Sony and Epic Games just showed Microsoft how to overdo next-gen consoles


Today Epic Games announced Unreal Engine 5, the successor to the popular and successful game engine Unreal Engine 4.

The new engine will launch alongside next-gen consoles, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5. Along with these powerful gaming machines, Epic’s new engine will help usher in a new era of next-generation graphics in video games.

To illustrate how powerful this new engine is, Epic released a technical demo that runs in real time on a PS5. Watch the full presentation in the following video:

Unfortunately, it is only a demo and not a new game. I would play this game in an instant. It looks like a fantastic Tomb Raider, full of magic and flight that looks really amazing. Why has no one ever done a fantasy adventure game like this before? And why aren’t there more games with flight?

In any case, all of this serves to exaggerate next-gen graphics and the PS5 in particular more than anything else. Most people don’t care too much about game engines, although enough gamers make this really exciting to watch. Unreal Engine is one of the most used game engines, after all. Many studios will use Unreal Engine 5 for their next generation games.

All of this is in stark contrast to Microsoft’s highly publicized and rather disappointing third-party game showcase from about a week ago. Microsoft revealed a ton of new games and showed off game parts we’ve already heard of, but it did absolutely nothing to promote the next generation.

For one thing, these were all third-party games, so it almost certainly starts on other systems as well. But the big flaw was the fact that nothing on display really felt like the “next generation.” None of the games Microsoft showed looked better than the things we’re already playing now. Some looked worse.

Sony did not fall into the same trap. They haven’t shown any games at all yet, so the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo is the only thing we’ve seen on a PS5 thus far, and it’s stunningly beautiful, far beyond what we have on today’s modern consoles.

Sure, it’s not a game. Games probably won’t look like this anytime soon (although I have faith in Sony’s first-party talent, I can definitely see Naughty Dog making a game that looks so good for PS5). None of that matters. From a marketing perspective, we’ve now seen some really amazing graphics running on a PS5 and only very dingy graphics on Xbox Series X.

Clearly, that’s not a fair comparison, but marketing isn’t supposed to be fair. It’s about selling your console. This excites people about what to expect on the PS5, even if it’s just a tech demo, even if the games don’t look like this for a few more years.

In the meantime, maybe some entrepreneurial developer can turn this tech demo into a real game, or something like that? I would very much like to play a fantasy tomb Raider game full of magic and monsters and, most importantly, flying.

Flying where it doesn’t constantly overheat, making really fun game mechanics a chore.

But I digress.

The ball is on your court now, Microsoft.