Developed by esteemed Japanese developer Atlus, Shin Megami Tensei V represents the studio's first foray using Unreal Engine. The highly anticipated JRPG was released to tremendous critical praise on Nintendo Switch, with review sites like GameSkinny stating, "Shin Megami Tensei V is an outstanding RPG, made all the more so by its countless improvements over its older siblings." To see how the development team pulled off this incredible feat, we visited their offices in Tokyo, where they shared what UE tools were particularly critical in helping them achieve their vision. Make sure to watch the video below!
Speaking on the game's much-praised stylish graphics, Atlus Lead Modeling Designer Takumi Yoshihara shared, "Our approach was to maintain the dark atmosphere of the Shin Megami Tensei series while adding new 3D depictions of hand-drawn illustrations." He added, "We took graphics with a hand-drawn look and tried layering on Unreal Engine’s signature photorealistic effects to produce a result appropriate for modern game consoles."
He credits UE's materials system for being instrumental here. "Unreal Engine’s materials were ideal for this kind of experimentation. The demons in the Shin Megami Tensei series, in particular, vary widely in appearance, so we often needed custom materials," he added, "It was nice to have the flexibility to deal with situations like that smoothly." The lead modeling designer elaborated, "Material instances were easy to work with. Because it’s easy to find and replace parent materials, we could effortlessly review and adjust their appearance, which was really great."
Atlus Lead Field Designer Kohei Onishi shared that Pivot Painter was one of his favorite UE tools. "At first, we used it to depict swaying trees and grass, but it was also really helpful when we created the [game's] mysterious objects."
Being a heavily story-driven game, Atlus Lead Event Designer Katsuhito Hora stated, "One of our goals for Megami Tensei V was to create cinematic cutscenes, and I think that Sequencer was an indispensable tool for accomplishing that goal." He added, "Because it was so easy to adjust the camera and lighting, designers could paint a detailed picture of a scene to their hearts’ content." He went on to say, "Sequencer made it easy to access and adjust a model’s internal parameters individually and to make changes for a single take, which was really helpful."
On the scripting side, Atlus Lead Programmer Yoshiki Oyamada shared how helpful visual-scripting system Blueprints was to iteration. "I should say that we threw out all of our gameplay scripts from Shin Megami Tensei IV and replaced them with Blueprints." He added, "Unreal Engine’s Blueprints were superior to the scripts we used in Shin Megami Tensei IV and allowed our scripters to do more than they could before, so, in the end, they resulted in significant productivity gains over our previous scripts."