Epic made a Rivian R1T demo to show off its latest Unreal Engine 5 tools

The demo was a showcase for the engine's upcoming Substrate shading system.

Epic Games / Rivian

In 2020, Epic Games publicly demoed Unreal Engine 5 for the first time. Nearly three years later, gamers are still waiting for the tech to go mainstream. Outside of Fortnite and The Matrix Awakens, there aren’t any UE5 games you can play right now, and the first salvo probably won’t arrive until the end of the year at the earliest. None of that stopped Epic from showcasing the engine’s latest capabilities with a handful of new demos during its recent State of Unreal keynote at GDC 2023.

Arguably the most impressive one saw Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 developer Ninja Theory show off Epic’s new MetaHuman Animator. The tool promises to make realistic facial capture accessible to indie developers by allowing them to use an iPhone, instead of dedicated equipment, to capture facial performances. As you can see from the two demos Epic shared, the tool makes it possible to quickly and accurately transform a closeup video of an actor into something a studio can use in-game. Epic said the animator would launch this summer.

Separately, Epic showed off some of the enhancements coming to Unreal Engine 5.2 with a demo that featured, of all things, a digital recreation of Rivian’s R1T electric truck. The EV turned out to be the perfect showcase for UE 5’s new Substrate shading system. The technology allows artists to create different shading models and layer them as they see fit. In the demo, Epic gave the R1T an opal body to show how Substrate can allow different material layers to interact with one another without creating lighting artifacts. The demo was also a showcase for Epic’s new set of Procedural Content Generation tools. They allow artists to create expansive, highly detailed levels from a small set of hand-crafted assets.

If all goes according to plan, it won’t be much longer before the first slate of Unreal Engine 5 games arrive. Provided it’s not delayed again, Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl is slated to release this year. Lords of the Fallen and Black Myth: Wukong, two other UE5 projects, don’t have a release date yet but have been in development for a few years now.