Unreal Engine update could fix PC games – and make gaming MacBooks more likely

Gaming on a MacBook
(Image credit: Hopix Art / Shutterstock)

Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, has updated its Unreal Engine tool that’s used in many of the best PC games around, and it could help reverse the recent trend of messy PC ports – while also potentially making Apple’s MacBooks and Macs more appealing to gamers.

Despite the best gaming laptops and best gaming PCs offering a level of power that the PS5 and Xbox Series X can only dream of, there’s been a concerning trend recently with games on PC often performing poorly, despite the extra graphical oomph they can make use of.

High-profile games such as The Last of Us and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor have had noticeable performance issues on PC – especially when it comes to stuttering, which makes the games unenjoyable to play.

The good news is that Unreal Engine 5.2, the upcoming version of the tool, comes with various improvements to reduce – and even eliminate – stuttering. This includes an improved PSO precaching system. Stuttering can occur if the game engine tries to load content and it’s not ready. Using Pipeline State Object (PSO) to cache any Shaders ahead of them being needed aims to reduce instances of stuttering (also known as hitching).

The stability and performance of this process are improved in Unreal Engine 5.2, and it can now skip PSOs if they are not ready, further reducing stuttering.

Technical jargon aside, this should mean that modern PC games built on Unreal Engine 5.2 will run far more smoothly – and that’s great news for PC gamers. There are caveats – the game needs to be made in Unreal Engine 5.2, and it may take a while for those titles to start hitting the market.

Unreal Engine is one of the most popular game engines in the world, however, with a wide range of high-profile game developers using it, so there should be plenty of games in the pipeline that can benefit from the new tools.

Gaming MacBooks on the horizon?

As 9to5Mac points out, Unreal Engine 5.2 also marks the first time the game engine supports Apple Silicon chips – namely the M1 and M2 (plus their various spin-offs) found in the latest Macs and MacBooks.

This native support will allow Unreal Engine to gain unfettered access to the power of the M1 and M2 chips, rather than having to run via the Rosetta 2 compatibility layer, which impacted performance.

This should make modern Macs and MacBooks more attractive to game developers, and the more game devs are using Macs, hopefully the more games come out for Macs and MacBooks.

If games built using Unreal Engine 5.2 can also run natively on M1 and M2 chips, we could also see those games performing better as well.

While it’s very unlikely that Apple would ever make a MacBook aimed squarely at gaming, devices such as the MacBook Pro 14-inch and MacBook Pro 16-inch, which come with powerful M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, have the potential to be formidable gaming devices – if only there were games that took advantage of their hardware. With Unreal Engine 5.2, we may be a bit closer to that happening.

There’s a huge amount of new features with Unreal Engine 5.2 which are summed up in a blog post from the Epic Games team.

If you want the full summary, Epic Games also released a video highlighting all the new features, which you can watch below:

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.