From blockbuster sequels to a parade of new intellectual property, Epic reveals how Unreal Engine powered 80 games at this year’s E3 and speaks to some of the creators working with the tool
As it tends to do year in and year out, E3 has proven yet again to be a global stage for industry announcements, blockbuster reveals and games that unexpectedly win over the hearts and minds of players.
While the range of content on offer and the diversity in themes brought a variety of experiences to the show, many projects had one major thing in common: Unreal Engine technology.
In fact, 80 titles that were either announced, available for hands-on play, demonstrated during press conferences or viewed in or around the show floor were built using Unreal Engine.
This line-up included impressive titles such as The Coalition’s Gears of War 4, which opened the Xbox media briefing, and Days Gone, SIE Bend Studio’s newly-announced title that closed out the PlayStation press conference.
In addition, breakouts like We Happy Few, Tethered, Absolver, Farpoint and Raw Data have joined highly-anticipated games such as Sea of Thieves, LawBreakers and Abzu in bringing their vision to life with Unreal and being a part of the rapidly growing community that is embracing the engine.
“We couldn’t have done this in anything other than Unreal,” explains Sam Abbott, COO at We Happy Few creator Compulsion Games. “I just can’t believe how fast I can prototype and get things done.”
"There’s a lot of exploration to get Days Gone right – Unreal gave us a huge running start."
Chris Reese, Sony Bend
It turns out that speed matters for most developers as the rush to produce not only the game itself, but also a meaningful demonstration for E3, can stress a studio if they’re not effective and efficient with their time.
“It was a really easy decision for us, actually,” says Alan McDermott, whose Secret Sorcery Towers team is building PSVR launch title Tethered.
“We played around with other engines early on to try and find the best fit for us, but Unreal came out on top without any sweat whatsoever.
“The best thing about it for us was the prototyping phase. We wanted to fail fast and make sure that we made our mistakes quickly.
“Unreal Engine 4 removed all of the unnecessary questions about how we were going to build an engine, do graphics, render things; we didn’t have to worry about any of that. Unreal Engine unlocked all of that straight out of the box, allowing us to really focus on the creative side of things which, as a really small indie team – there’s only 14 of us – means you get the ideas across really quickly and make good decisions about what things are worth pursuing or not.”
While exploring ideas is essential to new game concepts, the ability to quickly iterate is equally as important for studios looking to deliver show-stopping demos. Such was the case with Sony Bend’s Days Gone, which ended the PlayStation press event with a stunning demo.
“This is the first time that we’ve actually taken on a different engine; all of the other engines we’ve used before have been our proprietary stuff that we’ve built in-house,” admits Bend director Christopher Reese.
Why switch to Unreal, then?
“Primarily, it’s an opportunity with the tools that Unreal has for the pipeline that empower our designers and artists to prototype,” Reese explains. “It’s a new IP so there’s a lot of exploration to get the concepts, theme and gameplay right – Unreal just gave us a huge running start.”
Naturally, Reese’s team is, ahem, bending UE4 to achieve the scenes that Days Gone presents, while working to make it a unique and masterful experience.
“We’re using a lot of the systems that are in Unreal Engine 4 and we’ve also modified it for the specific needs of the IP, but it’s a great engine that has a lot of excellent extensibility that allows us to do that.”
In addition to the massive presence that Unreal-powered games took up at the show, Epic once again presented the annual Unreal E3 Awards.
A neutral editorial staff selected all nominees and the winners, which included Rare’s Sea of Thieves (Biggest Buzz) and Tarsier Studios’ Statik (Most Immersive VR).
To read more about the awards and everything Unreal at E3, visit unrealengine.com/blog.