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Unreal Engine 4.14 released with a slew of new features and improvements

Modern first-person shooters can be incredibly realistic and intense experiences with graphics that put players in the middle of the action. The graphical environments of many games aren’t written from the ground up, but rather they utilize game engines that provide the framework upon which to build games for a variety of platforms.

Epic Games develops one such engine, Unreal, that is used in games across a number of platforms including Windows and Xbox via DirectX 11 and 12, PlayStation 4, OpenGL on MacOS, iOS, Linux, and Android, Vulcan on Android, and even the web via JavaScript/WebGL. Today, Epic announced the latest update to the Unreal Engine, bringing it to version 4.14 and adding in a host of improvements and new features.

First up is the introduction of a new forward shading renderer that’s optimized for virtual reality applications and that allows for superior multisampled anti-aliasing (MSAA). The renderer uses MSAA along with high-quality UE4 lighting and per-material optimizations that make it particularly good for VR. Simply put, the new renderer provides support for stationary lights, with dynamic shadows for moving objects that blend with precomputed environmental shadows.

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Additional improvements include the blending of multiple reflection captures with parallax correction, planar reflections of partial scenes intermixed with reflection captures, and precomputed lighting and skylights. These and other improvements should result in more realistic and dynamic environments. In terms of performance, the new forward renderer should be improved over the previous deferred renderer. Not all renderer functionality has been implemented.

The next major improvement in Unreal Engine 4.14 is the use of contact shadows to provide more highly detailed dynamic shadows on object. Contact shadows also allow for more efficient use of self-shadowing, and does not require any third-party libraries.

Other improvements include streamlined animation tools and new Sequencer features. Vehicles, clothing, and animation Blueprints were improved as well. Mobile developers will benefit from Vulcan API support, with the ability to read from scene color and depth and to draw 3D objects directly on user interfaces. Finally, Visual Studio “15” is now supported for Windows developers using C++.

There are more details available on how Unreal Engine 4.14 provides for more engaging, dynamic graphical environments at the Epic Games blog. Clearly, the new upgrade brings significant advantages to game developers that should translate direction into better experience for gamers on all platforms.