The Evolution of Unreal Engine (1996-2021)


NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

From Unreal Tournament, BioShock, Batman, Arkham, Final Fantasy VII Remake, to, of course, Fortnite, the Unreal Engine is the backbone of many of our favorite games. Let's take a trip down memory lane to see how far the game development technology has come. Get a glimpse of how the Unreal Engine has evolved from its first iteration all the way to its fifth iteration.

Throughout its history, the Unreal Engine has maintained itself as one of the most popular development tools in the games industry. From its early days in the mid 90s, to its powerhouse performance as a games and film visual creation engine, the Unreal Engine has powered many of the most iconic video games over the course of nearly three decades--which includes Gears of War, BioShock, and Fortnite.

In this video, we're taking a look at the evolution of Epic Games' tech. Starting with 1996's Unreal Engine 1 tech demo, we look at how Epic Games' early tech revolutionized the rendering of 3D environments. Then after, we go over how Unreal Engine 2 took things further by adding improved lighting, detailed character animations, and a greater sense of depth in 3D spaces. From there, the video continues on, from Unreal Engine 3 all the way to the current day where we're now still awaiting the upcoming release of Unreal Engine 5, which adds more realistic visuals and lighting.

Along with this look back at the advances to the Unreal Engine, we've also published an extensive video on the evolution of PlayStation consoles. For more information on what's to come with the Unreal Engine 5, be sure to check back with GameSpot for more details.

0:00 Unreal Engine 1
0:22 Unreal Engine 2
0:52 Unreal Engine 3 (2004)
02:26 Unreal Engine 3 (2011)
03:49 Unreal Engine 4 (2013 PS4 Demo)
05:16 Unreal Engine 4 (2019)
06:31 Unreal Engine 5 (2021 PS5 Demo)
08:56 Metahuman Creator
Sure Unreal engine has be a success over the years, but either the engine, it's main product or the developer behind it had it's scandals over the years:

1) The first that comes to mind is the scandal around the doctored screenshots of Unreal 2 where they photoshopped the explosion graphics in some Unreal 2 screenshots.
2) The second one that comes to my mind is the Unreal Tournament 2003 to 2004 "upgrade program". For those who don't know: UT 2003 was announced as the legitimate successor to Unreal Tournament (1999) but then turned into a annual franchice by Epic. The 2004 sequel fealt like a rushed money grab for many, which is why they had this "upgrade program" where you could get UT 2004 for less money if you owned UT 2003.
3) The "Too Human" debacle where the developer of "Too Human" - a XBox 360 launch title - sued Epic alleging that Epic prioritized development of Unreal Engine 3 instead of supporting third party licensees.

Beyond those I can't think of any (unlress you want to count Epic Game Story exclusivity shenanigans), in fact I can only think of positives. For example the support for indie devs through dev grants, paying people who sell on the Unreal engine store more royalties after Fortine earned too much money etc.


Tim Sweeney the goat. People hate him for fortnite or the epic game store and they forget the guy created unreal engine practically by himself. And he started development and worked on ue4 alone for years.
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Unreal is great. I really like the modern iteration of it. There was a time during the Ps3/360 where almost every game made with it had this distinct "unreal engine" look to it.
But now there's definitely more variety and styles, from anime stuff like DQ11 and DBZ fighterz, cartoony stuff like Fortnite and Kingdom Hearts, retro stuff like Octopath and more realistic stuff like FF7 Remake, Gears or Hellblade.

The video is kinda crappy though. Could have had someone actually talking about the evolution of the engine instead of just pasting together a bunch of tech demos.


Can't wait for pes 2022 (superior football game) on UE5 next year. Hope they can utilize some version of UE's new metahuman creation tool for footballers.
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