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Epic games released a new version of it’s flagship game engine, Unreal Engine 4.22. This release comes with a total of 174 improvements, focused on “pushing the boundaries of photorealism in real-time environments”. It also comes with improved build times, up to 3x faster, and new features such as real-time ray tracing. Unreal Engine 4.22 also adds support for Microsoft HoloLens remote streaming and Visual Studio 2019.

What’s new in Unreal Engine 4.22?

Real-Time Ray Tracing and Path Tracing (Early Access): The Ray Tracing features, first introduced in a preview in mid-february,  are composed of a series of ray tracing shaders and ray tracing effects. They help in achieving natural realistic looking lighting effects in real-time.

The Path Tracer includes a full global illumination path for indirect lighting that creates ground truth reference renders right inside of the engine. This improves workflow content in a scene without needing to export to a third-party offline path tracer for comparison.

New Mesh drawing pipeline: The new pipeline for Mesh drawing results in faster caching of information for static scene elements. Automatic instancing merges draw calls where possible, resulting in four to six time fewer lines of code. This change is a big one so backwards compatibility for Drawing Policies is not possible. Any Custom Drawing Policies will need to be rewritten as FMeshPassProcessors in the new architecture.

Multi-user editing (Early Access): Simultaneous multi user editing allows multiple level designers and artists to connect multiple instances of Unreal Editor together to work collaboratively in a shared editing session.

Faster C++ iterations: Unreal has licensed Molecular Matters’ Live++ for all developers to use on their Unreal Engine projects, and integrated it as the new Live Coding feature. Developers can now make C++ code changes in their development environment and compile and patch it into a running editor or standalone game in a few seconds.

UE 4.22 also optimizes UnrealBuildTool and UnrealHeaderTool, reducing build times and resulting in up to 3x faster iterations when making C++ code changes.

Improved audio with TimeSynth (Early access): TimeSynth is a new audio component with features like sample accurate starting, stopping, and concatenation of audio clips. Also includes precise and synchronous audio event queuing.

Enhanced Animation: Unreal Engine 4.22 comes with a new Animation Plugin which is based upon the Master-Pose Component system and adds blending and additive Animation States. It reduces the overall amount of animation work required for a crowd of actors. This release also features an Anim Budgeter tool to help developers set a fixed budget per platform (ms of work to perform on the gamethread).

Improvements in the Virtual Production Pipeline:

  • New Composure UI: Unreal’s built-in compositing tool Composure has an updated UI to achieve real time compositing capabilities to build images, video feeds, and CG elements directly within the Unreal Engine.
  • OpenColorIO (OCIO) color profiles: Unreal Engine now supports the Open Color IO framework for transforming the color space of any Texture or Composure Element directly within the Unreal Engine.
  • Hardware-accelerated video decoding (Experimental): On Windows platforms, UE 4.22 can use the GPU to speed up the processing of H.264 video streams to reduce the strain on the CPU when playing back video streams.
  • New Media I/O Formats: UE 4.22 ships with new features for professional video I/O input formats and devices, including 4K UHD inputs for both AJA and Blackmagic and AJA Kona 5 devices.
  • nDisplay improvements (Experimental): Several new features make the nDisplay multi-display rendering system more flexible, handling new kinds of hardware configurations and inputs.

These were just a select few updates. To learn more about Unreal Engine 4.22 head on over to the Unreal Engine blog.

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