Unreal Engine 5 Supports OpenXR With New VR Template

Unreal Engine 5’s Early Access release includes a new OpenXR-compatible VR template with support for Oculus Quest 1 and 2, Rift S, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality.

OpenXR is a broadly supported standard for VR development and Unreal Engine 5’s latest VRTemplate utilizing the framework means that some of the largest and most experienced VR developers are likely to start experimenting with it beginning today.

“We built the new VRTemplate using the OpenXR framework, the multi-company standard for VR development. The template is designed to be a starting point for all your VR projects. It includes encapsulated logic for teleport locomotion and common input actions, such as grabbing and attaching items to your hand,” Epic’s release notes for the template explain.

The release notes explain that the OpenXR plugin in Unreal engine supports “extension plugins, so you can add functionality to OpenXR that isn’t currently in the engine.” Epic also highly recommends developers “create your VR project using the VRTemplate in UE5, because the project settings and plugins are already configured for the best VR experience. In particular, Lumen is activated by default in UE5, but is not currently supported on XR platforms. Therefore, if you create a VR project without the VRTemplate, you must disable Lumen.”

Lumen is Unreal’s real-time global illumination technology. While UE5 “broadly supports the same platforms as UE4”, neither Lumen nor Epic’s new “virtualized micropolygon geometry system” Nanite support VR just yet. Nanite is meant to “remove poly count and draw call constraints” to eliminate “time-consuming work like baking details to normal maps and manually authoring LOD.” That would be an enormous time saver for VR developers supporting a wide range of hardware ranging from the standalone Quest to high-powered PC VR systems, but for now the technology is only supported on next-generation consoles and Windows. An Epic representative told us the company is “continuing to develop tools and workflows that enable you to simplify high-poly geometry imported for Nanite to use on other platforms.”

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