Meta is transitioning its support from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5.1 for apps built for the Quest platform. Two of the engine’s headlining features aren’t designed for mobile though, so it’s doubtful we we’ll ever see them on Quest.

In a dev blog post announcing the news, Meta says developers who choose to work with Epic’s game engine should start thinking about using UE5 for their Quest apps. The company isn’t advising devs to upgrade to UE5 if in the middle of a project though; apps based on UE4 can still be distributed to the Meta Quest Store or App Lab.

Still, the clock is ticking. Meta will support critical bug fixes for UE4 until the end of 2023, although devs can access UE4 resources and documentation on Meta’s GitHub repository even after the support is scaled back.

As you’d imagine, Meta says the original 2019 Quest won’t be supported—it’s unceremoniously getting pushed off into the sea—however the company is slated to provide separate binaries for each device soon, which will allow developers targeting Quest 1 an upgrade path. Notably, OpenXR is the only VR API supported by Meta in UE5.

No Nanite or Lumen

Unfortunately, two of the biggest features of Epic’s latest and greatest aren’t coming to the company’s standalone headsets. Released in April 2022, UE5 packs in two new tools called Nanite and Lumen.

Nanite is a virtualized geometry system which uses a new internal mesh format and rendering technology to render pixel scale detail and high object counts.

It essentially works like a continuous Level of Detail (LOD) system that draws detail from the original ‘master’ 3D model. In its developer documentation, Epic Games says Nanite can increase an app’s geometry complexity, higher triangle and objects counts by “multiple orders of magnitude.”

Here’s a look at what Nanite can do for VR games, courtesy of YouTube channel ‘Smart Poly’:

Lumen, the engine’s new dynamic global lighting system, also makes virtual environments look better, as it can use both software and hardware ray tracing for more realistic lighting.

And why not on Quest 2 or Quest Pro? Nanite and Lumen simply aren’t built to work on mobile processors, and don’t support Android at all.

Nanite is currently supported on a host of devices, including PS5, Xbox Series S|X, and PCs with even the most-humble of Maxwell-generation graphics cards. PS4 and Xbox One also support Nanite, albeit experimentally.

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Lumen on the other hand is developed for PS5 and Xbox Series S|X, and high-end PCs. Software ray tracing can be done on NVIDIA GeForce GTX-1070 or higher cards, while hardware ray tracing must be on NVIDIA RTX-2000 series or higher, or AMD RX-6000 series or higher. Not even PS4 or Xbox One.

Moreover, Epic says in Lumen’s documentation that there are “no plans to develop a dynamic global illumination system for the mobile renderer. Games using dynamic lighting need to use unshadowed Sky Light on mobile.”

Without direct support from Epic, Meta has little other choice. Granted, many VR creators opt to develop in Unity thanks to its relative simplicity for smaller teams and greater overall market share, meaning more assets and general know-how to go around.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Tommy

    What are the advantages that a Quest 2 could take advantage of by using UE4 vs UE5?

    • ViRGiN

      Just long term support. But ue5 is basically unproven for vr – isn’t pavlov the only game currently using it? And it looks just like it did on ue4 with extremely minor changes. They were still incapable of updating the game for quest or pc, just psvr2.

      • Tommy

        Ahh, got ya.
        Didn’t know about Pavlov. I used to like that game but found a better one.

  • Eric Wescott

    Any idea why they aren’t including late latching?

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    Evil Zuck is changing priorities away from VR/AR to AI: “Roughly a year-and-a-half after Facebook renamed itself “Meta” and said it would go all-in on building a future version of the internet dubbed the metaverse, the tech giant now says its top investment priority will be advancing artificial intelligence.”

    • bluetoothbday

      You got that from thrillseeker I didn’t believe some people were dumb enough to believe a single word that snake oil salesmen says.

      • Ookami

        What has he ever done to you? Just because his opinion differ he’s a snake-oil salesman?

