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Unreal Engine 5 will arrive in 2021.

Today, via Summer Game Fest, Geoff Keighley and Epic Games gave us our first look at PS5 gameplay. The gameplay was from an Epic-created tech demo, though, so maybe “demoplay” is the appropriate term.

In any case, following the demo, Epic Games’ CTO Kim Libreri, Vice President of Engineering Nick Penwarden and CEO Tim Sweeney joined Keighley for a livestream breakdown.

“This really is a generational leap, or more, in technological capabilities,” Sweeney said of PlayStation 5.

“The hardware that Sony is launching is absolutely phenomenal. Not only an unprecedented amount of graphics power but also, a completely unique storage architecture that blows past architectures out of the water, and is far ahead of even the state of the art in the highest-end PCs you can buy.”

Much of the talk came down to nanite — which refers to a micropolygon modeling scheme — and lumin — a real-time global illumination system. We aren’t sure exactly what much of that means! But Digital Foundry provided a helpful, in-depth breakdown if you’re interested in the specifics.

The TL;DR of it all, though, is that Epic is making technology that will make the process of creating games easier.

Unreal Engine 5: What will it mean for developers?

“With Unreal Engine 5, we set out to build a new generation of technology that empowers creators to create photo-realistic scenes that are indistinguishable from reality,” Sweeney said, “and to do so with a very high degree of productivity.”

This will have ramifications for fans of Epic’s creative output, too. During the stream, Sweeney confirmed that Fortnite would transition to Unreal Engine 5 next year. Epic has consistently shown its ability to quickly make sweeping changes in Fortnite’s world. That’s an ability that almost certainly derives from the company’s thorough knowledge of its engine. If Unreal Engine 5 allows for significantly faster iteration, Epic’s approach to their popular live service game will likely change.

That said, it remains to be seen whether the ability to make games more easily will have any impact on crunch culture. New technologies have historically resulted in the reallocation of work, not its eradication. For example, a microwave allows you to prepare dinner in minutes. But, that opens up extra time to work on something else. Ease-of-use doesn’t guarantee good time management. We’ll have to wait and see if better technology will mean better work-life balance for the people who create the entertainment we enjoy.

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