Unreal Engine 5 PS5 demo was just 1440p, 30 FPS, and lacked ray-tracing

Unreal Engine 5 PS5 demo was just 1440p, 30 FPS, and lacked ray-tracing
Editor at TechForge Media. Often sighted at global tech conferences with a coffee in one hand and laptop in the other. If it's geeky, I'm probably into it.

A demo of Unreal Engine 5 running on the upcoming PS5 was running at just 1440p resolution, 30 FPS, and lacked ray-tracing.

The video is a decent graphical showcase of what the next Unreal Engine can do but is relatively disappointing on a technical level. Many gamers are expecting up to 8K games, 120 FPS, and jaw-dropping ray-tracing from the next-gen consoles, but the current demo is more along the lines of the performance from the current PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

Digital Foundry interviewed Unreal Engine’s developer, Epic Games, to find out what’s going on. Nick Penwarden, VP of Engineering, said:

“When GPU load gets high we can lower the screen resolution a bit, and then we can adapt to that. In the demo, we actually did use dynamic resolution, although it ends up rendering at about 1440p most of the time.”

Dropping to 1440p doesn’t bode well, especially at just 30 FPS and without ray-tracing. However, Epic claims the demo was to show off Unreal Engine 5’s tech and “trade-offs” to deliver specific resolutions, frame rates, and features will be up to developers. On ray-tracing specifically, Epic Games confirmed that it was not used in the PS5 tech demo but it will be supported in Unreal Engine 5.

Last month, a former PlayStation developer praised the Xbox Series X while expressing concern about the PS5.

“The machine that Microsoft has put together is an absolute beast compared to what Sony has put together,” said Chris Grannell, an industry veteran who spent years at PlayStation studios behind the likes of Horizon: Zero Dawn and the WipEout series. “You start looking at the real-time ray-tracing capability … that’s where Sony has been caught off guard.”

Microsoft’s upcoming console has a power advantage with the Series X touting 12.155 TFLOPS of performance compared to the PS5’s 10.28 TFLOPS. While TFLOPS are not a complete measure, there’s a clear power advantage between the two and developers will likely developers have to make fewer trade-offs for Microsoft’s console. 

In response to a recent question on Twitter asking what technologies will bring about the greatest advances this generation, Xbox head Phil Spencer said:

“[Ray-tracing] on console will be great. I’m very focused on the work we are doing around Dynamic Latency Input (DLI).

In my view, the feel of games this upcoming generation will change as dramatically as any since 2D to 3D given CPU upgrade, DLI, memory bandwidth and SSD.”

Spencer took over leadership of Xbox from Don Mattrick back in 2014 after the disastrous launch of the original Xbox One and has been credited with restoring the brand.

During the Mattrick-era, Xbox was criticised as focusing more on becoming an “all-in-one” entertainment system rather than a games console. Spencer has since made it clear that Xbox is a gaming brand.

Under Spencer’s leadership, Xbox launched the current most powerful console: the One X. Spencer and his team also launched the innovative Xbox Game Pass which offers hundreds of games on-demand (including from Microsoft’s first-party studios on day one) while helping to fund smaller titles from indie developers.

While the majority of games are third-party and cross-platform, many gamers have been drawn to Sony’s consoles for the strength of their first-party studios like Guerilla, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch. Xbox has been on its own spending spree in recent years, acquiring talented studios like Rare, Obsidian, Ninja Theory, Double Fine, inXile, Turn 10, Playground Games, and more.

With a power advantage and arguably the strongest strategic positioning it’s ever had, the Xbox camp looks like it won’t give the PlayStation side such an easy time in this upcoming generation. Grannel believes that Sony “rested on their laurels” following the PS4’s success,  and the Unreal Engine 5 demo may serve as some evidence the PS5 may struggle to achieve the high expectations of this upcoming generation.

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7 comments on “Unreal Engine 5 PS5 demo was just 1440p, 30 FPS, and lacked ray-tracing

  1. Mariano on

    Sorry but….WTF? you don’t mention ANYTHING about the billions of triangles in the demo running in real time in a common machine many PC gamers have today? Something that looks like a Hollywood trailer in real time and in fact is MORE dense than what CGI pre rendered scenes use….. WTF. This is a revolution, a tech leap in computer graphics for all including Movie industry and you are saying “nah, ray tracing is better” what?

    I don’t know if this is a new lvl of ignorance or working for someone…….

    Reply
  2. Sheik on

    “Many gamers are expecting up to 8K games, 120 FPS, and jaw-dropping ray-tracing from the next-gen consoles”

    Nobody in their right might is expecting these consoles will be able to do that. This article reads as sensationalist – a quick look around and you’re pretty much the only place with a negative take on this.

    Reply
  3. MarVel_cellocci on

    I love how these articles aim to displease children in the ‘console wars’, essentially click bait.. This is all that fills my news feed nowadays.

    When Microsoft and Sony declare their consoles will support 8K/120fps & ray tracing:
    1. Don’t expect that to be all under the same title, and they could merely just be talking about video playback –
    2. We should see 4K/60fps with maybe some minor rt and a lot of 2K resolution scaling, maybe 3 years in and this will still look amazing. Don’t expect much else, let alone 8K AAA titles. You are dreaming.
    3. They can develop a light weight indie game (looking at Minecraft) with all those specs, if they wanted a pass. That doesn’t prove anything but it might still look pretty enough for someone to give a s.

    I’ve seen a 4 Titan SLI rig barely capable of 8K, there’s no way in hell these consoles are going to accomplish that!

    Anyhow, I’d be happy with 1080p/120fps rt, ultra everything. Best way to play imho. 4K gaming is just for bragging on NextGen and an absolute waste of resources when it could be better spent on ai, sfx, dynamic environments! No no, here’s an 8K pixel to stare at. Smh

    Reply
  4. Justin Lee Zerbel on

    They need to go back to the drawing board, they have failed, We gamers demand at least 1440P 60 fps every single time. This is not 2005 anymore

    Reply
  5. Josh Hafel on

    This article is frustrating. As a developer myself, not everything boils down to the graphics card. Currently, GPU performance is making leaps and bounds and the bottlenecks are coming from other hardware components. Sony took this issue head-on by tackling the main culprit, the SSD. It doesn’t matter if one GPU is 2TFLOPS faster than the other if the GPU os having to wait for the SSD to Fetch the geometry or the Memory to cache the lighting. (which is what unreal was tackling with Lumen, and what I thought was more impressive than Ninite. Lighting that is necessarily not raytraced, but is REAL-TIME). Realtime is exponentially more taxing than raytracing as it allows all lighting to be dynamic and movable. versus raytracing (which has been around for over a decade now, is much less demanding). I am not a sony fanboy bashing Xbox by the way, I am excited to see what their solutions have been, my point is gamers don’t always understand computers and can sometimes spit off all the GPU specs and the poor and unglamorous SSD is left ignored in the corner. When nine times out of ten it is the SSD or the RAM that is preventing your GPU from reaching its full potential. Sony did something that not even PC hardware has yet. Consoles are finally getting very innovative. and its exciting

    Reply

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