a starting point and educational resource for building shooters, which Epic intends to upgrade over time.

Accompanying Epic’s announcement, Gears 5 developer The Coalition showcased a new UE5 tech demo running on Xbox Series X titled The Cavern (above). The sample renders tens of millions of polygons for what the developer says is a 100-fold increase in detail (presumably compared to Gears 5).

Last month, CD Projekt Red revealed that the next Witcher game would run on UE5 instead of its in-house engine, used for The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. Art Director Jakub Knapik explained The primary advantage of UE5 is the knowledge CDPR can pull from other developers who are also working with it. Hiring people experienced with Unreal will also likely be more manageable than teaching personnel how to use in-house tech.

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This week, Crystal Dynamics also revealed that it’s building the next Tomb Raider title on UE5. Other upcoming games using the engine include Stalker 2, Black Myth: Wukong, Dragon Quest XII, and Ark II.

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