Epic Games released on Wednesday the latest version of its Unreal Engine game engine, version 4.6. A number of new assets have also been added to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, including the Medieval Inn and Tavern by Ennelia Studio, VFX Weather Pack by Thomas Harle, Space Shooter/Sim Music Loops Pack by Stephen Lu and more.
According to Epic Games, the updated engine allows developers to create a single world up to 12.43 miles across. Developers can string these worlds together by using a feature called World Composition. The updated engine also now supports up to 128 unique textures per material, enabling highly detailed characters and terrain.
Mobile game developers should like the new Mobile Preview feature that enables them to see their creations without having to exit the Unreal Editor. There's even a new Web Browser UI widget for navigating and hosting web pages from within the game.
Epic's updated engine now allows developers to save an instant replay of gameplay so that they can share and stream content to the public (read hype machine). The overall workflow is also faster thanks to a number of C++ optimizations, and new content is currently available in the launcher's Learn tab.
News of the updated engine arrives after Epic Games made Unreal Engine 4 free for academic use. That means students enrolled in a number of video game development programs can have a personal copy of the popular game engine.
"Schools can integrate the same fully featured version of Unreal Engine 4 previously available only to developers, along with all future updates," said Epic's Ray Davis. "Students will retain indefinite access to any versions of the engine they used during their coursework so they'll always have the option to take their class projects and turn them into shipping projects any time in the future."
Back in March, Epic introduced a new business model for Unreal Engine 4 that grants developers access to the full engine by paying a monthly fee of $19. The only catch is that Epic will require a flat 5 percent royalty fee on games that are published using Unreal Engine 4. Previously, developers were required to pay a hefty fee to use the software, a model which is still available to developers who don't want to pay the royalty fee.
A number of games already using Unreal Engine 4 include Dead Island 2, EVE: Valkyrie, Fable Legends, Kingdom Hearts 3, Tekken 7 and Epic's own Fortnite.