Back in March we learned that Epic Games had integrated Valve's Steamworks into Unreal Engine 3. This meant that all licensees suddenly had access to Valve's suite of services including product key authentication, copy protection, auto-updating, and more. Those options have now expanded into the free-to-use Unreal Development Kit (UDK).
In the latest release, Epic has made Steam the default system for handling all online services, including matchmaking, friends and server browsing. Epic has also incorporated numerous additions and improvements in the latest UDK build, offering the Scaleform GFX user interface (Flash-based), engine upgrades such as light shafts, exponential height fog, color grading and more. UDK also now supports running 64-bit binaries for the editor.
Launched late last year, UDK is the free edition of Epic's Unreal Engine 3. The release was slated for anyone interested in using 3D game engine technology, including game developers, students, hobbyists, researchers, creators of 3D visualizations and simulations, and digital filmmakers. Although there is no charge for non-commercial or educational use of the UDK, developers wishing to develop for commercial purposes are required to use the licensed version.
To download the latest build of UDK, head here. Minimum requirements include a 2.0+ GHz CPU, Windows XP SP2 or Vista, 2 GB or RAM, a SM3-compatible video card, and 3 GB of free HDD space. The current May build weighs a somewhat light 762 MB.