Psyonix accidentally confirmed that Rocket League will be moving to Unreal Engine 5 in a job posting mid-last-year. The six-year-old car-football game still runs on Unreal Engine 3, holding it back from its graphical and gameplay potential. That's what makes today's article so important: let's take a look at Rocket League's shift to Unreal Engine 5, and what it means for the game...
This particular piece of news doesn't come completely out of the blue, so we do need to first establish a bit of context here. Rocket League is a very complicated game, with many moving components that form a cohesive and sophisticated physics system. This system is especially amplified by the importance of the game's ranking system, which features a distribution dominated by mid-high level players as of writing. To reinvent the wheel with a shift to an entirely new engine would be a giant move for Psyonix to make, hence this article.
Is Rocket League Moving To Unreal Engine 5?
We can confirm that Rocket League will be moving to Unreal Engine 5, as per a Psyonix job posting that leaked back in August 2021. The job posting was a bit of a surprising revelation, after months of Psyonix remaining tight-lipped on the possibility of Rocket League shifting to the superior engine. Rocket League and Psyonix had just been bought by Epic Games, so it was expected by many that such an announcement would have come soon after the game's free-to-play shift in 2020.
"The marketing department continues to build out its team in order to maintain and expand its ability to support Rocket League's ongoing initiatives, as well as future Psyonix projects including Rocket league: Sideswipe and Rocket League's move to UE5. The role would create a dedicated resource to all copy and messaging development needs within the marketing department." — Excerpt from Psyonix's Job Posting
The San Diego-based developers really let it slip here, didn't they? UE5 clearly stands for Unreal Engine 5, and thus we can say for certain that Rocket League will be getting Unreal Engine 5 in the future. We obviously don't know the timeline on the transition, but we can imagine that it is a while away, as they are only now hiring for the project. Months later, in fact (more than six months!), they still haven't given us any further indications of when this will all happen.
What Is Unreal Engine 5?
Unreal Engine 5 is the king of modern game engines, providing huge opportunities for developers to greatly improve the graphics, physics, and gameplay featured in their games. Developed by Epic Games, it is a very common and publicly available game engine. So, look: Rocket League still runs on Unreal Engine 3. Seriously – we are up to number five, guys, y'all need to catch up! Players have been calling for either a shift to Unreal Engine 5 or, perhaps, a Rocket League 2. Honestly, we're not in this for the graphics, we're in this for the gameplay: but in both cases, Unreal Engine 5 wins.
What Does Unreal Engine 5 Mean For Rocket League?
Unreal Engine 5 would certainly be a pretty big step up for Rocket League, upgrading the game to a more modern infrastructure. A move to Unreal Engine 5 would mean that many of the suggestions that players have made over the years could be implemented, due to more sophisticated and powerful software. Rocket League will be able to grow, expand, add fantastic new content, fix numerous problems, and Unreal Engine 5 will just generally make the game look a whole lot better.
Rocket League would be able to revamp its graphics, physics and gameplay. Massive changes would come to its physics (which we have detailed below), but more importantly, it would bring the classic car-football game into the new decade in style. Possibilities are nearly endless for Rocket League once it has migrated over to Unreal Engine 5, but it is important to remember that this would be a huge change and would - in many ways - be the equivalent of building a brand-new game. Things will be very different in the new version of Rocket League, hopefully for the better, but this may take some time to both make its way to our next-gen consoles and PCs, and to get used to once it has made that journey.
How Will Unreal Engine 5 Affect Rocket League's Physics?
Unreal Engine 5 will create far more consistent and accurate ball-touches in Rocket League. The new engine will reduce the physics timestep - think of it kind of like a refresh rate - from its current eight milliseconds to a level that will significantly change the way that the game's collisions work. This is both a good and bad thing. On one hand, Rocket League will have more accurate and fluid collisions and physics. But on the other hand, experienced players are now used to the way that the ball behaves and this will require a lot of skill re-learning over the following months.
This might result in delays to events like the RLCS, as players and teams scramble to get back up to scratch with the game. On the flip-side, though, with the increased performance and fidelity that Rocket League will have, players will have a much more enjoyable and reliable experience in this fantastic car-football game. Honestly, with a little bit of work Unreal Engine 5 will be a huge improvement on Rocket League's current situation, and that's only something to be excited about!