Earlier this week, Epic Games formally announced and revealed Unreal Engine 5, the next iteration of one of the most widely-used engines in the gaming world. The engine will launch in 2021 and is primarily focused on powering the games of the next-generation on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC. However, Epic also confirmed that UE5 would also come to mobile platforms and current generation systems. It was unclear if the Switch was being put under the label of “current-gen” systems since it is weaker than even that of an Xbox One. However, Eurogamer has reached out to Epic and confirms that Unreal Engine 5 truly is coming to the Switch.
Unsurprisingly, Eurogamer does mention that the high-fidelity visuals that UE5 is capable of producing are going to be toned down on lower-end hardware, like the current systems. And with the Switch being bottom of that barrel, there will be a noticeable gulf between a UE5-powered game on Switch versus PS5/Xbox Series X.
Powering the future
Nintendo recently mentioned that the Switch is “barely in the middle of its life cycle”, so that means we can expect Switch development to continue until at least 2023. That being said, it will be interesting to see how developers are able to utilize the Switch’s power as they also begin to release projects on next-gen platforms.
Some gamers are already beginning to grumble about this, however, pointing to the Switch’s weaker hardware as being too underwhelming to support Unreal Engine 5.
While I’m no developer myself, I can say from what I do know, we should be happy that Epic is going through with making sure Switch is supported. This shows that Nintendo and Nvidia did a good enough job at making sure the system’s architecture would be future-proofed. And, it also shows that, despite its power being limited, the Switch still has enough of a punch for developers to continue tinkering away with it for the next few years. Major optimizations will have to be made to get games to run well on the system, but this has always been the case. But, it’s also a testament to Epic’s engineering. The fact that UE5 can run on something as powerful as a next-gen system, to as modest as a smartphone shows how flexible the engine is. So, as long as developers put some effort into optimization, we can expect to see at least a decent amount of games spanning across the different power levels of all the different platforms.