Epic Games has released Unreal Engine 4.14 to the public.
The update includes features like a new forward shading renderer, contact shadows, and many other improvements that promise to make Unreal Engine games seem more realistic. Epic said that it developed some of the changes internally, but many resulted from contributions to the Unreal Engine 4 project on GitHub. (Approved developers that are registered with Epic can view the Unreal Engine source code.)
These are some of the updates highlighted by Epic Games:
For mobile developers, Vulkan support is ready to use on compatible Android devices! And, we've added various new mobile rendering features such as reading from scene color and depth, and the ability to draw 3D objects on top of your UI.On the Windows platform, C++ programmers can now use Visual Studio "15" for development. Visual Studio 2015 is still supported.
Some of the changes gamers are more likely to notice are improved performance, better lighting effects, and more detailed shading on human subjects. But the update also includes many fixes that will help game developers by making it easier to animate objects, changing the way vehicles work, and even allowing them to edit landscapes using motion controllers in VR. This results in a streamlined experience for everyone who makes or plays games.
Unreal Engine 4.14 has updates for every compatible platform--which ranges from home consoles and PCs to mobile devices and television sets--but Epic seems to have paid close attention to VR. Many of the changes, from the forward renderer to the precomputed lighting scenarios and beyond, are meant to give VR game developers more capabilities while simultaneously improving the performance of games played on HMDs with limited power.
This makes Unreal Engine 4.14 the beginning of an era--and an end to one. Epic said that this is the last version of the engine that will support Windows XP, the venerable operating system that even Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014. Combine the focus on VR with updates aimed at mobile devices, especially those on the Android platform, and it seems like version 4.14 of the Unreal Engine is all about taking out the old and replacing it with the new.
Unreal Engine 4.14 is available now. A full list of the many changes (and they are plentiful) brought with this update can be found in the release notes.