The Initiative Senior Artist Recreates Unreal Engine 5 Tech Demo In Unreal 4 With Incredible Results

It’s hard to believe, but Epic’s incredible tech demo of Unreal Engine 5 was first revealed seven months ago. Called “Lumen in the Land of Nanite,” the demo showcased what a brand new software engine could do on the PlayStation 5’s next-gen hardware, revealing lighting, textures, and models that went far beyond anything available in current games.

We’re still a ways off before Unreal Engine 5 revolutionizes the gaming industry as we know it, but that doesn’t mean Unreal Engine 4 is completely worthless. To prove just how the latest version of Unreal can still keep up, senior environment and lightning artist at The Initiative Xbox Studio Pasquale Scionti decided to keep his skills fresh over the holiday break by remaking Lumen in the Land of Nanites in Unreal Engine 4.26.

Everything we see here was rendered on Scionti’s personal rig which runs a GeForce RTX 3090, naturally. Instead of Unreal 5’s advanced Lumen lighting technology, Unreal Engine 4 has to settle for boring old ray tracing which doesn’t have quite as much usability as Lumen does. The lighting is dynamic, but the source of that light never really changes in the rendered videos below.

Unreal Engine 4 also just can’t keep up on the polygon count. Although the textures displayed here are pretty amazing, you can tell that Scionti’s version of Lumen doesn’t have as much rubble on the ground, not as many cracks in the cliff face, and not as much detail in the intricate carvings lining the ancient tomb.

Lumen herself is also not quite as fluid as she was in Unreal’s tech demo, as you can see in a later video posted on Scionti’s Twitter account.

Still, Scionti’s version of Lumen looks pretty good even in Unreal Engine 4.26. If we hadn’t already seen what Unreal Engine 5 could do, we’d be truly impressed.

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