Welcome To Unreal Engine 5 Early Access

Learn what to expect from the UE5 Early Access program.

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Unreal Engine 5 is the next major evolution of Unreal Engine, enhanced for the next generation of games, real-time visualizations, and immersive interactive experiences. It will empower game developers and creators across all industries to realize next-generation real-time 3D content and experiences with greater freedom, fidelity, and flexibility than ever before.

The UE5 Early Access release gives you the first chance to get your hands on these innovative new tools for next-generation game development. This Early Access release is aimed specifically at game developers who like to live on the bleeding edge. We're very excited to share an early look at new features coming in UE5, so you can better plan for your future projects and provide us with your valuable feedback.

However, the Early Access release is not production-ready. We recommend only using it for testing out new features, exploring the new capabilities, and prototyping your future next-gen games. For Early Access, we have first and foremost focused on pushing new capabilities, while we continue to work on optimization and multi-platform support.

We do not recommend using the Early Access release for production work.

Is Early Access Right for You?

You might want to consider trying UE5 Early Access if most or all of the following statements apply to you:

  • You are working on games or other similar interactive experiences.

    UE5 Early Access is intended to get disruptive new technologies into the hands of game studios as soon as possible, to aid in prototyping upcoming next-generation projects. However, the new features in UE5 Early Access have not yet been widely validated with customers for other workflows.

  • You already have significant experience with UE4.

    Users who are already familiar with UE4 should be able to transition their workflows to UE5 with relative ease. UE5 Early Access is also accompanied by the Valley of the Ancient project, which illustrates many of the compelling new features in a working gameplay sample. However, outside of this project, learning materials for Early Access will be limited compared with the depth and breadth of materials that exist for UE4. In addition, new features and workflows will continue to change over time from their current state. We therefore recommend that users who are completely new to Unreal start by learning UE4 until UE5 is production-ready.

  • You are planning a project for release in late 2022 or beyond.

    One of the principal aims of the Early Access release is to offer a first glimpse of the new features and workflows to game teams well in advance of their availability for production uses. This can help your team prepare to hit the ground running when UE5 reaches its production-ready release. If you're planning a release of your project sooner, in 2021 or in early 2022, we highly recommend that you continue to build on the solid and battle-tested foundation offered by UE4.

  • You don't mind the rough edges.

    UE5 Early Access is a snapshot of a rapidly moving target. Before we consider the features introduced in Early Access to be ready for production use, we have a significant amount of work to do on performance, stability, and polish. If your goal is to gain experience with new features and workflows to prepare for future projects, this should not slow you down. However, we want you to be aware that relying on the new features in UE5 Early Access may entail some unpredictable disruptions. The good news is that you can help to smooth these rough edges by reporting your experiences to help us improve them.

If most or all of the statements above are not true — for example, if you are just getting started with Unreal, if you are planning a near-term project, or if you need a stable and production-ready engine — feel free to experiment with Early Access, but we recommend that you continue to work in UE4 for now.

For additional background about Early Access, see the home page.

About the UE5 Early Access Documentation

The materials on this site are intended to give you an overview of what's included in the Early Access release, with enough details about the most significant new features for you to be able to try them out on your own.

The best place to look for general information about Unreal Engine and details on pre-existing features is still the UE4 documentation.

You can swap between the UE4 and UE5 documentation using the drop-down menu at the top left of your page.

Getting UE5 Early Access

There are two ways for most people to get UE5 Early Access:

If you are already a licensee with access to the Epic Games Perforce repositories, you can get the source code there instead.

Getting UE5 Early Access from the Epic Games Launcher

The easiest way to get the UE5 Early Access release is from the Epic Games Launcher.

  • Use this option if you want to download pre-compiled binaries that are ready for you to use immediately.

  • Do not expect regular major updates to these pre-compiled binaries. Epic may or may not release hotfixes or other updates over time, but we do not plan to significantly expand the Early Access feature set until the production release of UE5.

To download UE5 Early Access through the Launcher:

  1. Download and install the Epic Games Launcher, if you don't have it already.

  2. Run the Launcher and sign in with your Epic account.

  3. Select the Unreal Engine section from the left-hand menu.

  4. Look for the Unreal Engine 5 Early Access tab.

  5. Follow the link to Download Early Access.

Getting UE5 Early Access from GitHub

You can download the UE5 Early Access source code from GitHub.

  • Use this option if you want to make your own changes and updates to the engine source, or if you want up-to-the-minute access to the latest commits made by the Unreal Engine development team as UE5 progresses toward its production release.

