When compared to something like film or music, the video games industry has been relatively short. Still, the technology that we enjoy today has grown significantly in just a few decades, with new advances pushing things along all the time.
With Unreal Engine 5 having recently come out, developers are going to continue to pump out some stunning games. As one of the most popular engines in the world, its impact has been felt for years, but sometimes it’s good to look back to where it all started.
That’s what YouTuber Cycu1 has done. A recent video of theirs shows an early tech demo of the very first Unreal Engine, which goes all the way back to 1995.
Even when using a modern PC with an RTX 3080 graphics card, the footage itself does look quite crude when compared to modern standards. However, given that this was an engine that was being built just a year after Doom 2 came out, it would have been impressive at the time.
It was also used to power the first Unreal game from 1998, hence the name. For comparison, this was the same year that Valve released Half-Life, and a year after id Software launched Quake 2. Unreal Engine 1 might not look like much today, but this was the start of something that has become a mainstay in video game development ever since.
To put it into some perspective, here’s what The Matrix Awakens looks like on Unreal Engine 5. Even for now, this is incredible use of some very powerful technology, giving the demo an almost lifelike appearance.
For those of us who were around at the time of early first-person shooters, seeing something like what Cycu1 has shown would have been spectacular. Of course, this was over two and half decades ago.
It’s certainly a far cry from the likes of the aforementioned Matrix Awakens tech demo that was shown off last year. Not to mention the slew of games that will be also be getting powered by Unreal Engine 5. What Cycu1 has captured here is a brief window into gaming history, when studios were small and budgets were significantly less.
This not only shows what was happening in the world of game development, as well as how far along the technology has come, but it also makes us ponder what will come next. Hopefully, it will make us appreciate the kind of ingenuity that has gone into making it possible to enjoy the games we do today.