        • ViRGiN

          he doesn’t have opinions you idiot, he has agenda.
          he hypes every turd and lies about his connection to product. just like he did with vail which flopped spectacularly and he just stopped covering it xD

          • Ookami

            You can’t even point to a single sourced lie he said. People like you always accuse him of pushing Vail out Deca, all while conveniently ignoring that he’s always shown complete transparency and advised caution when it comes to unreleased products.
            He always pointed out his possible bias with Vail and hasn’t actually made a false claim about it (unlike a certain Meta with their “Metaverse”). And he always told people to not trust claims about unreleased products until people have them in hand.
            He couldn’t make it more clear, but I guess it’s as they say: you can’t fix stupid

          • ViRGiN

            what transparency? it took him months to admit he is an “advisor” to vail vr, a vr fps, a genre he has ZERO interest or experience about. he is a vrchat weeb who thinks steamvr trackers adoption is the missing puzzle from WIDESPREAD adoption of vr alltogether. he never does anything beyond spending time in vrchat quest-graded world marked as pc exclusive with his fellow tail-wigglers

          • Ookami

            Wow that’s amazing. Everything you said was false. Especially that second part which is just completely out of nowhere.

          • ViRGiN

            Can be something more “especially” when it comes to a lie? It’s either a lie or not. And you just said thrillseeker was not a paid “advisor” as he said it himself to vail vr?
            He did not get paid to appear on stage during vail miami tournament?

          • Ookami

            Lol now you’re putting words in my mouth. Thrillseeker was upfront about his involvement in Vail from the beginning. That’s not lying that’s literally being transparent.

          • ViRGiN

            So you’re saying in his very first video where he talks about Vail he said he is being involved and paid for this?

      • Ookami

        Now officially confirmed by Meta’s CTO:
        “Zuckerberg is spending MOST of his time on AI”

        • ViRGiN

          do you masturbate to every ‘meta lied and is failing hahaha’ gossips?
          you probably hang out with all the big vr cringetubers.

          • Ookami

            lol so my last comment got you so bad you decided to go into my post history a day later. That’s hilarious

          • ViRGiN

            more like roadtovr decided to reappear on front page but ok, retard

          • Ookami

            Of course that’s it lol
            Would’ve been more convincing if you don’t reply to several of my old comments instead of just one

          • ViRGiN

            it’s all literally under same url. retard.

          • Ookami

            “Retard” isn’t interchangeable with a period you know. You don’t have to end every single sentence with it lol

  • Arno van Wingerde

    Damn! No raytracing @120 Hz on Quest2… pure discrimination!

  • timothytripp

    I understand why they’re not support Lumen, but not having Nanite is a huge blow. With a single asset instead of multiple level of detail variants of each asset, VR will be amazing, as the player could decide how close they want to get to something while the engine dynamically lowered the LoD for objects as they were either far away, out of center or with eye tracking, in the center of the foveated rendering. I hope this comes to Quest at some point either through another update or even in the Quest 3, assuming the XR2+ processor and more baseline RAM.

    • Cburn

      yeah this is actually confusing to me, perhaps since the quest made games are supposed to be fairly small compared to full fledged pc vr titles they just would prefer everyone to keep their textures in check, or else game sizes would bloat to 50-100gb and the quest could only hold 1 or 2 games at that level

      • timothytripp

        Good point. I’m not saying they would increase the resolution of the max texture LoD, but Nanite would let tesselation work for increasing polygon count and they wouldn’t need to even make or distribute the lower LoD models and textures. I would expect total game size to go down substantially.

    • Peter vasseur

      Quest 3 isn’t going to have eye tracking. So it’s wont be coming to it. Maybe quest 6 might be powerful enough in 10-15 years

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Unity thanks to its relative simplicity for smaller teams and greater overall market share, meaning more assets and general know-how to go around.
    How is UE more complex gor smaller teams as unity? More assets? I really wonder where you base that statement on.

    • James Cobalt

      I’m not sure about the simplicity for smaller teams comment as I’ve never used Unity Teams. But Unity does have more commercially available assets and other resources for developers to use – both in and outside its official marketplace. That said, Unreal comes with free, high quality assets Unity can’t come close to thanks to the spectacular Megascans library.

  • BCCDude

    Someone please enlighten me… what does “officially support an engine” really mean? Weren’t there already games, albeit rare, made in UE? (Like Moss?)

    • Sven Viking

      They’d be made in UE4. Really seems too early to me to be talking about stopping UE4-related bugfixes.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    LOL, it’s like buying Nvidia card without Ray tracing and DLSS.

    What’s the point?

