Wednesday, March 31st, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Free Cesium for Unreal plugin creates a virtual Earth in UE4

Geospatial software firm Cesium has released Cesium for Unreal, a new open-source plugin that makes it possible to stream high-resolution geospatial data into Unreal Engine.

The plugin can generate a full-scale digital replica of the Earth based on the WGS84 standard inside the game engine, recreating real-world terrain accurately for architectural visualisations and military sims.

Create interactive ‘digitalised twins’ of the Earth inside Unreal Engine
Cesium for Unreal enables developers to use high-resolution 3D geospatial data, such as that captured by aerial photogrammetry and LIDAR scans, to reproduce the real world inside Unreal Engine.

The plugin “enables a high-accuracy full-scale globe” based on the WGS84 standard used by GPS systems.

It can be used to create “digitalised twins” of parts of the real world inside UE4, recreating real-world locations for use in games, architectural visualisations or military training apps.

The resulting digital environments can be made interactive using Unreal Engine’s standard toolsets: the plugin is integrated with Actors and Components, Blueprints, and “other UE features”.

The online Cesium for Unreal Quickstart Guide provides basic tutorials for using the plugin to create a globe inside Unreal Engine and populate it with real-world 3D buildings.

Integrated with Cesium.ion, but should work with other data sources
To make use of Cesium for Unreal, users need a source of geospatial data to pull into the game engine.

By default, that’s Cesium ion, Cesium’s own platform, which provides streamable content including world terrain, buildings and imagery from Bing Maps, and which is integrated inside the plugin.

However, the plugin is open-source, so developers can create their own integrations for other platforms.

Pricing and system requirements
The Cesium for Unreal plugin is free. The source code is available under an Apache 2.0 licence.

The compiled plugin is available from the Unreal Engine Marketplace for Windows only, but Mac users can compile a macOS version from source via an experimental branch of the code.

Cesium ion is free for non-commercial use, although there are limits on the amount of data that can be streamed each month; commercial subscriptions start at $149/month.

Read more about Cesium for Unreal on Cesium’s blog

Download the free Cesium for Unreal plugin from the Unreal Engine marketplace

Find the source code for the plugin on GitHub