Unreal Engine 5 – What Could It Mean For Simracing?

It might have slipped under your radar, but yes, Epic Games have released tech demo footage from the latest iteration of their Unreal Engine, and it looks awesome.

Set in an ancient cave/complex of ruins, it shows the protagonist exploring the area in search of a way to activate a multi-dimensional portal. Running ‘live’ (while the footage was being recorded) on a PlayStation 5 prototype, it proved that the future of gaming, and in our case simracing, looks very bright indeed.

The Demo served as a demonstration of numerous new features that the engine implements. While in general, all of them might provide some interesting possibilities for racing sims, surely some look particularly promising for the next generation of driving titles. Let us take a look at them in order.



Nanite

Nanite is the first of the new technologies showed. Thanks to Nanite, UE5 will be able to support polygons made of millions of triangles each, displaying 8K textures thanks to Virtual Streaming. What this means, is Film-standard visual quality available now for games, which can be run on domestic computers and not be restricted to dedicated workstations as it has been until now. Shadows too will be pixel precise, and Aliasing will most likely be a thing of the past. Every frame will be able to handle billions of triangles, all crunched up by the engine seamlessly at once. What does it mean for us, simracers? Well in one of the rooms showed in the Demo, there was a statue, made of 33 million triangles! Imported straight away from ZBrush, it had no baking of normal maps, no LODs. The next room had almost 500 hundred of the same statues all together, reaching 60 billion triangles from statues alone in the scene. One of the key aspect of UE5 in fact, is optimization. Epic Games wanted developers and content creators not have to worry anymore about polycount, draw calls and memory. Creating and importing a model had to be as simple as possible, that was the key factor in developing the new engine. Therefore this could translate, in our specific case, like for example a driving sim, powered by UE5, supporting mods, into modders being able to make their favourite cars without worrying too much about the number of polygons and LODs anymore. Photogrammetry will be much easier to work with too, which also means more detailed and precise models. The work of creators and developers as well of course, will be definitely easier and faster, while achieving far better results than it is possible now.

UE5_hall.jpg


Lumen

Lumen is the second new technology showed in the Demo. Thanks to it, it will be possible to achieve fully dynamic, realistic lighting, with properly correct bouncing over surface materials and shadow projection. Every light source will directly trigger a reaction in the ambient around it, without any need of extra work. It can handle scenes ranging in dimension from millimetres to kilometres. For us simracers it could mean photorealistic lighting, 24h cycle, without a substantial hit on hardware.

UE5_cave.jpg


Niagara

Niagara will work in correlation with the various parts of UE5 to handle particle communication. The swarm of bats flying in a scene of the Demo for example, are interacting with one another at all times, knowing where to go and keeping proper distance between them, startled by the player's entering in the scene. Particles and animated objects will in fact react to light, physics and sound based events, producing an active response. Animations can also be triggered dynamically now by interaction with the ambient surrounding the model and specific behaviour commands. This could be of particular interest in simracing for pit stop animations, crowd animations, animal behaviour, like flocks of birds, rain, tyre marbles, sparks, etc. It could make the track environment and the action during the race look and feel quite a bit more realistic and natural, adding to the overall immersion of the player.


Convolution Reverb

Convolution Reverb is an audio technology that will handle sounds reverb and echo, producing high-fidelity results. For driving sims, it would mean better Doppler Effect and realistic interaction with specific ambient situations like galleries, corridors (parts of the track surrounded by tall buildings closely facing each other) or real life scenes like circuits set in natural environments.


A small mention goes also to the already known Chaos physics engine, which was showed during the Demo in the water ripples reacting to the player walking over the little stream inside the cave, and on the character’s scarf.


UE5_ruins.jpg


The Unreal Engine 5 has also another ace up its sleeve, which is Retro Compatibility. It will be able to interface itself with UE4 projects, which can be then quickly upgraded. The UE5 dev tools will be available in early 2021, with the engine itself to be fully released in the second half of the year, and we hope that all of the goodies shown in this Demo will translate someday into some incredible projects and titles for us simracers to enjoy!

