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Brace for impact, people! The big one is on the way! I'm sure most of us remember The Samaritan demo show cased at GDC 2011, which revealed how amazing the graphics produced by Unreal Engine 3 were. The presentation was breath-taking as the machine used to run the game utilized three over-clocked Nvidia GTX 580s in SLI to show how far the engine could take a video game with the right amount of power. But now, after just a year, Epic Games is coming out with its next-gen engine, already being used in next-gen hardware.

It wasn't too long ago we saw Epic Founder, Tim Sweeney, talking about how Unreal Engine 4 would revolutionize gaming. Add things we've never seen before. Because the engine was to be so advanced, it would take a long time to develop and it's debut was scheduled to happen sometime in 2014. Well, here we are in 2012, two years ahead of schedule, and according to Epic's vice president, Mark Rein, the road map for then engine has changed. Unreal Engine 4 will be debuted sometime before the end of this year. In what way? No one is sure, but hey, it's still coming.

I'm not sure if it's really necessary, as consoles haven't reached the next-gen phase yet as well as most PC gamers not even owning strong enough hardware to run UE3 to its maximum potential, much less UE4. However, according to a statement Sweeney made way back in 2008, Unreal Engine 4 will "exclusively target the next console generation." Perhaps 2014 was the original prediction for when the next console generation would happen. But with all the rumors floating around for the next-gen phase to start in 2013, perhaps they want Unreal Engine 4 to be ready to go by the end of 2012.

If Unreal Engine 4 was to target next-generation consoles, they would definitely have to be a lot more powerful than the ones we have now. According to Sweeney, UE3 utilizes about 2.5 teraflops of power to run at the highest level. The Xbox 360, only generates about .25 teraflops of power. Based off of that knowledge alone, we're going to want the next-gen Xbox to be about eight times more powerful than the current generation. That's a lot to ask for, but I'm sure UE4 will have some sort of scaling technology so one may scale down the graphics to the console's maximum capabilities without sacrificing a whole lot of eye candy. Frostbite 2.0 did that with Battlefield 3, so I'm sure Epic will think things through.

Little is known about what games are going to be created using UE4 or how powerful the engine even is, but if it's any stronger than UE3 , prepare for shock and awe. Now we just need Crytek to unveil their next-gen engine as well, so we'll have a whole new set of engines waiting for the rise of the next-gen gaming era.

Incase you haven't seen it, here's The Samaritan video.


[Video by IGNentertainment]

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