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Epic reveals mind-blowing new Unreal Engine tech

Thursday, 3 March 2011 01:22 GMT By Nathan Grayson

During a GDC behind-closed-doors session earlier today, Epic’s Mark Rein blew the lid off a new, next-gen focused version of Unreal 3. Yes, next-gen. And he was abundantly clear about it: this stuff won’t run on current consoles. Bar, you’ve just been raised.

“This is our proposal for what the next generation of gaming is going to be,” Rein said as the demo began.

We were immediately introduced to a rain-spattered neon sign proclaiming “powered by Unreal technology.” The scene: a gritty, dilapidated cityscape. It’s night time, and the streets are slick with rain. All manner of signs and electrical lights are reflected in the gloomy mix of rain and atmosphere that’s pooled on the ground. Par for the course with modern games, though, right? Here’s the thing, though: all of it honestly, actually – no hyperbole – looks like CG.

“The whole idea behind this is to tell the hardware manufacturers that this is what you should be doing down the road,” Rein explained while the demo rolled.

“The whole idea behind this is to tell the hardware manufacturers that this is what you should be doing down the road.”

Next up, we were introduced to a trench coat-clad, cigarette smoking man who was attempting to break a chain with a welding tool. Shades of Deus Ex? You don’t know the half of it. While the man did his presumably dirty deed, we were given a close up on his face, which was coated in tiny rivulets of rain. The man himself was expressive, his face subtly shifting and cringing as he focused on his work. Meanwhile, light from the welder reflected on his face, dancing about as the flame sparked and sizzled.

After the chain’s brittle links gave way, the man smoothly lit his cigarette with his welder. Then he heard something. Quickly scaling a nearby roof, he glimpsed multiple armor-clad soldiers kicking an elderly woman curled up in the fetal position on the ground. And that’s when things got interesting. The man turned his skin into some form of hyper detailed rock – craggy and detailed down to each individual pebble – and leaped right into the fray. He proceeded to brutally punch two of the soldiers, shattering one’s face mask and revealing a grimace that looked just about ready to collapse in on itself underneath. With those two dispatched, he shot the third straight through the head, leaving him slumped against a nearby billboard.

Next up, another celebratory cigarette, because why not? This guy’s so cool, cigarettes are afraid of getting lung cancer from him. But as he prepared to take another puff, a giant, house-sized “Samaritan” robot sneaked up behind him. He turned to meet it, noting its colossal size, and then did what any logical man would: turned to stone and started punching. End of demo.

Some things to note: this was only a tech demo – not a new game. Not that we’d mind if Epic made a Deus Ex-like action game, but we digress. Also crucial: Rein noted that the demo was running on three Nvidia GTX 580s. For the non-technophiles among you, that’s off-the-shelf, readily available (albeit ultra high-end) hardware. You may very well own a similar configuration right now. Also, while the screens below are definitely indicative of what the demo looked like, they don’t do the fluidity of movement, animation, and physics justice at all. Again, this looked like a highly choreographed CG movie, but in reality, many of those things were being calculated by robust physics engines. The Epic staffers running the demo then proved that to us, replaying the demo and detaching the camera, zooming in and out, and showing us how things looked with physics turned on and off.

“The engine now scales all the way from an iPhone 3GS up to next-generation hardware. That means you could theoretically make a game that’d run on every single one of these devices.”

At the end of the day, though, this isn’t Unreal 4. It’s still definitely Unreal 3, Rein was quick to clarify. He added, however, that if this were to be given a number, it’d be Unreal 3.975. He also noted that this is a bigger leap than the one between Unreal 2 and Unreal 3 – and it shows. On top of that, it’s versatile as all get-out.

“Another thing that’s awesome is that the engine now scales all the way from an iPhone 3GS up to next-generation hardware. That means you could theoretically make a game that’d run on every single one of these devices. Mobile phones to tablets to set top boxes,” said Rein.

The coolest part of all? All this technology is in Unreal licensees hands today. When Epic updates, so does everyone else. The whole gaming industry’s been sort of reluctant about a next generation of consoles, but Epic – and the rest of the tech business – have other plans.

“If the next game consoles can’t do this, well, Apple increased their iPad by nine times today,” Rein said.

Them be fightin’ words, gaming industry. It appears, however, that Epic will be providing your most powerful weapon.