  • However, you will need to compile the engine yourself from source.

The basics of using GitHub for Unreal Engine are the same as for 4.x releases. For details, see the most recent UE4 documentation.

For Early Access, sync to one of the following branches:

  • ue5-early-access — This branch contains the same source code used to build the pre-compiled binaries available through the Launcher. Use this branch if you want to work with a stable and QA-tested version of the new UE5 features as they appear in the Early Access release. We may or may not add fixes and improvements to this branch over time.

  • ue5-main — This branch is the main development trunk for UE5. Use this branch if you want the very latest commits made by Epic engineers as UE5 progresses from Early Access to its eventual production release. However, be aware that this branch comes with an increased risk of instability and disruption.

Once you have the source, building UE5 Early Access is exactly the same as UE4. For details, see the most recent UE4 documentation. The only difference is that Visual Studio 2015 and 2017 are no longer supported. You must use Visual Studio 2019 (v16.4 or greater).

Getting UE5 Early Access from Perforce

If you are already a licensee with access to the Epic Games Perforce repositories, you can get the source code in the following streams:

  • //UE5/Release-5.0-EarlyAccess — This stream contains the same source code used to build the pre-compiled binaries available through the Launcher. Use this stream if you want to work with a stable and QA-tested version of the new UE5 features as they appear in the Early Access release. We may or may not add fixes and improvements to this stream over time.

  • //UE5/Main — This stream is the main development trunk for UE5. Use this stream if you want the very latest commits made by Epic engineers as UE5 progresses from Early Access to its eventual production release. However, be aware that this stream comes with an increased risk of instability and disruption.

Once you have the source, building UE5 Early Access is exactly the same as UE4. For details, see the most recent UE4 documentation. The only difference is that Visual Studio 2015 and 2017 are no longer supported. You must use Visual Studio 2019 (v16.4 or greater).

Compatibility

UE5 Early Access represents a new and separate development path that will exist in parallel to the upcoming 4.27 release. It should be compatible with previously issued 4.x releases, but it is not guaranteed to be compatible with future 4.x releases.

Early Access compatibility

Some general principles:

  • You should be able to upgrade projects made with UE 4.26 or earlier releases to UE5 Early Access. Your existing content should work relatively smoothly, apart from the upgrade requirements and deprecations listed in the Migration Guide.

  • When UE 4.27 is released, do not expect projects or content that you create in 4.27, or that you upgrade to 4.27, to work in UE5 Early Access.

  • The eventual production release of UE 5.0 will be compatible with content from both UE 4.27 and UE5 Early Access.

  • Do not expect to be able to downgrade UE5 projects or content into any version of UE4.

Target Platforms and Devices

UE5 Early Access supports the same target platforms and devices supported by UE4, with the following exceptions:

  • Support for 32-bit platforms has been removed.

  • UE5 Early Access now supports Apple Silicon devices as a native runtime target. (Note, however, that the Unreal Editor runs translated through Rosetta 2 as an Intel binary.)

  • Not all new features currently work on all platforms. For example, Lumen and Nanite do not currently support mobile devices or last-generation consoles, and require an NVIDIA or AMD GPU on PC. Platform and GPU support for new features may or may not change between Early Access and the production release of UE5.

    For more information on the current platform limitations by feature, see the Release Notes page and the detailed documentation on each individual feature.

    For the list of supported systems and SDK versions for all target platforms, see the Platform SDK Upgrades section of the Release Notes.

Hardware Requirements for Development

Basic hardware requirements for working with Unreal Engine 5 Early Access are unchanged from UE4. For details, see the most recent UE4 documentation.

However, some of the new features in Early Access will require higher-end hardware to get best results.

For example, to get the most out of Nanite and Lumen, we currently recommend the equivalent of an NVIDIA GTX 1080, AMD VEGA 64, or better. We also recommend upgrading to the latest drivers for your GPU.

We are continuing to work on improvements to performance and quality, and to test on a wider range of configurations. Therefore, recommendations may change over time during the Early Access period, and are likely to change for the eventual production release.

Giving Feedback and Getting Help

One of the goals for releasing UE5 in Early Access is to kickstart a dialogue with our user community about new features and future directions. Hearing this early feedback will be invaluable for the Unreal Engine development team to make the engine work better for you.

We hope that you will help us by reporting your experiences, good and bad.

  • For all discussions around the product feature set, feature designs, and future plans, please use our community forum.

  • You can report behavior that is definitely a bug using our public issue tracker.