Original Source: unrealengine.com


What do you think? What are you most excited about of these new technologies? Are you sceptical? Are you a modder? What do you make of it? Let us know, in the comments below!
 
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Petrolhead and sim enthusiast, passionate since the cradle about cars, motorsports and simracing. I read a lot, and I love to share what I learned with others!

Darkenend

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Jul 27, 2017
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The biggest thing for simracing I think it could be either the lighting or the ability to import directly CAD models into the engine.

The former could mean very realistic lighting for night racing conditions without really having to get super high-end hardware, the latter could mean that devs could just ask the companies for the CAD models and slap those directly into the game, cutting down a lot the time required to make the cars.
 

G_B

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Dec 29, 2018
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That's a good question... nice pictures ? ray tracing ? multiplayer without lag ?

Then you have to know how to talk about it calmly. On the ACC forums, any DX12, RTX, DLSS topic is bound to be locked...

ACC is the legitimate representative of the future of the Unreal Engine in sim racing, if it can't get out of RTX, DLSS etc. with the titanic work done on the Unreal Engine 4 version then I must have missed my life...and if the other studios if they get there first, then I doubly screwed up my life on ACC lol

Anyway, see you in 2021 for ACC a (ultimate) magic update ?
 
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Goffik

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An engine is only ever as good as the developer using it. From this article it seems the main improvements are visual and audio rather than anything specific to sim-racing. So it'll help our sims look and sound better for those that have the PC tech to run it. Personally, those things are a fairly low priority for me in my sims.
 

Trebor901

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Aug 10, 2007
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Raceroom saw this and rather stick with Dx9
Its not all about graphics. Keeping raceroom as it is currently keeps it open to a wider audience that maybe cant afford massive spec systems. Amazes me how ignorant people that can afford the higher spec things in life are to the fact theres people out there who work just as hard and enjoy the same sorts of things but cant afford to keep up with tech specs.

Tbh i think UE4 is crap personally. Just seems that the majority of games made on it are badly made but make the developers a lot of money thanks to people being too hung up on the visuals.
 

ShredatorFIN

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Epic Games has stated, that Fortnite will receive an update into Unreal 5. This will happen mid 2021. The "Retro compatibility" feature makes me wonder if ACC might actually get an UE5 update, after all.

Kunos has experience with UE4, so if not for ACC, Unreal Engine 5 might be an option for the next title after ACC.

What it needs to do for sim racing, is better antialiasing, without ghosting. MSAA or similar. ACC antialiasing is still pretty bad, unless the expensive SSAA is used. The game is also blurry in VR, compared to other sims. These would need to be improved, to be a good choice. What works in other genres, doesn't work in sim racing, where a sharp visibility into far distances is key.

The elimination of LOD popping in UE5 sounds indeed good for sim racing. Could be a bigger deal, than for most other genres. Since sim racing is basically about speeding towards infinite amount of LODs in the horizon, all the time. ACC has notable shadow popping on most settings.

Also UE4 seems to overall run badly, the optimization in UE4 games varies from poor to average. None of the ones I tried, ran great. Especially seems to be hard engine to optimize for indie developers (not just Kunos, same story with Insurgency Sandstorm for example). UE5 should improve on optimization, and on how indie devs can actually access it
 
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Trebor901

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Did any racing game dev even make UE4 work properly without having to give their product a hundred million significant updates?
In short no. No game that runs on it did. Plus everyone is raving about how amazing the PS5 is gonna be because of the way it was rendering that promo but it was only running at 1440p at 30fps.
 

Mr Latte

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This looked and sounded very impressive if its what a PS5 can accomplish.

I think for Sim racing from a graphical "WOW" the next may be what, ow when we see the new consoles with a Forza or GT immerging with either platform.
 

Trebor901

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This looked and sounded very impressive if its what a PS5 can accomplish.

I think for Sim racing from a graphical "WOW" the next may be what, ow when we see the new consoles with a Forza or GT immerging with either platform.
It was running at 30fps at 1440p.......put it in 4k and it will run awful