What the Next Generation of Unreal Driving Games Could Look Like

A free demonstration of the Unreal Engine 5 based on the Matrix movie series has been released, and shows the immense potential of the next generation of UE based games.

In 1999, The Matrix was released to theatres and blew the minds of theatregoers worldwide. In 2021, The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience is blowing the minds of gamers.

The Matrix Awakens title is more of a showcase of what Unreal Engine 5 games will look like rather than being a true game, but it does allow PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S gamers to assume the controls and walk, fly or drive to explore the massive open world environment.

There are two reasons why this should appeal to sim racers and racing game fans. First, the Unreal Engine has been successfully implemented in many racing titles, ranging from the simulation-focused Assetto Corsa Competizione to the fun-focused Hot Wheels: Unleashed. Second, TMA allows you to drive any of the over 38,000 (that’s not a typo) vehicles parked around the map.

The result is nothing short of staggering. The visuals presented by The Matrix Awakens looks better than any title I’ve played in my life. If this UE5 demonstration had been limited to one city block or one building it would be impressive, but Epic Games has somehow packed in 250 kilometers of roads to explore across the 16 square kilometer map.

The Unreal Engine 5 shows massive improvements in the use of light, and the physics associated with the movement and interaction of soft objects is extremely impressive. In the context of driving, the physics of the soft objects has been implemented with the body of your vehicle, so the deformations from impacts to body work approaches the level of the best car damage models in gaming.

This is truly a mind-blowing experience. Of course, the implementation of this technology to games will yield varying results, but the graphics and physics possibilities of the Unreal Engine 5 are astonishing. Let’s hope our favourite racing game developers are taking a careful look at this engine for future titles.

What are your thoughts on the Unreal Engine 5 for racing games? Let us know on Twitter at @RaceDepartment or in the comments section below!
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604


It's things like this that make me wonder if Kunos will stick with UE for their next title. They've done the hard work of getting the engine working for sims and if UE gets more popular and easier to use they're ahead of the game.
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I don't know. Racing games need performance, because we often use Triples or 49inch. I would prefer a bit less eye candy in favour of physics, FFB, able to run 20+ AI and all that. I remember running ACC for the first time and I could barely hit 60fps. Even low settings were somewhat confusing. That was with my 1070 on a 34inch monitor back then.
what's the news? with the rain or cloudy there ara not big problem. The problem is the sunlight. Only Nurburgring in rFacto2 is very good
Nanite for static meshes is one of the biggest thing I have seen by far.... The ability to import 3d mesh models without fear of limitation and polygon count is an outstanding achievement. Everything about UE5 is mind-blowing. As always, with Unreal: Best of the best, on top of the rest ! :coffee:
Racing sims can't even get the single most important thing right - the simulated feel of the drive with ffb and physics.
Sector3 Studios is better at this than Kunos, but they don't have the latest graphics or official GT3 partnership. As for AMS2, never mind, RR, even Race 07 and GTR2 have much better feel.
It's telling the demo is for consoles only bc that's where the big bucks is for Kunos - graphics mad teenagers currently playing Forza. Most people at home have a big TV plus a laptop, and a console for the kids. That's the mass market. Wealthy car nerds who spend their free time indoors with a racing rig and a powerful PC must account for less than 1% of gamers.
I watched the whole demo on YT yesterday and was blown away. That engine with a high spec PC would be even better. The more trickery the graphic engines can do for graphics fidelity to leave the CPU free for physics the better.
The complete disaster that is nascar ignition actually runs pretty good with all the eye candy turned up on my 2080/49in 3840x1080 setup. A pretty solid 90fps, although I would prefer more frames than eye candy.

There's no denying they've got the gmotor engine plugged in underneath and running well on the physics side of things.

If that hack outfit is able to achieve decent graphic results, I would think a real sim dev team could do an even better job with the new UE engine.
Not to be a downer, but I don't really care about this. :unsure: I need enough visuals to not mostly see pixels like in Indycar Racing II or the original Papyrus Indianapolis 500, but otherwise, I'm flexible about visuals. NR2003, the original rFactor, GTR2... good enough for me -- I can see the track, trackside details, cars around me, their liveries.

BUT... give me a game that is a complete and minimally buggy experience on launch, a tire model with less 'exploits', more simulation of mechanical details of the cars' guts, cars with an better optimized driving experience without inconsistent feeling, immersive sounds, netcode that allows close racing and rubbing, and next-gen AI well-suited for the type of racing being simulated. And to my knowledge, none of that comes from Unreal Engine. If upgrading to new visual engines will divert developer effort from these features and continue to prevent us from truly advancing a great deal in the core car-related simulation aspects and game features beyond what we've already had for years -- as well as not having unfinished games with broken, buggy, or missing features -- I'd prefer devs focussed on those other things instead.

@Damage Inc does have a good point above, though. If this frees up the CPU for other calculations, that's good. That said, look at what GTR2 and NR2003 achieved with day-night cycle and AI back in the day... I'm not convinced we need more CPU resources, but instead more time and skillful dev effort to construct well-optimized games.
I'm a little hesitant to compare sims to these AAA games that can just hire thousands of artists to make the world look so detailed... yes the tech is neat but you can replicate most of the visuals in AC+CSP (probably not the bullet time bullet trails or explosions...) it's just expensive to put that level of detail in every building for a dozen kilometers.

And of course the cinematic segments would be motion capture off of actors & subject to usual film processes (manual focus, exposure, etc.) that you can't actually do during gameplay cause it's expert work.
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If you don't quite believe the hype check out this guy playing the demo on a PS5. At 10:30 he starts to free roam and that's what convinced me there's a generational leap to be had even on current gen hardware. He even looks down at one point to look at the road texture and it still looks photo realistic up that close.

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