The history of the Unreal Engine
1. birth: the breakthrough of "Unreal" in 1998
The Unreal Engine is one of the most well-known and successful game engines in the video game industry. It was developed by Epic Games and has a long and varied history that dates back to the 1990s.
The original version was introduced in 1998 with the release of the game Unreal. Developed by Tim Sweeney and his team at Epic Games, Unreal was one of the first first-person shooters that offered a 3D world with impressive graphics and innovative gameplay mechanics. The success of Unreal laid the foundation for further development of the software.
UE 2: The evolution of graphics and functionality
In 2004, Epic Games released the Unreal Engine 2, which offered improved graphics performance and expanded functionality for developers. The engine was used in a number of well-known games, including Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Deus Ex: Invisible War, and Gears of War. Gears of War" in particular was a huge success and helped establish the UE as one of the leading game development platforms.
3rd milestone for the games industry: Unreal Engine 3 in 2006
The next milestone was the release of Unreal Engine 3 in 2006. This version brought even more improved graphics capabilities and a variety of new features. Another notable feature was cross-platform support, which allowed developers to create games for different consoles and PC systems. Unreal Engine 3 has been used in numerous games, including "BioShock", "Batman: Arkham Asylum" and "Mass Effect".
4. a new business model: UE 4 and the path for indie developers
With the release of Unreal Engine 4 in 2014, Epic Games took a significant step forward. The engine was switched to a new business model where developers have to pay a percentage of the revenue instead of purchasing an expensive license. This gave small indie developers access to a high-quality game development platform. UE 4 has been used in a variety of games, including Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
5. from "Fortnite" to "Final Fantasy": Unreal Engine 4 in action
Epic Games is currently working on UE 5, which is expected to be released in the coming years. The engine promises even more advanced graphics, improved physics simulation and seamless integration of footage into games. Epic Games has also announced that Unreal Engine 5 will be available for free until a certain revenue is reached.
6. what is new with UE 5?
Unreal Engine 5 brings Lumen, a fully dynamic global lighting solution. With Lumen, developers can create incredibly realistic dynamic lighting effects that adapt to changes in the environment. This eliminates the need to manually create light map UVs and long wait times for light map calculations.
Nanite: Incredibly detailed environments. Nanite is a virtual micropolygon-based geometry system and a prominent feature of Unreal Engine 5, enabling the rapid creation of highly detailed environments without manual settings of levels of detail (LODs). Developers can use it to create and render cinematic-quality environments that contain billions of polygons without sacrificing performance in terms of frame rate and load times. Currently, both features are not yet executable on mobile VR devices.
Conclusion: Unreal Engine is the standard for high-end render quality in 3D engines and has clearly outstripped its competitor, the Unity Engine, in this area.
Furthermore, Unreal counts together with the Unity Engine are among the most popular engines when it comes to creating VR/AR content. Both engines support a wide range of devices.
You can download and test the Unreal Engine at Epic Games for free. Click here