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37 Comments

  1. Toastrules

    If they want next gen consoles to be like this… they’re gonna hurt my wallet…

    #1 4 years ago
  2. xino

    unreal engine 3 or 4?
    it’s old and outdated and I can’t believe they could pull off stuff with this engine!
    it’s crazy man.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. James Mac

    So, have they fixed the texture pop on this new iteration of their engine?

    #3 4 years ago
  4. stlthriot

    Looks amazing so far!

    #4 4 years ago
  5. albo88

    splinter cell 6?

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Thegaiden

    @1 If this is going to be what next gen looks like then I’m going to need a much bigger wallet…

    #6 4 years ago
  7. xxJPRACERxx

    So Unreal Engine 4 will be for next-next-gen consoles?

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Rosseu

    I can’t wait for what Kojima can do with this!

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Dannybuoy

    Realistic bokeh effects FTW

    #9 4 years ago
  10. rainer

    All fine & dandy but how much does it cost to implement that level of graphics if Epic dont have some sort of magic tool in the box were going to see fewer games on the market because of the massive costs required to generate that.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. jnms

    All that talk on no ‘next gen consoles’ on the horizon.

    And then this?

    I think next-gen consoles are closer than some may believe…

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Erthazus

    I like how people know shit.

    Everything they showed here is available since CRYENGINE 2.

    Everything they showed is old. It’s a Crysis 1 level of 2007. I’m not impressed at all and i’m not the biggest graphics whore.

    and yes, Old consoles need to go away. I’m sick of current gen graphics.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. M2Kx

    `i’m not the biggest graphics whore.`

    I LOLED!

    actual comment:

    Well, judging by the screens it really doesn’t look very good, but I never was a big fan of UE3 :/

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Erthazus

    @M2Kx, LOLED much at my comment?
    I like the best performance. It’s the difference.

    If i liked only graphics i would stop playing my PS3 long time ago.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Erthazus

    Because nothing here is impressive. Everything like MSAA, High detailed shadows, soft shadows, reflections are made in Cryengine 2 and some other great engines.

    It’s not impressive, but of course typical console players know shit their jaw will be dropped .

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Goffee

    Hmm, that’ll look good on NGP then!

    #16 4 years ago
  17. OlderGamer

    I guess I really should step up my PC at some point.

    Unlike Erth, I am fine with current gen consoles level of power/graphics. The problem I have is that they break too often. My xb360 is down a disc reader right now. Its my thrid or fourth one I bought already, and I have no desire to buy another one. Yet if I don’t I lose 85% of my libary. I am on my second PS3 btw, and because I don’t use it very often, I wonder if it got the same numbers of hours my xb360 does, would I have more probs with PS3 as well?

    None of it is made very well at all.

    Thats why I am on PC, but I really could use a step up. Now to convince the wife, lol.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. ARG.Ghost

    Please don’t make a big of this. Remember that engine has nothing to do with texture and evrething else. This is all pre-render, they are selling something that is not. All the tecniques that show Epic Games is on use by other developers already. The first shot, that light is the one that use Crysis 2 by Cry Engine 3. The Shadow point reflection is also use by CE3, Depth of field is a good improvment but nothing new. Billboard reflection is in all games. MSAA is the filter that use Killzone 3 and the new’s HD 5000 and HD 6000 from ATi/AMD in all games because active from drivers. And the rest is all pre-render to sell, this is not current gen.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. maximusprime

    I’d like everyone to keep in mind that it would take less than x3 GTX580s to produce this level of graphics fidelity. I could imagine they used three to keep the tech demo running at a smooth frame rate. The Gears of War games on the Xbox 360 run at 30 FPS(60 being smoothest seen by the eye) at 1280×720(1920×1080 being full HD) with a lot of short cuts being taken to keep it running smooth. My point is, I’m not getting my hopes up in to thinking that next generation consoles are going to be packing the horsepower equivalent to x3 GTX580s. When Unreal Engine 3 was first shown off close to ten years ago I was more impressed with it than I am this. That is of course because it was more of a leap even in still-image form. It’s obvious this is Unreal 3.97.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. spiderLAW

