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Watch this: can you spot what’s weird about this unreal train station?

Unreal Engine 5 rendered scene of train station
(Image credit: Subjectn (YouTube))

Set your mind to ‘blown’ mode in preparation for watching a new clip aired on YouTube, which shows a train station platform that you’d assume was some banal footage filmed on a smartphone – until you realize that it is, in fact, computer generated using Unreal Engine 5 (UE5).

This rendered scene of someone wondering about a platform and nearby stairs, by day, and then night, looks so realistic in terms of the rendering and lighting that it’s scary – it’s not so much jaw-dropping as jaw-dislocating (and then some).

The creator notes that the environment, which is based on a real-world train station (as per the video title, the Etchū-Daimon station in Toyama, Japan), is running in Unreal Engine 5 and lit using Lumen, which is the game engine’s global illumination and reflections system (it boasts software ray tracing which doesn’t need a graphics card with hardware acceleration, though there is a hardware implementation too for Nvidia RTX and AMD RX 6000 GPUs).

As you might imagine, there are some serious ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ in the comment section, complete with plenty of praise for UE5.


Analysis: A truly stunning glimpse of the power of UE5

Not to go on about it too much, this really is breath-taking stuff – we had to watch the video several times to really take it in, the clip just feels so real, particularly the daylight parts (the realism is doubtless helped by the effect of the camera motion, which totally feels like someone waving a phone around). As the maker clarifies in the comments, it’s a rendering of a scene, rather than it running in real-time of course (as it would be if you were moving around an environment in-game).

However, it does run in real-time reasonably well – on a relatively modest PC, a rig which is built around a Ryzen 7 3700X and Nvidia RTX 2080 – hitting 30 frames per second (fps) to 50 fps at 1440p resolution with the daytime scene, but the image is less sharp and the overall quality not as good. That said, the creator also observes that the “scene isn’t optimized at all and I’m sure you could get much better, I just didn’t care much about performance.”

After watching this, obviously enough it’s easy to get excited about what kind of games we’re going to be experiencing in the not-too-distant future, when a full development team and all its resources leverage this kind of graphical power.

As to what the future holds in that regard, there are plenty of incoming UE5-based games, and some high-profile offerings too. STALKER 2 is an Unreal Engine 5 effort, and the next Witcher release will be built using UE5, plus there’s a Tomb Raider outing in the pipeline for the engine, too, as well as Redfall (from Arkane). Oh, and as we reported recently, maybe Gears 6 on top of that lot…

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).