An incredible new demo for Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 gives us a taste of what photorealistic VR could one day look like.
Update: This article has been updated for clarity.
Created by indie developer Lorenzo Drago, the footage features a scene based on the Etchū-Daimon Station train station in Toyama, Japan. Take a look for yourself below – you won’t be disappointed.
Between the high-resolution assets and glittering lighting, it’s often difficult to distinguish the scene from real life, even though it’s a pre-rendered scene and doesn’t reflect anything in real time.
The demo uses Unreal Engine 5’s Lumen lighting technology to create a stunningly realistic scene that also plays into some of the horror elements. Meanwhile, Drago revealed on his artstation page that the video was shot using “real-time VR tracking to emulate a handheld camera and flashlight.” Note that this does not necessarily mean that the experience ran entirely in VR with all the demands that would be made of it; the developer could have just used a Vive Tracker or similar method to record the clip.
Unreal Engine 5 does support VR headsets, though it’s currently missing some of its key features like Nanite and Lumen, and was recently released to studios to begin testing. But it’ll probably be a few more years before big-budget AAA flat screen games that use the engine ship, let alone VR titles.
Of course we are far from virtual worlds that are regularly looking this one good. Running UE5 apps on the highest settings will be a performance-intensive process, and adding VR support will only add to the load. Not to mention that it takes even bigger budgets to develop rich games and apps at this level of reliability. But this is certainly an interesting look at the kind of quality we could see from at least VR apps for PCs in the coming years.