×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Epic finally clears the air on PS5 demo

Now that both Microsoft and Sony have unveiled spec sheets for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, there's been some debate about which console is more powerful. Microsoft, for what it's worth, showed us some "gameplay" — which just happened to look like trailers — during its latest Inside Xbox stream. Sony, on the other hand, came out swinging last week with a demo of Unreal Engine 5 running on PlayStation 5 hardware.

That PS5 demo was pretty breathtaking, both from a visual standpoint and with regard to the technology being used. It looked so good, in fact, that Epic Games — the maker of Unreal Engine — immediately began fielding questions on whether or not the same demo could run on Xbox Series X.

Epic's Tim Sweeney provided an answer late on Friday afternoon.

"The Unreal Engine 5 demo on PlayStation 5 was the culmination of years of discussions between Sony and Epic on future graphics and storage architectures," Sweeney said. "The Nanite and Lumen tech powering it will be fully supported on both PS5 and Xbox Series X and will be awesome on both."

So there you have it. You can put away the pitchforks for the time being, as it appears Epic will be making its Unreal Engine 5 tech available to developers on both consoles. Really, though, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

The Unreal Engine is one of the better development engines out there, and has been used in countless titles you've undoubtedly heard of. Obviously Fortnite is one, but did you know that Unreal was also used for Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order? Or Final Fantasy 7 Remake? Or Gears 5? Unreal can almost be considered the gold standard as far as engines go, and because it's so widely used, there are more developers who have experience working with it.

Locking Unreal Engine down to a single next-gen console would be a bad idea for a number of reasons. Epic would make less in royalties, as Unreal Engine games wouldn't sell as many copies. And developers might end up choosing a different engine if they're creating cross-platform games, just to make the process of working across those platforms a little easier.

Fortunately, that's not a reality we'll have to experience, which means we should expect to see some very good-looking games on both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. What kinds of games? Well, the PlayStation 5 demo for Unreal Engine 5 gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The demo largely took place inside an underground cavern, with a large amount of debris scattered about and some natural light peeking in from the surface. This gave Unreal Engine 5 a chance to show off some impressive tech for lights and shadows, and allowed the engine to flex its muscle with regard to the geometry on screen.

The cavern portion was decidedly reminiscent of an Uncharted or Tomb Raider title, which means you can expect Unreal Engine 5 to make those kinds of games look really, really good.

But games with larger play spaces should benefit from the engine, too. Toward the end of the tech demo, we got to see the unnamed protagonist exit the caves and step out into the world. This happened pretty seamlessly, likely thanks to the lightning speed of the PlayStation 5's solid state storage and the increased RAM on the new machine.

This portion featured a lot of zipping through the air and wall-running, all while barely missing crumbling pillars. Despite the demo's setting and aesthetic, it really showed off what a next-gen Spider-Man title could be capable of. That's not to say the sequel will use Unreal Engine; the first Spider-Man used an engine built by Insomniac. But if any new project wants to ape that game's mechanics, Unreal Engine 5 might be a solid choice.

If nothing else, the PlayStation 5 demo for Unreal Engine 5 has us very excited about what the next generation of console gaming will bring. The last generational leap didn't feel all that substantial in hindsight, as the Xbox One and PS4 were still held back by weak CPUs and old-school spinning hard drives. Both the Series X and PS5 will address those shortcomings, however, while also upping the ante in the graphics department.

And both, as we've mentioned, will have support for Unreal Engine 5. It's not clear which next-gen titles are making use of the new engine at this moment in time, but as soon as we hear something, we'll let you know.