Unreal Engine 5 is now available in Preview!

22. Februar 2022
If you’ve been eagerly awaiting a production-ready release of Unreal Engine 5 since we offered Early Access last year, you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve reached the next milestone: Unreal Engine 5 is now in Preview! 

Since we released Early Access, Fortnite is now built on Unreal Engine 5, and we also created our technical demo The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience with the code. These internal efforts were designed to make Unreal Engine 5 more production-ready, stable, and optimized. 

We are currently working towards the final shipping version, with all features that we intend to include now ready for testing. In addition to many improvements to previously exposed tools like Nanite, Lumen, One File Per Actor, World Partition, and MetaSounds, you’ll find some exciting new animation tools, groundwork support for Large World Coordinates, and much more. We’ll get into a bit more detail later on in this post.

We should stress that Preview releases will still have instabilities and other issues, and should not be used for production. We suggest making a copy of existing projects if you wish to use them to experiment with the new tools and workflows. However, we’d love for you to put them through their paces to help us identify any remaining glitches, so that we can get them fixed for the final release. Please log any issues you encounter on our bug reporting page.

Unreal Engine 5 Early Access was focused on exposing new features for next-gen game development. With this Preview release, we invite creators from all industries to take it for a test-drive. One caveat, though: while you should be able work in UE5 much the same way as you have been able to do in UE4, with your existing workflows supported, some of the major new features such as Lumen and Nanite have not yet been validated with non-games workflows. 

Nonetheless, you should enjoy a redesigned Unreal Editor, better performance, an extended geometry editing toolset, improved Path Tracing, and more! There’s plenty for you to get your teeth into, and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

What’s new since UE5 Early Access?

While the full list of new features and improvements is extensive, here are some key highlights to watch out for:

Rendering

Nanite

Nanite is UE5’s new virtualized geometry system that enables you to create games and worlds with massive amounts of geometric detail. 

In this release, there have been many improvements to stability, quality, performance, and tools, including:
  • Improved performance and memory usage of Nanite streaming in editor
  • New error-based metric for Fallback Mesh creation (previously called Proxy Mesh)
  • UX to batch convert assets to or from Nanite and perform on-disk data trimming
  • Support for all view modes and usage flags, e.g. Shader Complexity view mode
  • Per-instance selection
  • Per-instance/Actor custom data

Lumen

Lumen is UE5's new fully dynamic global illumination and reflections system, designed for next-generation consoles. 

Since the Early Access release, there have been many stability, quality, and performance improvements, including:
  • Full hardware ray tracing support, which doesn’t require distance fields or any other software tracing, and scales up to large worlds
  • Improved Final Gather quality, especially visible on foliage
  • Glossy reflections on translucency
  • Translucency Final Gather, which improves global illumination quality on translucency
  • Landscape support

Virtual shadow maps

This new shadow mapping method delivers consistent, high-resolution shadowing. Virtual Shadow Maps are specifically designed to work well with highly detailed film-quality Nanite assets and large, dynamically lit open worlds.

Enhancements in this release include:
  • Overall stability and performance improvements
  • Improved handling of shadow invalidation due to moving/deforming meshes
  • Support for more non-Nanite mesh types
  • Support for more material types for foliage (two-sided, subsurface)

Path Tracer

Introduced in Unreal Engine 4.27, the Path Tracer is a DXR-accelerated, physically accurate progressive rendering mode that requires no additional setup, enabling you to produce offline renderer-quality imagery right from Unreal Engine. 

The UE5 Previews offer improvements in stability, performance, and feature completeness, including: 
  • Support for hair primitives
  • Support for the eye shader model
  • Improvements in sampling, BRDF models, light transport, supported geometries, and more

World building

World Partition

World Partition is a distance-based streaming solution. It greatly simplifies the large-world creation process by changing how levels are managed and streamed, automatically dividing the world into a grid and streaming the necessary cells. 
Since Early Access, there have been a large number of improvements in stability, performance, and feature completeness, including:
  • Landscape support
  • Sequencer support
  • New streaming source shapes
  • VT support in Minimap
  • Hierarchical support in Data Layers and a new UX

One File Per Actor (OFPA)

The One File Per Actor system enables multiple team members to collaborate on the same level simultaneously, by saving data for instances of Actors in external files.

In this release, we’ve focused on improving stability and quality. In addition, there have been some improvements in the Source Control Editor.

NEW! Large World Coordinates (LWC)

In the UE5 Previews, we’ve laid the groundwork for creating absolutely massive worlds in Unreal Engine 5—without the need for rebasing or other tricks—by adding initial support for Large World Coordinates (LWC). In addition to moving to the use of double-precision values under the hood, we’ve focused heavily on performance and memory optimization to help ensure that these changes have very little overhead. 

Animation

Control Rig

Control Rig enables you to create custom controls on your imported skeletal mesh; using these, you can generate new animations or modify existing ones within the Unreal Editor. 

This release offers considerable performance improvements and many new features, including:
  • Graph debugging tools that let you easily find and fix issues
  • Dynamic Hierarchy and Space Switching, enabling you to attach rig controls together
  • Spline tools for manipulating curves inside Control Rig
  • The ability to create Functions that can be shared between Control Rigs

NEW! Distance Matching and Pose Warping

New in Preview, these two features combine to allow a small set of animations to work with a wide range of motions. 
  • Distance Matching controls the play rate of an animation so that it matches the motion of the in-game character. 
  • Pose Warping dynamically adjusts the pose of the animation to better match the motion of the in-game character. 
     

NEW! Anim Blueprint Templates

This new feature enables you to create reusable animation graphs, as well as enabling engine features to be shipped as animation graph assets. With it, you can create animation Blueprint logic that isn’t bound to specific skeletons or assets. These assets cannot directly reference animation assets but instead can be reused in the context of other animation Blueprints. 

NEW! IK Rig and IK Retargeter

These two new features make it easier and more efficient to animate skeletal characters in the Unreal Editor. 
IK Rig enables you to interactively create solvers and goals that perform pose editing for your skeletal meshes. A common use case is to adjust a character additively while maintaining the existing animation, such as a moving character looking at a target.
IK Retargeter enables you to rapidly and robustly transfer animations between characters of different proportions across different skeletons. The retargeting can be done either at runtime or for offline creation of new animation assets.

Audio

MetaSounds

MetaSounds provide audio designers complete control over DSP graph generation for sound sources.

In Preview, you can now compose MetaSounds within other MetaSounds, similar to Materials, and there’s new support for user-defined nodes. In addition, you can now reuse graphs using Presets, which are references to a shared MetaSound graph but with new custom default inputs and settings. 

MetaSounds also now feature an interface system that enables them to more deeply connect with the gameplay code and the world they're in, allowing for much richer, more contextual sounds.
Check out a complete list of updates included in Preview in the Unreal Engine 5 Preview forum topic; we invite you to share your general feedback on this and subsequent Preview releases there. Plus, don’t forget to log any issues you encounter on our bug reporting page.

    Ready to preview Unreal Engine 5?

    Download Unreal Engine 5 Preview from the Epic Games launcher or GitHub (login required). We look forward to hearing from you!
     
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