    @17
    Im on my 2nd PS3 also. My first PS3 bluray drive stopped working and i didnt know there was a simple fix for it so i got a new PS3 (80gb 3rd gen) and that sucker has lasted forever without any issues what so ever. I have put hours upon hours of gameplay time in, bluray watching, media using, and idle hours and i have not had one problem.
    I have had 4 xbox 360s so far. I had 1 launch PRo (died, wasn’t repairable so MS sent me a new one off of my extended warranty), 1 hdmi Pro (RROD’d, fixed, RROD’d, fixed, FRIED…sold for parts), 1 Elite (broke after i sold it lol), and now i have a slim that TEA bought me. I hardly play the xbox anymore and its only because i am afraid of it breaking. I would love to jump back into playing Halo Reach, Gears2, L4D2, NFS: MW (my favorite NFS), and TMNT reshelled but i am really afraid that this slim version might break…its already overheated once :P

    #20 4 years ago
  21. walkingfiend

    not interested, last Epic game I cared playing was UT2004, and it didn’t need a high end PC too run nicely.

    Epic is mostly making money by selling its high tech middleware, so it’s only natural for them to want more raw power from consoles.

    to quote Iwata, they are not dependent on “technology” rather “content”.

    I’m pretty fine with current gen graphics, KZ3 looks Awesome, I don’t really think anything more than it is needed currently.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. spiderLAW

    I agree with 18 and 19
    I would be far more impressed if they had shown any type of real gameplay with this engine. Right now its just a prerendered video to tech specs.
    Until i see actual gameplay with this version of the UE3…im not impressed.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. maximusprime

    I’m not saying it isn’t impressive, because they really have done some cool things, but like ARG.Ghost above me is trying to say: this is Unreal WITH all of the fancy bells and whistles(Depth of field, shadow point reflection, MSAA, etc.) that already exist but aren’t well implemented in to console gaming as they are in PC gaming. It’s still totally rad even if by the time it’s implemented in to next-gen games it’s dumbed down.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. theevilaires

    OG: “I am on my second PS3 btw, and because I don’t use it very often, I wonder if it got the same numbers of hours my xb360 does, would I have more probs with PS3 as well?”

    No you wouldn’t. I still have my launch 20GB and 60GB PS3′s and no issues that have caused them to be replaced. For you to even compare the quality of a 360 to a PS3 is a joke hardware wise. You really need to use and appreciate your PS3 more. Makes no sense to pay that much money for a door stopper.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    I don’t understand how and why they can continue to use Unreal 3 engine, especially for a “next-generation” project.

    With Frostbite 1, now going to Frostbite 2 and Crytek 2 going to Crytek 3, why on earth are we hearing about Unreal 3 in a “next-generation” article?

    #25 4 years ago
  26. theevilaires

    spiderLAW: “I hardly play the xbox anymore and its only because i am afraid of it breaking. I would love to jump back into playing Halo Reach, Gears2, L4D2, NFS: MW (my favorite NFS), and TMNT reshelled but i am really afraid that this slim version might break…its already overheated once :P

    I was going to ask you to join me in some Reach last night when I saw you playing Gears2 but then I thought to myself that it wouldn’t be right sending a grown man to bed crying 12am midnight ;) As far as the new 360 slim I don’t think they will be much of an issue overheating anymore. My 60GB 360 along with the S model are doing fine with no issues so far (fingers crossed) but then again I only play 10 hours a week on them. I’m starting Mass Effect 1 next week and lets see how the 60GB one holds up to a long RPG.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. theevilaires

    walkingfiend: “I’m pretty fine with current gen graphics, KZ3 looks Awesome, I don’t really think anything more than it is needed currently”.

    I agree 100% if all devs could get every game on KZ3 and UC3 level graphically then we all would be very satisfied. But it seems the majority of devs can’t and they need extra horsepower. I do however want new hardware because these consoles are not using my TV’s full potential. I want to see a 1080P killzone 4 or UC4 hands down. GT5 runs in 1080P but you can tell its struggling to do so.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. MushroomStamp

    I’m on my 3rd PS3 (first died in the first 30 days, 2nd 1 year later) and on my 3rd 360. I’m not sure about the quality actually. Only because I can’t compare to other electronic devices because no other devices I have get this much use. Luckily my ps3′s both died within warranty so i didn’t have to buy again, where my 360 warranty, both times were outside of warranty… but much cheaper to replace. Considering my ps3 was 600$ and 360′s are only 199, I pretty much spent the same on both.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. spiderLAW

    TEA
    You should have…i dont mind crying. I have been into Killzone 3 and MvC3 multiplayer lately and some Reach would have been a refreshing change.
    My slim overheated once during play time in Halo Reach. I was in a match (16kills 2deaths) and it froze and then shutdown “Wtf, what does that red dot mean?” so i looked it up…it shut off due to overheating.
    If im not busy tonight we can do some KZ3 multiplayer or Reach. Which-evers-clever.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. runbmp

    So EPIC releases a tech demo with technology that has already been used in other demo’s, games, benchmarks and its now labled mind blowing?

    what?

