Crytek releases CryEngine 5.4
Originally posted on 30 July 2017. Scroll down for news of the official release.
Crytek has released a preview of CryEngine 5.4, the latest update to the game engine, adding support for Substance materials and the Vulkan renderer, plus improvements to the terrain and vegetation systems.
The update also adds new C# templates and sets of modular components, designed to help new users create games more quickly.
Building on the features of the 5.2 and 5.3 updates
Although CryEngine hasn’t been getting new features at the rate of rivals like Unreal Engine or Unity since it went free-to-use last year, Crytek has been putting out updates fairly steadily.
The 5.2 update, released last August, added support for importing animations in FBX format, a new cloth-simulation system, support for custom plugins, and a set of C++ starter templates.
Version 5.3, which followed this April, added Schematyc, a new node-based scripting system; Nvidia’s PhysX physics; user analytics; support for Hi-DPI monitors; and the beta of a new in-editor asset browser.
New C# templates and ready-made ‘entity components’ speed up game creation
CryEngine 5.4 builds on those developments, with new C# counterparts to the C++ templates, and ‘entity components’: ready-made game components that can be used inside Schematyc.
Both are intended to help new users get up and running with the engine more quickly.
Support for procedural textures in Substance Designer’s .sbsar format
The update also adds a number of entirely new features, arguably the biggest being “full support” for Substance Designer, Allegorithmic’s industry-standard texture-generation software.
It is now possible to “plug .sbsar [Substance Archive] files directly into [the] engine”, where they “will then be instanced and can be modified and plugged into a material”.
Beta support for the Vulkan renderer
Other changes include a beta implementation of the Vulkan renderer introduced as part of the new open cross-platform graphics and GPU computing API, designed as a replacement for the aging OpenGL.
It’s still a work in progress, so unlike Unreal Engine or Unity, it can’t yet be used to deploy projects to Android devices: only to Windows and Linux PCs.
Improvements to terrain creation and vegetation
The terrain system also gets an update, with individual object meshes now being blended into the terrain mesh, where they support “most of [its] heightmap properties and 3D terrain materials”.
According to Crytek, the new workflow supports a “much higher level of detail”, as well as making it possible to create features like overhangs, or terrain running over individual objects.
The vegetation shader also gets a new Extended Detail Bending toggle, which provides finer control over the way that animations are assigned to vegetation.
Updated 21 September 2017: CryEngine 5.4 has now officially been released.
As well as the features discussed above, the release introduces the ‘Ultimate Texture Saver‘, a Photoshop plugin designed to streamline the process of creating texture maps for CryEngine projects.
However, at the time of posting, the source code for CryEngine’s Sandbox Editor, originally scheduled for release alongside CryEngine 5.4, still hadn’t appeared on GitHub.
Availability and system requirements
CryEngine 5.4 is available free for Windows 7+. The source code for the engine is available on GitHub.