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We probably won't be seeing a new fighting game use Unreal Engine 5 anytime soon

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • April 6, 2022 at 2:14 p.m. PDT • Comments: 21

As fans of the genre likely came to realize, the Unreal Engine 4 ended up powering most of the largest fighting games of this past generation from Street Fighter 5 and Tekken 7 to Guilty Gear Strive and The King of Fighters 15.

It's looking like we may be waiting quite a while, however, to see its successor the Unreal Engine 5 begin to pick up steam for the next generation of fighters.

Following the engine's public release yesterday, video game journalist Geoff Keighley shared an image from IGN showcasing the long list of developers that are currently making games in UE5, and none of them make fighting games.

In fact, there doesn't appear to be a single Japanese developer among them at all (unless you want to count PlayStation), which is curious seeing as there is official Japanese documentation for the new game engine.

The only one that could conceivably be a fighter is the listing of Microsoft and Rare, which could point to the rumored Killer Instinct sequel, though we aren't exactly holding our breath on that right now.

This likely means that even if a fighting game developer does pick up UE5, it won't release until years from now unless the studio goes through the process of porting a project over from UE4.

With no Bandai Namco, SNK, Arc System Works or NetherRealm Studios featured on the list, it creates a potentially stark difference to our current selection of fighters.

Unreal Engine 4 didn't begin to be widely adopted until 2014, but it'd be just a year later that the first 2 fighting games would release using the software between Rising Thunder and Tekken 7 followed by Street Fighter 5 in 2016.

That would expand out over the coming years to include other Japanese developers like the aforementioned ArcSys and SNK plus Arika, pretty much encapsulating all of the fighting games using 3D graphics coming out of the region eventually.

Admittedly, UE4 got off to a bit of a rough start with fighting games thanks to Street Fighter 5's infamous 8 frames of lag and Tekken 7 facing something very similar, but that was updated to the point that we now have some titles with less than 3 frames of input delay on PlayStation 4.

Of course, fighting game players have noticed a new issue arise from UE4 more recently with titles like Guilty Gear Strive and The King of Fighters 15 showing higher amounts of input lag on PlayStation 5 than PS4.

Hopefully, Unreal Engine 5 doesn't face the same problems for the genre.

One potential explanation for the lack of Japanese representation is some of the region's largest publishers using resources to develop their own internal engines to avoid paying licensing fees to Epic.

We've seen that with Square Enix and Capcom for example, who appear to be using their own RE Engine to create the upcoming Street Fighter 6.

For smaller studios like ArcSys and SNK, however, they likely won't have those same resources and will eventually need to make the switch to UE5 or something else.

Considering places like NetherRealm were still using the Unreal Engine 3 as late as 2019, we may see some developers stick with their known software for years to come too.

As for what the Unreal Engine 5 will have to offer for devs and players, Epic is touting its impressive Lumen dynamic illumination tool where light adapts to worlds more naturally as well as Nanite, which reportedly allows game makers to import film-quality visual assets to a title while maintaining performance.

These features were both shown off in the UE5 tech demos released last year.

For the time being, the UE4 will continue to power current titles like KOF15 and Strive plus the upcoming DNF Duel, but beyond that lies largely a mystery.

Judging by the wide adoption of the previous tech, the first fighting game to use Unreal Engine 5 is a matter of when and not if, but that when could be a ways out.

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