Gears 5 developer The Coalition has created a new demo of Unreal Engine 5 technology optimized for the Xbox Series X. The short "Alpha Point" video was shown during a GDC talk and has not yet been released publicly. but there is a screenshot at the top. Once again it goes by the theme of the crumbling ruins. I miss the science fiction technology demonstrations of the 2010s, but UE5 does represent some beautiful rocks.
The demonstration is very short: the ruins, the floating diamond, is over. I'll include it in this article every time it hangs somewhere, or if no one gets there, I'll do it from the GDC conversation, but for now I'm trying to avoid compressing an already compressed stream just to show it for a few seconds . As you can see in the frame I took below, it doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t know, but it contains beautiful rocks.
During the GDC talk, where the show debuted, Coalition technical director Kate Rayner said Unreal Engine 5 game development is still "very early", but that this show was a good opportunity for the Microsoft's proprietary studio to "hit the tires" and collaborate on Epic on Xbox optimization.
Alpha Point was originally made with Unreal Engine 4, where it was released to the publisher, then moved to UE5 and completed. According to Coalition Art Technical Director Colin Penty, most of the show's assets consist of 300,000 to 500,000 triangles, 15 times the number of triangles in the average asset of Gears 5, a game that came out in 2019. The study also worked with assets of millions of triangles, Penty said, but some parts of the development process become “too painful” with such large assets. Penty also noted some of the limitations of the Geometry of nanites technology used for ultra-complex assets. Currently, for example, it is not translucent, so most of the foliage in the demo does not use it.
Although they can be illuminated dynamically with the UE5 Lumen system, it seems clear that now nanite-fed rocks are quite static, perhaps that is why we continue to see rocks. In a Nanite overview video, Epic said the technology currently does not support non-rigid deformations and global positioning, a feature of Unreal Engine that is used for environmental animations such as lawn rocking.
For now, the capabilities of the UE5 ironically recall the unrealistic claims of the old 3D rendering demonstrations of “unlimited detail” that used to appear on YouTube from time to time. I spoke with Epic CEO Tim Sweeney in 2016. Among other things, he was confident at the time that in 2036 "we will have the representation of physical objects so perfected that you will find it very difficult to distinguish these objects from reality."
It seems like a pretty sure prediction at the levels of detail we’re seeing now. Penty also showed a brief demonstration of UE5 character rendering, highlighting the ridiculously high number of hairs in charge of Unreal Engine’s Groom system.
"I was thinking of a funny statistic, with the 3,500 triangle tabs: that's the kind of budget for an entire Xbox 360 character, which is now within the tabs of one of those characters," he said. dir Penty.
He concluded by saying that he believes UE5 games will look “amazing” on Xbox Series X / S consoles.
I guess it’s hard to blame The Coalition, a Microsoft studio, for the focus of the console here. Although supposedly thought to be only internal, at first Alpha Point is in a way Microsoft's response to the first demo of Unreal Engine 5, which was made for PlayStation 5. For better or worse, the latest PlayStation and Xbox still set standards for main rendering power.
For comparison to your specs, Alpha Point runs at 46 fps on an Xbox Series X with a 4K screen resolution. I say there is a display resolution because the actual rendering resolution was set to 50% or more and increased to 4K using Epic Super Temporal Resolution. Therefore, you might get a 46 fps rendering at 1440p (but not 4K) with PC hardware that is comparable to an Xbox Series X. Or you can also use Super Temporary Resolution, or possibly DLSS, or another upscaler.
Like Nvidia's DLSS technology, Temporal Super Resolution tries to increase the resolution of an image without loss of quality. This means that a game can be rendered in 1080p and then augmented to 4K, although luckily it seems to belong to it, because even high-end graphics cards have a hard time rendering some scenes directly in 4K. Penty said UE5’s TSR scaling provides “amazing results” when it goes from 1080p to 4K.
As for The Coalition’s upcoming game, whatever it is, you can explore the tech demo to get clues when it’s available to watch, but Penty said Alpha Point’s assets were made by Alpha Point and didn’t come from of a game project, and that Coalition does not announce any game to GDC. So it’s really just some rocks, I’m afraid.
Unreal Engine 5 is currently in early access. The engine and development kit are free to use, although if you post a commercial Unreal Engine game, a 5% royalty will be applied after gross revenue of $ 1 million.