Unreal Engine 5’s Key Features Now Work With VR

Unreal Engine 5’s Nanite & Lumen now work with virtual reality.

UE5 shipped in April after launching in Early Access last year. In April Epic confirmed there are PlayStation VR2 titles in development using the new engine.

On modern PCs and next-gen consoles UE5’s Nanite geometry system brings a radical new way to how games are made & rendered. In previous engines, artists imported reduced detail versions of the original assets they created. When the player moves far enough away from an asset, an even lower detail version (generated in advance) is displayed instead. This is called LOD, Level of Detail. Nanite upends this approach. Instead, artists import the full quality assets and the geometric detail is scaled automatically in real time based on your distance from the asset. Virtual objects look incredibly detailed up close, and don’t “pop in” or “pop out” as you move away from them.

Nanite works with Lumen, UE5’s dynamic global illumination and reflections system. Epic describes the result as a “generational leap” for graphics.

Nanite and Lumen initially didn’t work in VR. Developers of VR apps had to use the legacy geometry and lighting systems, negating many of the advantages of the new engine. But with Unreal Engine 5.1 Nanite & Lumen now work with VR, as confirmed by Heavenue CEO Alex Coulombe. Coulombe told us his test build maintained 90 frames per second on a laptop with a mobile RTX 3080, streaming to a Quest headset using Air Link. He posted a public download link of the build for anyone interested in testing Nanite & Lumen in VR.

The public Unreal Engine 5 GitHub build works for PC VR, but Meta has its own UE5 branch it recommends for native Quest 2 development. Nanite & Lumen don’t work on Android though, and aren’t designed to work with mobile chips in general.

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