This video of Unreal Engine 5 has crossed into the uncanny valley

Unreal Engine 5 train station

A train station that looks more real than real life

It feels like every few years, we all marvel at the new game graphics that are coming out and wondering to ourselves, “how could it get any better than this?” Somehow game devs still manage to one-up themselves every time, because I find myself yet again speaking those same words in awe and a little bit of existential dread. You see, I am quite afraid of the uncanny valley, and we have crossed so far into it that game graphics are indistinguishable from reality, thanks to Unreal Engine 5. We’ve seen some seriously convincing faces, but this is the first environment I’ve seen that has my jaw on the floor.

A short video surfaced yesterday on the r/gaming subreddit that featured an abandoned train station — it looks inconspicuous at first, which made me wonder what the big deal could be about this train station. The shaky camera pans around toward the tracks, and then suddenly everything switches to nighttime, and you realize that this entire thing is a digital rendering of a train station in Unreal Engine 5. I’m sorry, what now?

The generation of games after current one is going to be something worth to experience. from gaming

The way the light streams down the stairs, the way the fluorescent lights shine in the puddles on the ground, the way the flashlight bounces off the rusted metal walls, it’s all just a little bit too convincing for me. I’ve seen some really great graphics over the years, but this is the first time I’ve truly seen a video of something rendered in a game engine that I truly could not distinguish from real life or not.

So this train station is really impressive, but what does it mean for games using Unreal Engine 5 moving forward? These are easily the most impressive photorealistic graphics I’ve ever seen, but this was just a short, most likely pre-rendered video.

Would our consoles and PCs really be able to run something this advanced without melting through our furniture? Time will only tell, but one certainty still remains — I’m gonna stick to my stylized art styles, because this stuff gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Noelle Warner