    3d Mark 2011, Metro 2033, and Crysis already do many of these today… and for quite some time now.

    And a engine that scales all the way from an iPhone 3GS to high end hardware might sound awesome to shareholders but to PC gamers it means poorly optimized code for the specific platform.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. OlderGamer

    Well I gotta do something. My trouble is that I have sunk so much of this generations game budget into the xb360. I lose most of my games, not to mention the dlc.

    I own like 5 games for PS3.

    And I hate the idea of rebuying stuff I use in order to play it on a PS3. But going forward, when I pick up a game it is going on my PS3. And I agree my BC fatty is going strong. Seems fine to me.

    At this point I have been using xb360 for Netflix and arcade games. I also have a couple of Games on Demand games. The whole thing really irks me. Can’t help but feel riped off. Leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. I mean one system – you say well shit happens. Two you notice. Beyond your only fooling yourself. Throwing good money after bad. But the loss of investment libarywise is staggering and tbh, ireplacable.

    To make it worse, the new slims are ‘possed to be better. But I have an old HDD, and they won’t work with the new slims(xb360s), so not like I can buy an arcade model, use my HDD and save a bit. Nope gotta buy another big boy 360.

    Bagh thinking about it is pissing me off. Ima go do some house work lol.

    #31 4 years ago
  32. MushroomStamp

    OG, not true.. I bought the halo Slim (new HDD) and just xfered all my games/profiles/saves via a usb stick. btw, my fav thing about the new model is the much quieter fan.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. MushroomStamp

    My mistake.. I see what you meant now.. *sure wish there was an EDIT feature*

    #33 4 years ago
  34. spiderLAW

    @31
    i am your savior in a way
    If you buy a slim you CAN use your current hard drive on it. Its simple.
    I have a 4g slim but i have my old 60gb hard drive in it.
    Heres what you do:
    1) Take apart the hard drive enclosure for your fatty 360 hard drive.
    - All you need is a T6 (tiny) torcs driver (its the screwdrivers that looks like a star, you can get them at Home Depot)and a T10 (fat) torcs driver.
    - Take out the tiny T6 torcs screws out of the plastic enclosure. There are a total of 4 of them (one is hidden under the shiney Microsoft Sticker warranty thing) and pull apart the plastic enclosure.
    - Inside is a metal frame and inside that frame is the hard drive you need. To take apart the Frame use the T10 torcs driver and remove the 4 screws.
    - Simply remove the metal lid you just unscrewed. Slide the hard drive back and disconnect the cable the hard drive is attached to.
    2) Now, under the slim 360 (or on its right side) there is a small push button on a grate that looks like a fan hole. Press it and lift it up.
    - You will see a port for a drive to be installed.
    - Take the Drive that you just removed and push it gently into this port. It will be slightly loose but you can simply put a piece of cotton or something throw away to keep it sturdy.
    - Turn on your 360 and go to settings and then to Storage. You will see your hard drive installed and it will say “Microsoft” at the right corner of its label stating that the new 360 sees it as a legit xbox hard drive.
    BAM!

    But…PS3 is good enough…..but i just dont want you losing everything you paid for.
    Thats why i stopped buying stuff for 360 after my 2nd RROD on my second unit. I only buy must have exclusives for it now.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. spiderLAW

    oops…need to proof read. Its called a Torx* driver, not a torcs :P

    #35 4 years ago
  36. OlderGamer

    Thnx for the help Law, I will be tracking down the tools this weekend. I’ll let ya know how it goes.

    Big help!

    #36 4 years ago
  37. fearmonkey

    Screen shots look great, but it still has that “It’s unreal 3 engine” look, just a much improved version of it.
    That said, the street screen shot for some reason reminded of Vampire:The Masquerade Bloodlines. I wish they would develop a sequel for that game, and it would look like this.

    #37 4 years ago

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