Epic Games announced the release of Unreal Engine 4.26 for general availability. The release comes with a host of bug fixes and improvements as well as new features. This release brings new tools that extend the users’ ability to create more relaistic real-time environments and characters for games, film & TV, visualization, and training & simulation, improved virtual production toolset; higher-quality media output, improved design review tools, and more.
Highlights of Unreal Engine 4.26
Unreal Engine is an open-source and cross-platform game engine developed by Epic Games and written in C++. It is an advanced real-time 3D creation platform for creating photorealistic visuals, interactive, and immersive experiences.
Hair, Fur, and Feathers Ready for Production With Groom Asset Editor
The new Groom Asset Editor replaces the properties editor with a fully-featured editor where you can manage and edit your imported grooms with visual representation in its own viewport.
With this artists can create convincing humans or animals, with the ability to simulate and render true strand-based hair, fur, and feathers.
Sky, Cloud, and Environment Lighting
Here artists get the ability to create dynamic time-of-day lighting for large worlds from the sky, atmosphere, and cloud systems. With a new cloud rendering system for large scale cloudscapes and atmospheric fog, artists now get fully dynamic, material-driven workflow for cloud creation with scalable quality across console and desktop platforms.
The Sky lighting now supports real-time scene capture for atmosphere, clouds, height fog, and opaque meshes which is more performant than the Blueprint node.
Water Rendering and Meshing System
There is a new fully-featured water rendering and meshing system in Unreal Engine 4.26 that supports large, open worlds enabling you to quickly create rivers, lakes, and oceans using spline-based workflows. The water system also offers unified shading and rendering pipeline integration along with surface meshing that supports physics interactions and fluid simulation with gameplay.
Unreal Engine 4.26 Extended Virtual Production Toolset
Through technology such as NVIDIA’s NVLink, data can be transferred between two GPUs at very high speed allowing any viewport to be rendered on another GPU, for example, one display-facing GPU would render the entire scene while another handles the inner frustum, passing the pixels back to the first one.
Included is a new fully REST-compliant Remote Control API that enables you to easily collect and organize any parameters or function libraries from the Unreal Engine UI into customizable presets. These can be used in a panel in the Unreal Editor, or seamlessly connected to widgets—such as radial dials, sliders, or color pickers—in web applications, without coding.
Enhanced High-Quality Media Output
The Movie Render Queue enables you to create high-quality frames with accumulated anti-aliasing and motion blur for film and television, cinematics, and marketing, and extremely high-resolution images for print.
The improvements in this release make it possible to output render passes, including matte IDs, camera motion vectors, Z-depth, ambient occlusion, reflections, and more from the Movie Render Queue, enabling you to refine your images in downstream compositing or photo-editing application.
There is now also added support for OpenColorIO (OCIO) to both the Movie Render Queue and the viewport as well as new support for exporting multi-channel EXRs, Apple ProRes, and Avid DNxHR codecs, and Final Cut Pro XML EDLs, as well as the ability to integrate render farms.
Unreal Engine 4.26 Collaborative Design Reviews
There are now significant usability and performance improvements in the Collaborative Viewer template that enables multi-user design reviews on VR/AR/Desktop. This allows more users to join a collaborative review session. Additionally, there is support for voice communication between participants over VOIP using in-engine peer-to-peer protocols.
This just scratches the surface of what is included in Unreal Engine 4.26. You can get a comprehensive list of new features and improvements from the official Unreal Engine Release Notes here. At your own convenience, you can get your free copy of this game and interactive engine here.