Thursday, June 11th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 4.8

Epic Games announcement livestream for Unreal Engine 4.8. The latest update to the game engine, which adds support for Valve’s SteamVR hardware and new open world features, is now officially shipping.

Originally posted on 8 May. Scroll down for updates.

Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.8, the latest update to the game engine, as a preview build. The update adds support for Valve’s SteamVR headsets and new optimisations for rendering open worlds.

Support for the HTC Vive VR headset
The headline feature this time round is support for Valve’s SteamVR technology, in the shape of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset.

According to Epic’s blog, UE4 has been “highly optimized for the latest SteamVR features, with particular focus on minimized latency”.

New ‘open world’ features for rendering vegetation
However, the update also introduces a number of new open world features, first shown in the company’s recent Kite demo.

They’re largely related to the way vegetation is rendered, including hierarchical culling of foliage, and an optimised system for drawing “huge amounts of grass and ground clutter with temporal LOD cross-fading”.

There is also an ‘experimental preview’ of a new procedural foliage system for automatic object placement in large environments; and the foliage editor’s UI has been overhauled to make it easier to use.

Better motion blur, depth of field and tonemapping
Other graphics improvements include more realistic motion blur, including the option to generate blur from morph targets; and depth of field effects have been made “more physically based”.

There is also a new tonemapping system aimed at creating a more filmic look.

Other changes in the update affect the Paper2D system for creating sprite-based games, the Blueprint system, procedural mesh generation, and collision geometry. You can find a full list via the link below.

Updated 11 June: Unreal Engine 4.8 has now been released officially.

Alongside the update, Epic plans to release more content from its Kite demo (above) on the Learn tab of its site this week, including a standalone exe file for the project, as well as the models and textures already available.

Unreal Engine 4.8 is available for 64-bit Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.9.2. Use of the editor is free, but Epic takes 5% of gross revenues beyond the first $3,000 per quarter for any product you release commercially.

Read a full list of new features in Unreal Engine 4.8