CARY, NC — Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.24 (unrealengine.com), which now incorporates all of the features that were previously part of Unreal Studio. In addition, Unreal Engine 4.24 includes a host of new features and improvements, including a 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 and enhanced multi-display rendering.
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.
Users can simulate and render hundreds of thousands of photoreal hairs at up to realtime 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.
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. There are over 10,000 ultra-high-resolution 2D and 3D photogrammetry assets that can be used to create realistic scenes and environments.
Nondestructive landscape creation and editing tools are in beta, allowing users to create and edit large terrains directly within the Unreal Editor. This adds the ability to add multiple height maps and paint layers to a landscape, and to edit them independently of each other. Plus, Blueprints can be used to create custom brushes, such as one that automatically fits the height of the landscape to the bottom of buildings.
Users can now create realistic realtime outdoor environments - including sunsets and space views - in a few clicks. The Sun Positioner now contains a new physically-based SkyAtmosphere component that enables them to render an atmosphere that can be viewed from the ground or from the air, and to dynamically change the time of day.
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.
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.
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.
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 plug-ins 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 great 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.