Watch this: dev creates Starfield demo in Unreal Engine 5 – and it looks amazing

A developer has created a short Unreal Engine 5 demo inspired by Starfield and Mass Effect 4, giving us a glimpse of what upcoming space RPGs might look like.

Pasquale Scionti, senior lighting designer and Lookdev artist at development studio Ninja Theory, created the demo as a riff on Starfield and Mass Effect 4 ahead of their launches. They shared the minute and a half video on Twitteralongside some choice screenshots.

The demo shows a lone astronaut walking on a sepia-tinted planet that looks like Mars. A small flying vehicle hovers nearby, while a meteor shower rains down in the sky. Towards the end of the video, the cosmonaut approaches what looks like a stationary spacecraft, albeit with many appendages.

The clip really shows what the Unreal Engine 5 can do. The vast alien landscape is rendered in quite fascinating detail, and its scale is impressive. But it’s obvious that Scionti’s talents are in the lighting. The reflections from the astronaut’s spacesuit are dazzling and the cloudy sky looks like it was ripped straight from a photograph. You can watch the clip for yourself below.

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A tantalizing tease

Although the demo is a fan-made project that has no official association with Bethesda or BioWare, it offers an interesting glimpse into what triple-A video games like Starfield and Mass Effect 4 could one day look like.

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Starfield director Todd Howard described the upcoming sci-fi RPG as “Skyrim in Space” in an interview with The Washington Post. But if it looks like this tech demo, it will be so much more than that. Gone are the low resolution textures and blocky character models; Unreal Engine 5 enables developers to create games at an unparalleled level of graphical fidelity.

So it’s a shame that Starfield doesn’t use Epic’s new engine, but rather Bethesda’s in-house Creation Engine 2. With no Starfield gameplay to watch, we haven’t yet been able to see exactly what this engine is capable of. Here’s hoping it can match, or at least come close to what Unreal Engine 5 can accomplish. Now that Starfield has been delayed, we’ll have to wait until 2023 to find out.

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Mass Effect 4, however, is being developed using Unreal Engine 5, so it’s not entirely impossible that BioWare’s next RPG will look like what Scionti has created here. Of course, as a full game rather than a small demo, it won’t quite reach the same heights of graphical brilliance, having to scale down its visual characteristics for smooth frame rates. But it’s still a tantalizing prospect.

Unreal Engine 5 demos arrived in droves and quickly. Skyrim’s Riverwood was recently redesigned in the engine, which made our jaws drop. Another Unreal Engine 5 tech demo showed off what Cyberpunk 2077 could have looked like, delivering a stunning take on Night City. There’s plenty to be excited about as the developers push the software to its limits.

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