Epic Games announced today the release of Unreal Engine 4.25, which notably adds support for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. This new version of the engine includes optimizations and fixes for both platforms, and early support for Sony and Microsoft's certification requirements. Developers can check out the latest release notes here.
Unreal Engine is already the engine used for a number of key next-generation titles. Godfall, one of the first multiplatform next-gen games, was already announced as an Unreal Engine 4 title. It's joined by Xbox Game Studios' Senua's Saga: Hellblade II and Bleeding Edge, Square Enix' Outriders, and likely a number of other games that will be announced at the Xbox Series X Game Showcase happening on May 7 at 8 a.m. PT. Other recent Unreal Engine 4 titles that might make the jump to PS5 and Xbox Series include Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Trials of Mana, and Valorant.
Other interesting additions in the release notes include production-ready ray tracing and "immersive audio". Ray tracing looks to be the big feature for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X, a graphics rendering technique that's meant to simulate how light actually works in the real-world. In games, it allows for more realistic lighting and other effects like reflections. Epic Games first revealed real-time ray tracing in Unreal Engine 4 back during GDC 2018, and the company has been working on improving the feature since.
Audio was a key part of Mark Cerny's lengthy presentation on PlayStation 5 hardware and technology last month. The PS5 has the Tempest Engine, "a re-engineered AMD GPU compute unit" that is built to handle 3D audio in the system. The Tempest Engine allows the system to simulate more unique sound sources at higher fidelity, like simulating the sound of individual raindrops hitting a surface. The Xbox Series X also has a dedicated audio chip and the ability to use hardware-accelerated ray tracing for audio sources. Epic Games delivering on the audio side means that games should at least sound better for the next generation.
Under the current circumstances, we don't know if many next-gen games will launch this year, but at the very least Unreal Engine 4 will be ready for the upcoming consoles.