Following the release of Unreal Engine 4.19 this April, Epic games have launched the Unreal Engine 4.20. This major update focuses on enhancing scalability and creativity, helping developers create more realistic characters, and immersive environments, for games, film, TV, and VR/ AR devices.
Multiple optimizations for Mobile Game development
- Hardware Occlusion Queries are now supported for high-end mobile devices on iOS and Android that support ES 3.1 or Vulkan using the GPU.
- Developers can also iterate and debug on Android without having to repackage the UE4 project.
- Game developers now have unlimited Landscape Material layers on mobile devices.
Mixed Reality Capture
Unreal Engine 4.20 provides a new Mixed Reality Capture functionality, which makes it easy to composite real players into a virtual space for mixed reality applications. It has three components: video input, calibration, and in-game compositing. You can use supported webcams and HDMI capture devices to pull real-world green-screened video into the Unreal Engine from a variety of sources. The setup and calibration are done through a standalone calibration tool that can be reused across Unreal Engine 4 titles.
Niagara Visual effects editor
The Niagara visual effects Editor is available as an early access plugin. While the Niagara editor builds on the same particle manipulation methods of Cascade (UE4’s previous VFX), unlike Cascade, Niagara is fully Modular.
UE 4.20 adds multiple improvements to Niagara Effect Design and Creation.
- All of Niagara’s Modules have been updated to support commonly used behaviors in building effects for games.
- New UI features have also been added for the Niagara stack that mimic the options developers have with UProperties in C++.
- Niagara now has support for GPU Simulation when used on DX11, PS4, Xbox One, OpenGL (ES3.1), and Metal platforms.
- Niagara CPU Simulation now works on PC, PS4, Xbox One, OpenGL (ES3.1) and Metal.
Niagara was showcased at the GDC 2018 and you can see the presentation Programmable VFX with Unreal Engine’s Niagara for a complete overview.
Cinematic Depth of Field
Unreal Engine 4.20 also adds Cinematic Depth of Field, where developers can achieve cinema quality camera effects in real-time. Cinematic DoF, provides cleaner depth of field effect providing a cinematic appearance with the use of a procedural Bokeh simulation. It also features dynamic resolution stability, supports alpha channel, and includes settings to scale it down for console projects.
For additional information, you can see the Depth of Field documentation.
Proxy LOD improvements
The Proxy LOD tool is now production-ready. This tool improves performance by reducing rendering cost due to poly count, draw calls, and material complexity. It results in significant gains when developing for mobile and console platforms. The production-ready version of the Proxy LOD tool has several enhancements over the Experimental version found in UE4.19.
- Improved Normal Control: The use may now supply the hard-edge cutoff angle and the method used in computing the vertex normal.
- Gap Filling: The Proxy system automatically discards any inaccessible structures. Gap Filling results in fewer total triangles and a better use of the limited texture resource.
Magic Leap One Early Access Support
With Unreal Engine 4.20, game developers can now build for Magic Leap One. Unreal Engine 4 support for Magic Leap One uses built-in UE4 frameworks such as camera control, world meshing, motion controllers, and forward and deferred rendering. For developers with access to hardware, Unreal Engine 4.20 can deploy and run on the device in addition to supporting Zero Iteration workflows through Play In Editor.
- The hype behind Magic Leap’s New Augmented Reality Headsets
- Magic Leap’s first AR headset, powered by Nvidia Tegra X2, is coming this Summer
Apple ARKit 2.0 and Google ARCore 1.2 Support
Unreal Engine 4.20 adds support for Apple’s ARKit 2.0, for better tracking quality, support for vertical plane detection, face tracking, 2D and 3D image detection, and persistent and shared AR experiences.
It also adds support for Google’s ARCore 1.2, including vertical plane detection, Augmented Images, and Cloud Anchor to build collaborative AR experiences.
These are just a select few updates to the Unreal Engine. The full list of release notes is available on the Unreal Engine blog.