Unreal Engine, a widely-used 3D computer graphics game engine, has found new uses in the entertainment industry, such as creating virtual sets for movies and TV shows like The Mandalorian and Westworld. And it’s not just limited to entertainment – Rivian uses the engine to render life-like animations of their vehicles in infotainment systems.
Recently, Epic Games, the developers of the Unreal Engine, collaborated with Rivian to showcase the capabilities of the latest version, 5.2. In a video demonstration, the virtual Rivian R1T pickup was presented, and it looks amazing! Rivian provided Epic Games with a model comprising around 71 million polygons, and the sound of the electric motors was captured and reproduced with Meta Sound, which can also create a realistic soundscape by mixing in the sound of the foliage, birds, and more.
Unreal Engine 5.2 can render in real-time various elements like rocks, leaves, and water, but it can also simulate the Rivian’s air suspension flex, electric motors, wheels, and tires when driving over rough terrain. The demonstration is impressive and showcases what the next generation of video games will look like. The engine is versatile and can be used to create virtual worlds for various scenarios, like YouTube videos or cool wallpapers with your favorite car, even if you’re not a gaming enthusiast.
The collaboration between Rivian and Epic Games is not something new, as the former uses Unreal Engine for their virtual vehicle animations. However, the recent demonstration proves the Unreal Engine’s latest capabilities and how it can be used to create immersive and realistic environments for different industries beyond gaming.
It’s been almost three years since Epic Games gave gamers a glimpse of Unreal Engine 5, but the wait for its mainstream adoption continues. Despite no UE5 games currently available outside of Fortnite and The Matrix Awakens, Epic demonstrated the engine’s newest capabilities at its recent State of Unreal keynote during GDC 2023 with a handful of impressive demos.
One such demo showcased Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 developer Ninja Theory using Epic’s new MetaHuman Animator, which promises to make realistic facial capture accessible to indie developers using an iPhone instead of specialized equipment. The animator will be available this summer and was used to transform close-up videos of actors into game-ready assets quickly and accurately.
In another demo, Epic demonstrated UE5’s new Substrate shading system and Procedural Content Generation tools with a digital recreation of Rivian’s R1T electric truck. The shading system allowed artists to layer different shading models and showed how different material layers interacted with each other without creating lighting artifacts. The Procedural Content Generation tools enabled artists to create highly detailed levels from a small set of hand-crafted assets.
The first UE5 games are expected to arrive soon, with Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl slated to release this year, and Lords of the Fallen and Black Myth: Wukong also in development. Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 promises to bring a new level of realism and flexibility to game development, and gamers eagerly await its widespread adoption.