    • Anonymous

      The point is, at least those wanting to make games on UE5 can bring it to the Quest, the only profitable VR platform.

      Why is it Meta’s fault that Epic choose to let neither support Android in the first place?

      • Till Eulenspiegel

        UE5 is optimized for Sony, they paid Epic over a billion – it will only run perfectly on PS5 and PSVR2.

        • ApocalypseShadow

          Yeah it’s going to look great on PS VR 2 when development really starts pumping in games and VR for third parties. That great Sony investment that some of these gamers forget. They thought hard on the console, the sound, the controllers, the headset, the third party engines making developing easier.

          Maybe something will happen on Quest 3 UE5 support. But definitely not 2. 2 is going to die quick when when 3 shows up. Just like Quest 1.

          • Till Eulenspiegel

            Meta wasted 10 billion on that Metaverse when it could have been invested in better things.

          • ApocalypseShadow

            Correct they are selling a device that gamers picked up but aren’t building games consistently. Just readying their features for horizon but expect gamers to keep buying the next headset.

            All that money they are spending should have been in acquiring game content.

  • When you say Nanite is supported on PS5 and Xbox, PC, etc. you are only talking about desktop games – not VR games. It’s too early to support Lumen or Nanite in VR apps for Quest OR ANYONE else. It’s still amazingly buggy for VR. Perhaps when we reach 5.3. No major developer is using Nanite or Lumen in published VR apps at the moment – across the industry. So Meta is not taking away anything. The videos you posted are just people testing it out in VR. It’s not stable enough for anything real. I’ve tried to get it working myself. Unless you want to buy and play apps that crash constantly, you should be thankful. 5.1 has enough amazingly stuff in it. Lumen and Nanite will come to VR later. They’re only for non VR PC and console devices for now.

    • ApocalypseShadow

      When it does get up and running smoothly, PS5 will be the one to benefit. In flat and VR games. Sony’s not investing millions into Epic for nothing. And they didn’t demo UE5 first for PS5 for nothing. Or put out a Matrix demo for nothing. They won’t have to build large cities. The smaller scale games will look highly detailed pretty soon. Besides Sony’s own in-house engines.

      PC should see some side benefit because of Sony’s investment. Maybe Quest 3 might see something.

  • Brian Elliott Tate

    The article makes it sound like it’s just Epic Game’s lack of porting Lumen and Nanite for mobile hardware that’s the issue. Lumen is a form of ray tracing. Nanite has a crazy high fixed cost the way it’s designed. The issue is just that mobile hardware isn’t powerful enough to really build anything on it yet. Even many consoles and PC’s aren’t really powerful enough yet.

    There are examples of getting really simple demo projects using Nanite working on the Quest though. It really isn’t a matter of “Epic just needs to do more” and more of the fixed costs of using that architecture (and mobile hardware hasn’t really met those requirements yet)

    • Baldrickk

      You can see from the video that even on the best PC you can build right now, the framerate is absolutely AWFUL.
      It’s really not ready for release in any title, on any VR platform, yet alone a mobile one.

  • “Nanite” is just the latest optimization of something the Unreal engine has done since UT2003, which is real-time LOD generation. They.. um.. “Borrowed” the idea the ancient game “Messiah”. Even though Nanite can handle much larger models, you still have access to real-time LOD generation in UE4. It works, alright. I think it puts extra work on the CPU to reduce the model, so it doesn’t gain as much as one would hope.

    I would say, at great distances, you should always try to replace your objects with 2D decals. That little trick helps worlds with optimization!

  • Noll

    This last bullet points hurts so much, if you know you know –

    UE5 removed CPU occlusion culling. Apps that rely on this must
    implement a custom occlusion system or switch to GPU occlusion culling.
    GPU culling has a few significant downsides you need to be aware of:

    UE5 renders the results a frame late, so you’ll see emptiness for one frame if you phase through a wall.

    culling causes more work for the GPU for things the system used to do
    on the CPU, which can potentially result in worse performance for very
    GPU-limited apps.

  • Reu Scherf

    Give it a couple years, the VR hardware coming out now is getting better and better. Next gen mobile chips will be much better. Still in beta period of VR hardware.

  • Rupert Jung

    AFAIK Lumen and Nanite still don’t have any official VR support _at all_. You can get it to work but there will be no optimization for stereo rendering.