Friday, November 13th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Epic Games releases Unreal Engine 4.10

Epic Games’ Bullet Train VR demo, created for this year’s Oculus Connect conference, takes advantages of the new features in Unreal Engine 4.10, particularly the rendering optimisations for head-mounted displays.

Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.10, the latest update to its game engine and development environment, optimising rendering for VR devices and adding a new material quality system for mobile games.

Optimised rendering for VR devices
As usual, the release notes for Unreal Engine 4.10 include a long list of features and bugfixes, but from an artist’s point of view, the most significant are probably those targeted at VR and mobile devices.

In the former camp, Unreal Engine now determines those parts of a scene that will be hidden from view when rendered – notably, due to the lens distortion on a head-mounted display – as a pre-pass.

The engine then performs post-processing operations only on the inverse of this hidden area mesh.

Epic says that the optimisations resulted in around a 2% reduction in frame time on the Bullet Train VR demo shown at the top of this story, and that performance gains would be larger on console titles.

New shading improvements on mobile
Artists working on mobile titles get a new Material Quality system, enabling them to set Low, Medium and High quality versions of shaders: for example, by disabling properties like specular reflection for low-end devices.

Refraction effects are also now supported on higher-end devices, including the iPhone 5S and above, Nexus 5, Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6. Existing shaders with refraction should work correctly without modification.


New Landscape Mirror tool, support for Visual Studio 2015
Other new features include a self-descriptive Landscape Mirror tool (above) geared towards creating competitive two-team levels, and building on the landscape rendering features introduced in Unreal Engine 4.8.

Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE, which now co-installs with the engine, has been updated to Visual Studio 2015.

For the minute, Visual Studio 2013 users can still compile Unreal Engine manually from the GitHub distribution, but Epic says that it will be “fully retiring support for Visual Studio 2013 in an upcoming release”.

Other changes include a range of new automated layout options for Blueprint node graphs, and dedicated mappings for a wider range of Android controllers, including Amazon’s Fire TV remote and Nvidia’s Shield.

Pricing and availability
Unreal Engine 4.10 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 features in Unreal Engine 4.10