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Epic Games launched the latest version of its game creation tool, Unreal Engine 4.26, early Thursday morning.

The update delivers a host of new tools which extend the ability of creators to craft believable real-time environments and characters. The Unreal Engine is one of the most widely-used game engines in the world, utilized by studios and creators globally.

Several new additions to Unreal Engine will allow users to create more realistic animated characters. Hair and fur is production-ready in the 4.26 update, allowing for more convincing animated characters. An asset groom editor has been added for setting up properties and compatibility with various features. Users will also have the ability to blend animation clips; the workflow will be familiar to animators who have worked in other nonlinear animation editors.

The worlds and environments within the game are also set to be more immersive. Unreal Engine 4.26 introduces a volumetric cloud component that is able to interact with sky atmosphere, allowing lighting and shadowing updates in real time to reflect time of day changes. This release also sees the introduction of a new water system. Creators can now use splines (mathematical functions used for shaping) to define bodies of water and will be able to adjust depth, width and velocity accordingly.

In addition to in-world realism, the new release expands the toolkit of virtual production. Technology such as NVIDIA’s NVLink, which enables high speed data transfer to support LED volumes, has been added. 4.26 also introduces a new Remote Control API that allows users to collect and parameters or function libraries from the Unreal Engine UI into customizable presets, a feature that also benefits broadcast and live events which may need to make changes remotely in real time.

Unreal Engine 4.26 also brings enhanced high-quality media output to users. New features have been added to Movie Render Queue, allowing users to render matte IDs, camera motion vectors, Z-depth and more. Movie Render Queue now supports OpenColorIO, allowing users to work in any color space. Support for exporting multi-channel EXRs has been added in the 4.26 update as well.

In addition to the updates that allow creators to make higher quality content in a more user-friendly experience, Unreal Engine 4.26 improves on user ability to the collaborative viewer template. Voice communication between participants in the collaboration viewer has been added using in-engine peer-to-peer protocols.


Photo courtesy of Epic Games