Unreal Engine 5 Enters Early Access, Supports OpenXR via New VRTemplate

A year ago Epic Games unveiled the first details for Unreal Engine 5, its hugely popular videogame development engine. This week the company has announced the launch of Unreal Engine 5 Early Access for studios to begin playing with the new features, these include continued virtual reality (VR) support utilising the OpenXR framework.

While the announcement concentrates on the amazing fidelity videogames developers will be able to bring to future titles thanks to virtualized micropolygon system Nanite and its global illumination solution Lumen, tucked away in the release notes were some VR specific additions.

The Unreal Engine team has created a new VRTemplate utilising the OpenXR framework as a nice launch point for VR development. “The template is designed to be a starting point for all your VR projects. It includes encapsulated logic for teleport locomotion and common input actions, such as grabbing and attaching items to your hand,” says the release notes. So much so that Epic Games recommends that developers: “create your VR project using the VRTemplate in UE5, because the project settings and plugins are already configured for the best VR experience.”

Unfortunately, if you do create a VR project whilst Unreal Engine 5 is in Early Access then you won’t be able to use features like Lumen because its not supported at the moment. Hopefully, that’ll change in the future so VR titles will look as good as those sample screenshots. In any case, Early Access shouldn’t be used to build entire projects because UE5 is still in development, likely to officially release in early 2022.

Thanks to VRTemplate supporting the OpenXR standard, it should be easy for developers to bring their titles to various VR headsets. VRTemplate currently supports the following devices:

  • Oculus Quest 1 and 2
  • Oculus Quest with Oculus Link
  • Oculus Rift S
  • Valve Index
  • HTC Vive
  • Windows Mixed Reality

In addition to VR, Unreal Engine 5 will continue its support of augmented reality (AR), from hardware such as Magic Leap to ARKit and ARCore SDK’s.

As further features and improvements are rolled out for Unreal Engine 5 during Early Access, VRFocus will keep you updated.

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