2 min read

On 12th February, Epic Games released a preview build of Unreal Engine 4.22, and a major upgrade among numerous other features and fixes is the support for real-time ray tracing and path tracing. The new build will extend its preliminary support for Microsoft’s DirectX Ray-tracing (DXR) extensions to the DirectX 12 API.

Developers can now try their hands at ray-traced games developed through Unreal Engine 4. There are very limited games that support raytracing. Currently, only  Battlefield V (Ray Traced Reflections) and Metro Exodus (Ray Traced Global Illumination) feature ray tracing effects, which are developed in the proprietary Frostbite 3 and 4A Game Engines.

Fun Fact: Ray tracing is a much more advanced and lifelike way of rendering light and shadows in a scene. Movies and TV shows use this to create and blend in amazing CG work with real-life scenes leading to more life-like, interactive and immersive game worlds with more realistic lighting, shadows, and materials.

The patch notes released by the team states that they have added low level support for ray tracing:

  • Added ray tracing low-level support.
    • Implemented a low-level layer on top of UE DirectX 12 that provides support for DXR and allows creating and using ray tracing shaders (ray generation shaders, hit shaders, etc) to add ray tracing effects.
  • Added high-level ray tracing features
    • Rect area lights
    • Soft shadows
    • Reflections
    • Reflected shadows
    • Ambient occlusion
    • RTGI (ray traced global illumination)
    • Translucency
    • Clearcoat
    • IBL
    • Sky
    • Geometry types
      • Triangle meshes
        • Static
        • Skeletal (Morph targets & Skin cache)
        • Niagara particles support
    • Texture LOD
    • Denoiser
      • Shadows, Reflections, AO
    • Path Tracert
    • Unbiased, full GI path tracer for making ground truth reference renders inside UE4.

According to HardOCP,  the feature isn’t technically tied to Nvidia RTX but since turing cards are the only ones with driver support for DirectX Raytracing at the moment, developers need an RTX 2000 series GPU to test out Unreal’s Raytracing. There has been much debate about the RTX offered by NVIDIA in the past. While the concept did sound interesting at the beginning, very few engines adopted the idea- simply because previous generation processors cannot support all the features of NVIDIA’s RTX. Now, with DXR in the picture, It will be interesting to see the outcome of games developed using ray tracing.

Head over to Unreal Engine’s official post to know more about this news.

Read Next

Implementing an AI in Unreal Engine 4 with AI Perception components [Tutorial]

Unreal Engine 4.20 released with focus on mobile and immersive (AR/VR/MR) devices

Game Engine Wars: Unity vs Unreal Engine


Subscribe to the weekly Packt Hub newsletter. We'll send you the results of our AI Now Survey, featuring data and insights from across the tech landscape.