You know that amazing Unreal Engine 4 “Elemental” demo that’s been wowing us ever since GDC 2012? You can now download it and run it on your own PC. There are very few games that currently use UE4 (they’re all in the pipeline for release later in 2014 and 2015), so it’s a good opportunity to see how your gaming PC’s hardware deals with a next-gen engine. And yes, there is a built-in FPS counter — and I expect you all to share your rig’s FPS in the comments!
How to run the Unreal Engine 4 Elemental demo on your PC
First things first, we’re not entirely sure where these files came from. We know that they’re bundled with the Unreal Engine SDK that Unreal recently made available for a very cheap monthly fee. I suspect that someone with the SDK packaged up Elemental, uploaded it to Mediafire, and then a bunch of gaming forums (notably NeoGAF) picked it up. The files aren’t legit, but as they don’t contain any of the source code Unreal probably isn’t too bothered.
Anyway, to run the Elemental demo, all you need to do is:
- Download the UE4_Elemental_Demo.rar package mirrored by TechPowerUp (a slower Mediafire link is also available)
- Extract the package using something like 7zip
- You may have to install the Visual C++ 2013 redist runtime (vcredist2013_x64.exe for 64-bit CPUs or vcredist2013_x86.exe for 32-bit CPUs)
- Navigate to Elemental > Binaries, and then choose the right folder for your CPU (probably Win64)
- Run Elemental.exe As Administrator
- If you get stuck, Alt-F4 should close the demo
When the demo is running, use tilde ~ to open up the console. Stat FPS shows the FPS counter. SetRes 1920×1080 (or whatever) lets you set the resolution. For other settings, such as vsync, you need to visit Elemental > Saved > Config > WidnowsNoEditor and edit GameUserSettings.ini.
In full-screen mode it’s very hard to take screenshots (you’ll probably just get a black window). Screnshotting works in windowed mode, but I struggled to get the engine to reliably open up in a window.
Five more Unreal Engine tech demos
Along with the Elemental demo, which I’m sure will be used for benchmarking, some other UE4 demos have leaked out. NeoGAF posted links to a couple of demos, but TechPowerUp has again done an excellent job of packaging up five demos and posting them on a high-speed mirror. The TechPowerUp package includes the Effects Cave, Realistic Rendering, Reflections, Shooter Game, and Temple Mobile demos. These demos actually allow you to walk around and move the camera.
Let the benchmarking commence!
So, load up the Elemental demo, type in the Stat FPS console command, and check out your FPS.
On my own rig — Core i7-3770K @ 4.5GHz, Dual R9 290X — I generally averaged around 60 FPS at 1920×1080p. The big frost dude towards the end of the demo (pictured top) brought me down to around 45 FPS. Let me know in the comments what FPS your gaming rig gets.
I have no idea if antialiasing was turned on (there’s no options for it in the INI file at least). It’s also worth noting that the demo was compiled by some random dude on the internet, so it probably isn’t representative of finalized, fully optimized code. Still, it is rather pretty, and a very good indicator of how UE4 games will run on modern gaming PCs.
It’s worth pointing out that UE4 is also coming to the PS4 and Xbox One. Sadly (but understandably) it won’t look as good on the consoles — most notably, on the PS4, global illumination has been disabled, significantly reducing the “realism” of scenes (see video below). We still haven’t seen UE4 running on the Xbox One, but it’s unlikely to look any better than on the PS4.