The latest version of Unreal Engine was released on April 5, and game developers are already trying to figure out how to make their wildest dreams into photorealistic reality. Enter Volod, a video game tech artist who has created a cool Superman-style flight demo out of the assets from a The Matrix-themed asset pack Epic Games recently released.
The “City Sample” is a free downloadable asset pack released to help developers understand how Epic Games built The Matrix Awakens tech demo showcased at The Game Awards last year. Among others, the assets include the demo’s buildings, vehicles, and crowds. Both the Matrix demo and its asset pack use new AI, lighting, and rendering systems that are specific to Unreal Engine 5. If you have a gaming computer that won’t explode when you try to install a game engine on it, then you can already start building interesting stuff out of Neo’s San Francisco. Such as the Superman demo below:
Although Volod’s sample uses a faceless character model who bears no particular resemblance to the caped hero, the powerful sense of velocity and the city’s scale really sell me on the fantasy of whizzing around like a superhero. The character’s turns are tight, and trying not to get smushed while trying to navigate the underpass looks a lot more fun to play with than simple flight physics.
Volod told Kotaku that he has a background in designing visual effects for film, and that Epic’s special developers’ licence allowed him to experiment with the engine for a year before its public release.
“If I can find an interesting gameplay loop that ties into the flight mechanic, I’d consider putting together [a minimum viable product or] demo and releasing it to the public.” Volod told Kotaku. “But obviously [without the] association to the Superman IP.”
In a Twitter reply, the artist mentioned that their demo experienced “bottlenecks” where objects weren’t loading fast enough while Supes was flying through the city. Despite the technical hiccup with the new engine, it’s impressive that a single person was able to create a realistic-looking Superman-style flight demo within two days of Unreal Engine 5 going live. And that’s just one artist’s fantasy. I’m optimistic that the engine is going to open up interesting cinematic projects to an even wider range of creators than ever before.
While projects based on The Matrix Awakens are just gameplay demos for now, several notable games are currently being developed in Unreal Engine 5. Just last month, CD Projekt Red announced that the next Witcher game will be made in Epic’s latest engine. And the next Tomb Raider game was announced at the State of Unreal showcase. So even if Superman doesn’t officially land in Unreal in the near future, we should still have a ton of near-photorealistic games to look forward to as developers start flexing the new engine’s muscle.