Epic Games Demonstrates Real-Time Ray Tracing in Unreal Engine 4

Epic Games Demonstrates Real-Time Ray Tracing in Unreal Engine 4

Epic Games Demonstrates Real-Time Ray Tracing in Unreal Engine 4

The goal of GPU creators has always been to bring cinema-quality visuals into the home, delivering smooth gameplay experiences while pushing the envelope to leave gamers spellbound by the levels of graphical quality on display. 

During Epic Games’ “State of Unreal” session at GTC 2018, the company revealed a collaboration with both Nvidia and ILMxLAB (Industrial Light and Magic’s xLAB).  Together they created a short Star Wars film within Unreal Engine 4 which utilises the real-time Ray Tracing from Microsoft’s DXR extension for DirectX 12 and Nvidia’s RTX technology. 

What Epic Games has showcased here is a film quality real0time rendering, which uses assets from both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi within Unreal Engine alongside the following “next-generation rendering features”.

– Textured area lights
– Ray-traced area light shadows
– Ray-traced reflections
– Ray-traced ambient occlusion
– Cinematic depth of field (DOF)
– NVIDIA GameWorks ray tracing denoising

Epic built the computer-generated (CG) scene using assets from Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi featuring Captain Phasma, clad in her distinctive armor of salvaged chromium, and two stormtroopers who run into her on an elevator on the First Order ship. In the tech demo, lighting is moved around the scene interactively, as the ray-traced effects including shadows and photorealistic reflections render in real time. The stunning image quality of highly reflective surfaces and soft shadows has never before been achieved at such a high level of image fidelity in Unreal Engine.


The quality of this short video is beyond what can be seen in any game today, so much so that many viewers will doubt that this scene is possible in real-time. Regardless this showcases the bright future that ray tracing brings to computer graphics, where reflections, shadows and ambient occlusion are all accurate and provide filmic visuals within games. 

Epic Games plans to add support for Nvidia’s RTX Technology and Microsoft’s DXR features within their mainline builds of Unreal Engine later this year. 

You can join the discussion on Epic Games’ demonstration of real-time ray tracing using Star Wars Assets on the OC3D Forums.