Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 4.5

Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.5, a big update to the game engine, adding support for animation retargeting, raytraced soft shadows, screen-space subsurface scattering and streaming video textures.

New lighting and rendering features
As usual, the most visually striking features of the new release are those relating to lighting and rendering.

The new raytraced distance field soft shadows, shown above, provide soft area shadows with sharp contacts between objects. Epic claims they are “generally 20-30% faster on the GPU than cascaded shadow maps”.

There is also a new screen-space subsurface scattering system for – among other things – more realistic skin, and updates to distance field ambient occlusion, including approximate specular occlusion for the sky.

In-engine animation retargeting and other new tools
However, there are a lot other additions, including an in-engine animation retargeting system enabling Unreal Engine to apply animations to different skeletons using the humanoid rig.

Other new features include support for video textures on in-game or UI objects, a new ‘Unreal Motion Graphics’ toolset for designing GUIs, automatic hot-reloading for C++ code, and a range of smaller updates.

Pricing and availability
Unreal Engine 4.5 is available now for Windows 7 64-bit or Mac OS X 10.9.2 or later. A developer subscription costs $19/month plus 5% of gross revenue when releasing a commercial product that uses the engine.

Read a full list of new features in Unreal Engine 4.5