Epic just wrapped up their latest State of Unreal showcase, and as you would expect, a fresh look at the latest version of Unreal Engine 5 was one of the big moments. The Unreal Engine 5.2 demo, entitled Electric Dreams, provided an enticing glimpse of the engine’s impressive new foliage-rendering abilities, procedural worldbuilding, and more. It’s pretty eye-popping stuff, which you should definitely take a moment to scope out, below.
Past Unreal Engine 5 demos Valve has offered have largely taken place in rocky, barren landscapes, so it’s pretty clear they made a pointed decision to focus on a lush, living environment this time around. We see a vehicle (a Rivian R1T electric pickup truck) make its way through a near-photorealistic jungle environment. Everything from the vines, to the rocks and water the truck drives over react appropriately, thanks to Valve’s Chaos physics engine.
Valve also shows off their new “Substrate” material framework. Basically, devs will be able to quickly and easily swap out what an object is made of. In the demo, Epic instantly swaps the car’s paint job for a reflective “opal” coat. Presumably, you could opt to have truck be made of pretty much anything.
For developers, perhaps the most exciting new Unreal Engine 5.2 feature are its new procedural content creation tools. At one point, we see Epic move an element of the jungle environment (a large cliff) around, and as they do, UE5 automatically fills in the area where the object once was. Here’s how Epic describes the new procedural tools…
“The large open world environment [seen in the Unreal Engine 5.2 demo] is built using procedural tools created by artists that build on top of a small, hand-placed environment where the adventure begins. Shipping as Experimental in 5.2, new in-editor and run-time Procedural Content Generation (PCG) tools enable artists to define rules and parameters to quickly populate expansive, highly detailed spaces that are art-directable in manner and work seamlessly with hand-placed content.”
Unreal Engine 5.2 is available today as a preview release. What do you think? Excited to see what UE5 devs will do with these new tools?