Partway through the Unreal Engine 5 demo on PlayStation 5, the character squeezes through a rock crevice for a fair few seconds. Many viewers perceived it as a loading trick often seen in many games. Such a trick slows player progression in an enclosed space, allowing the game to load upcoming spaces and assets in the background. With talk of SSDs in next-gen platforms essentially doing away with loading screens, the rock squeezing in UE5’s demo didn’t go over well in some circles. However, that’s apparently not what was going on. Epic Games insists there was no loading; instead, that scene merely served as a way to show off the incredible graphical fidelity.
According to Epic Marketing Manager Dana Cowley, the demo’s original narration directly called out that no loading took place during the scene in question. These helpful lines failed to make the final cut, though. In a response to inquiries on Twitter, Cowley revealed the following,
You’re right, it wasn’t a loading trick at all. To avoid confusion we originally called out in the VO that the narrow cranny is meant to show the assets up close but those lines of dialogue didn’t make it into the final edit.
— Dana Cowley #UE5 (@danacowley) May 14, 2020
Jeff Farris, Epic’s Special Projects Technical Director, made a similar note on his own Twitter account. He added, “the squeeze served several purposes for us (close-in detail, animation, audio, demo flow), but we did have a tiny worry that folks would think it was necessary to hide loading. It wasn’t.”
Players will have to wait and see for themselves how well SSDs rid games of loading screens. Next-gen is still on schedule to kick off later this year when Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X hit stores this holiday season.