Epic Games Details Unreal Engine 4 with ‘Elemental’ Demo

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 18th, 2014 at 12:50 pm,

Reluctant to play host to any new console reveals, E3 2012 peered into the next generation regardless with Square Enix’s Luminous Engine tech demo, and gameplay previews for speculative next-gen titles like Star Wars 1313. But the week, contrary to the show, isn’t over yet.

Waiting until the lights went out on this year’s event, Epic Games pulled back the curtain on their model for future game design: Unreal Engine 4. The developer released a brand new trailer, rendered completely in real-time, entitled “Elemental,” and gamers can now get a glimpse at how almost 10 years of technological engineering is coming to fruition.

Though devoid of the human characteristics displayed in the Square Enix trailer, “Elemental” shares many similar themes in order to set up its cinematic splendor: There’s the suspenseful awakening of an ancient, mystic being (a demonic knight as opposed to a dragon); the finite particle effects as snow and fire and lava begin bathing the beautifully crumbling temple; and then the sweeping outdoor vista as we follow the knight outside, blinded at first, and zoom over the endlessly reaching terrain of snow-capped mountains.

Much like Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 Samaritan demo last year, “Elemental” doesn’t just convey the real-life illusion of a singular facial animation or gust of wind. Each and every setpiece demonstrates a new feature behind the technology: the dynamic lighting when sun and flame emit their brightness on a rock, per-pixel lens flare (the appearance of reflections on the lens itself) in every shot, particles as small as snowflakes possessing their own manipulable directions. Even in stills, the results are stunning:

Unreal Engine 3’s presence spreads far and wide across the industry’s current-gen titles (the same technology behind its own Gears of War also brought us Commander Shepard’s fight against the Reapers in Mass Effect and 50 Cent’s fight against terrorism in Blood in the Sand), and Epic wants Unreal Engine 4 to have the same ubiquitous underpinnings in the next generation as well. While the company confirmed that “Elemental” was run from a high-end, “off-the-shelf” PC build – and that PC games with UE 4 capability would be released as early as 2013 – we know from Epic’s Tim Sweeney that 2014 is the year they envision it spreading to multiple platforms (i.e: the Xbox 720 and PS4).

This isn’t the first time Unreal 4 has been seen by the public – “Elemental” screenshots leaked back in May – but the official unveiling of the teaser was also accompanied by an extensive behind-the-scenes breakdown of the technology’s own inner workings. It’s well worth a look for anyone curious see how the engine would handle truly dynamic gameplay sequences.

Ranters, by now we’ve all witnessed the visual heights games will be climbing to in the coming years. How well do you think engines like Unreal 4 will handle factors like gameplay at the same time? How does “Elemental” stack up against “Samaritan” or Square Enix’s Luminous Engine?

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Source: Joystiq

TAGS: Epic Games, PC, PS4, Unreal Engine, Xbox One


    I’m sorry, but that wasn’t very impressive. I’ve already seen what the Unreal Engine can do. I just don’t think they fully showed it’s potential in this trailer.

    • ATG

      It is still extremely early, my friend.

  • Luger83

    Im sick of “real time” crap. Show in game.

    • Michael

      It’s essentially the same thing. Everything’s being rendered at the moment that it is shown.

  • Michael

    Pretty cool, but that is probably running on a $5,000 dollar machine. What does that mean for future consoles and PC requirements for future games?

    • ATG

      I believe that is running on a Gtx 680, that gpu is about $500-$600 alone. I THINK.

  • ATG

    From my understanding, since this is an easier toolkit for devs, development time should decrease? Or be less buggy?

    And what we’re seeing is next-gen?

    I think it looks great, to a PC gamer it’s not amazing but a console-only player should be very amazed. Either way it looks better than anything out now and just imagine what your favorite franchises will look like on UE4 come next-gen! Gears? Batman? Hell yes!

  • Ken J

    Really would have been more impressive if they put some human animations in it. I understand where they’re coming from. This demo demonstrated particle effects, lighting and reflections, the extremely high amount of detail and tessellation in the character, the way fluid actually “flows” and interacts with the environment, etc. And yes, all of those things are impressive, but to put it all together without anything we can really compare to in real life (other than the landscape and the volcano) I can see how a lot of people wouldn’t really know what to think of it or just simply not being too impressed by it.

    I’m glad they pointed out that this is running on an “off-the-shelf” PC. Even if it’s an extremely high-end PC, it’s still running on existing hardware. Prices for which will drop greatly in the coming years. Unlike Sony’s demo, where they didn’t mention at all (unless I missed it) what it was running on, for all we know, that one was running on some supercomputer that most of us will not have access to. Which would make all of that pretty unimportant to the games we will actually play using that engine…

  • ATG

    I find it amazing how many people aren’t impressed with these engines, Unreal 4, CryEngine 3, & the Luminous engine.

    • Ken J


      To clarify, I was merely pointing out my theory as to WHY some people are not impressed by this demo. I’m a very technical person so I noticed all of the technical things they are trying to showcase in this demo, but most people kind of need a more emotional connection.

  • Ken J

    I just thought about something. For those of you who are not at all impressed, are you watching this video in HD? When you click play, it defaults to like 360 vertical lines or 480, which is pretty low and will make any demo look pretty crappy. Make sure to click on the the little gear on the bottom right and select either 720p or 1080p…

  • Spider-Abu

    Wow, this might sound really random, but from the footage of this fire-demon soldier like being to the huge fiery structure to the huge vast snowy mountain scenes, I really wish that, with all the money Peter Jackson got with the LotR movies, maybe he can give the license under a proper AAAA developer, such as Rocksteady, to make a full fledged Lord of the Rings game which features almost all the details from the books, and has amazing dynamic action and combat and etc, all running on either this, Unreal Engine 4, or Square Enix’s Luminous engine. Now that…would be epic…imagine travelling along those vast open areas…and then battling Orcs here and there, including any and all the other threats from the series to keep the journey fresh. Damn.