Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.24, now incorporating all features previously part of Unreal Studio, forming a unified solution for creators in all industries.
In addition, Unreal Engine 4.24 includes a host of new features and improvements, including a brand new strand-based hair and fur system, access to all Quixel Megascans free for use with Unreal Engine, new landscape tools, atmospheric skies, first-class USD support, enhanced multi-display rendering, and much more.
This latest update will empower visualization professionals across game development, architecture, film, television, automotive, training and simulation, and more to push the limits of photorealism and speed.
The Unreal Engine 4.24 release includes the following new features and enhancements:
Datasmith for all: This release brings Datasmith, as well as all other Unreal Studio features, into Unreal Engine for free. Datasmith enables seamless conversion of 3D scenes from a wide range of DCC, CAD, and BIM packages and sources including 3ds Max, SketchUp Pro, Cinema 4D, Revit, Rhino, SolidWorks, Catia, and more, along with mesh editing tools, UV projections, jacketing and defeaturing tools, and a Variant Manager.
Strand-based hair and fur (experimental): Simulate and render hundreds of thousands of photoreal hairs at up to real-time speeds from grooms created in DCC packages, enabling the creation of more convincing human characters, as well as furry or hairy creatures. Strands can follow skin deformations for realistic fur and facial hair. The system also features an advanced hair shader and rendering system and integrated physics simulation.
Free Quixel Megascans for all: Unreal Engine users now have access to the entire Quixel Megascans library at no charge, either through the Unreal Engine Marketplace or through Quixel Bridge. With over 10,000 ultra-high-resolution 2D and 3D photogrammetry assets, it’s never been easier to create realistic scenes and environments in Unreal Engine.
Nondestructive landscape creation and editing tools (beta): Create and edit large terrains directly within the Unreal Editor, with the new ability to add multiple height maps and paint layers to a landscape, and to edit them independently of each other. Plus, use Blueprints to create unique custom brushes, such as one that automatically fits the height of the landscape to the bottom of buildings.
Atmospheric skies: Create realistic real-time outdoor environments–including sunsets and space views–in a few clicks. The Sun Positioner now contains a new physically-based SkyAtmosphere component that enables you to render an atmosphere that can be viewed from the ground or from the air, and to dynamically change the time of day.
Screen Space Global Illumination (beta): The new Screen Space Global Illumination (SSGI) is an alternative to Unreal’s existing ray-traced GI method, enabling users to simulate the effect of natural, indirect lighting where light bouncing off one object affects the color of another. SSGI is sufficiently performant to scale across desktop and console platforms.
Improved USD support (beta): With new first-class support for reading USD files and writing back changes, users can collaborate more effectively with team members and work in parallel to bridge real-time and traditional asset creation pipelines. For example, modelers can refine assets in a DCC package while scenes are being laid out in the Unreal Editor, which will immediately pick up the updates.
Enhanced multi-display rendering: A redesigned nDisplay is now consistent with standard Unreal Engine workflows, allowing native compatibility with existing projects, and the delivery of perfectly replicated inputs and synced visuals across networked PCs. Key enhancements include removing the need to use custom Pawns and Game Modes.
Task-specific project creation: When creating a new project in Unreal Engine, users are now guided through a wizard to choose an industry category, and are then able to select from a number of relevant templates. Depending on their selection, required plugins are automatically loaded and settings are properly configured. This tool makes it easier for both new and existing users to get projects up and running with the settings most appropriate for their industry or task. Users can also create their own templates and initial settings to share with their teams.
Alongside the 4.24 release, Epic is also releasing "Apollo 11 Mission AR" as a project sample on the Unreal Engine Marketplace. Built for the Microsoft HoloLens 2, the demo shows off many aspects of the historic mission in immaculate detail, including the launch itself, the Saturn V rocket, the lunar landing, and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon–all recreated from real-world data and footage from the actual mission. By releasing this as a project sample, anyone can see how Epic built the interactive experience from the ground up using the latest Unreal Engine features, and gain insight into how Unreal can be used to create similar projects.
For a full feature list and additional information, visit unrealengine.com/release-notes.