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Exploring the Unreal Engine 4.20 update

Exploring the Unreal Engine 4.20 update

Epic Games has launched one of the biggest updates ever to their increasingly popular games development engine, Unreal Engine 4.

Pushing a swathe of quality of life (QoL) improvements, social app integrations, and revealing an all-new visual effects editor, Niagara. The update appears to be chock full of useful tools and optimizations that will prove helpful to many developers.

In an effort to condense the huge info dump that 4.20 brought with it, below is a quick list of all the new features and updates to the engine;

  • Optimizations and Improvements for Shipping on Mobile Platforms
    • Hardware and Software Occlusion Queries on Mobile
    • Platform Material Stats
    • Improved Android Debugging
    • Mobile Landscape Improvements
    • 18 more Miscellaneous Mobile Improvements
  • Optimizations and Improvements for Shipping on Nintendo Switch
    • performance and memory improvements
  • Proxy LOD Improvements
    • Proxy LOD tool
  • Cinematic Depth of Field

  • cinema quality scenes in a real-time environment
  • Full Camera Bokeh Recreation
  • Niagara Visual Effects Editor
    • All new VFX tool to replace Unreal Cascade
  • Improvements to Effect Design and Creation

    • Updated User Interface
    • New Modules
  • Digital Human Improvements
  • Rectangular Area Lights
  • Mixed Reality Capture (Early Access)

    • Composite real players into a virtual play space
  • nDisplay Flexible, Multi-Display Rendering
    • Create video walls for large visualization installations
  • Submix Audio Recording
    • Record Engine output
  • Shared Skeletal Mesh LOD Setting
    • Set LOD settings once and reuse them across multiple Skeletal Mesh assets
  • Streaming GeomCache and Improved Alembic importer (Experimental)
  • Scripted Extensions for Actor and Content Browser Context Menu
    • Easily create in-context tools and workflow enhancements without writing a line of code
  • Animation Retarget Manager Improvements
    • Save and reuse mapping data on multiple meshes
  • RigidBody Anim Node Improvements
  • Clothing Improvements
    • Copy Skeletal Mesh vertex colors to any selected Clothing Parameter Mask.

  • Garbage Collection Improvements
    • reducing some operations by as much as 13x
  • Visual Studio 2017 Support
  • Development Streams on GitHub
    • Unreal Engine development streams are now updated live on GitHub.
  • UMG Safe Zone Improvements

  • Curve Atlases in Materials
  • Mesh Description Mesh Format
    • UE4 is moving to a new higher-level intermediate format
  • Label Saved Colors in Color Picker
  • Recently Opened Filter in Content Browser
  • Shotgun Integration (Early Access)
    • It adds the Unreal Editor to your Shotgun launcher
  • Editor Scripting and Automation Libraries
  • Editor Scripting Utilities Plugin
  • Import Asset Metadata through FBX
    • FbxProperty data that is saved in that file is now imported as well
  • Improved Script Access to Static Meshes for LODs and Collisions
    • Auto-generate Levels of Detail (LODs) for your geometry
  • Blueprint Bookmarks
    • Create named Bookmarks in any function graph in the Blueprint Editor
  • Blueprint Watch Window
    • Access to the variables and nodes that you want to watch, even across multiple Blueprints

  • Navigation System Code Moved to a Module
  • Improved Mobile Specular Lighting Model
  • Steam Authentication Added
    • Games can now add a packet handler component that interfaces with Steam’s authentication APIs
  • Frame Accuracy Improvements for Sequencer

  • Media Track for Sequencer
    • like the audio track, but for movies
  • Sequencer Curve Editor and Evaluation Enhancements

  • Animating Variables on Anim Instances in Sequencer
  • Final Cut Pro 7 XML Import/Export in Sequencer
  • Sequence Recorder Improvements
    • Sequencer Track Usability Improvements
  • Translucency Support for Instanced Stereo Rendering
  • Magic Leap One Early Access Support

  • Apple ARKit 2.0 Support
  • Google ARCore 1.2 Support
  • Platform SDK Upgrades
    • Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam, Oculus and more SDK upgrades

And breathe…

Read the full details of each new addition on the Epic Games blog post.

Perhaps the biggest announcement of updates among Unreal history, seeing the development of Niagara and the Cinematic Depth of Field introductions gives us a good insight into the potential applications of Unreal Engine outside of modern games development. Expectations to see the engine adapted to be used in film and other entertainment sectors are high!

For those interested in the new Niagara Visual Effects Editor, check out the GDC talk that goes full-dive into the latest module to launch onto Unreal Engine.


Evil Within 2