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Unreal Engine 4.16 Adds Support For Nintendo Switch

Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4.16, and the feature list includes new tools for 3D artists and performance enhancements for mobile and console developers. UE 4.16 also introduces full-featured support for the Nintendo Switch.

The latest version of Unreal Engine (UE4) includes a handful of newly introduced rendering features. Environment artists now have access to Volumetric Fog to enhance the ambiance of their creations with fog cover, billows of smoke, and even dust particles in the air. Epic Games said that the tool allows you to simulate how “any number of lights” reacts to the Volumetric Fog effects.

The company said that Distance Field Ambient Occlusion and Ray Traced Distance Field Shadows render “30% to 50% faster” on console hardware and modest PC systems. Epic Games also said that it improved Distance Field Generation performance. The latest version benefits from acceleration from Intel’s Embree ray tracing library, and the update also managed to reduce memory usage in Eight Bit Mech Distance Fields and Compress Mesh Distance Fields, according to Epic Games.

Unreal Engine 4.16 includes a new tool called Lightweight Rigid Body Simulation that lets you spawn “hoards of physically-rendered characters” inside your Animation Blueprint. Lightweight Rigid Body Simulation includes “immediate mode,” which leverages Nvidia’s PhysX to render your scene in real-time.

Epic Games also introduced Low-Level Clothing Simulation based on Nvidia’s NvCloth PhysX Clothing solver. The developer said the NvCloth solver is a direct replacement for the APEX clothing solver found in previous versions of UE4. Nvidia’s approach is similar to the APEX solver, but it offers access to more simulation data and additional inertia settings.

Nintendo Gets Some Epic Love

If you’re a Nintendo fan, Unreal Engine 4.16 should be exciting for you because it introduces full support for Nintendo Switch. Unreal Engine is now certification compliant for Nintendo Switch, which means that developers can create production-ready games for Nintendo’s latest platform. Unreal Engine for Switch offers multiple rendering pipelines—deferred, mobile forward, and clustered forward—and it allows developers to offer networked multiplayer in their Switch games.

Nintendo’s Switch isn’t the only console getting love from the Unreal Engine 4.16 update, though. Epic Games changed the default renderer for Xbox One games to DX12. UE4 still offers DX11 support for Xbox One, and you can switch it back if you’d like, but DX12 extracts improved performance from the CPU and GPU.

New VR Mode

Unreal Engine’s VR Mode got a fresh look in Unreal Engine 4.16. The new UI is built with an asymmetrical controller setup. In one hand, you’ll get a Radial Menu; in your other hand, you’ll get a laser pointer to interact with the menu. You can access all VR mode actions and features from the Radial Menu system. The developer said the new interface is more intuitive to work with than the old system.

Unreal Engine 4.16 also introduces an expansion of VR Mode’s capabilities. Epic Games first launched VR Mode as a virtual reality world editor tool, but now you can use it for editing cinematics, too. Unreal Engine 4.16 includes VR Mode for Sequencer, Epic Games’ digital cinematics editor.

But wait, there's more! Even with all the above, there's an extensive list of changes and improvements that you can find on the Unreal Engine blog page.

  • AgentLozen
    I remember the next generation Unreal Engine demo from a few years ago. I'm talking about the dystopian future one with the guy fighting robots in a dark city. That demo was incredibly impressive for the time. Many modern PC graphics functions weren't being used because every game was still being built on the X-Box 360. It was nice to see a big company like Epic go all out showing us the potential for next generation 3D graphics.

    Unreal Engine 4 has become publicly available since then. I thought that would mean we would see a swarm of ultra detailed next generation games come about. Instead, there are tons of games with TBD release dates waiting to finish development.

    What I'm saying is that even if you began development on a Nintendo Switch title in UE4 TODAY, it wouldn't bear fruit for another two or three years at the very earliest. Even still, it's really cool to see that the Switch now officially has support for UE4.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    19733977 said:
    I remember the next generation Unreal Engine demo from a few years ago. I'm talking about the dystopian future one with the guy fighting robots in a dark city. That demo was incredibly impressive for the time. Many modern PC graphics functions weren't being used because every game was still being built on the X-Box 360. It was nice to see a big company like Epic go all out showing us the potential for next generation 3D graphics.

    Unreal Engine 4 has become publicly available since then. I thought that would mean we would see a swarm of ultra detailed next generation games come about. Instead, there are tons of games with TBD release dates waiting to finish development.

    What I'm saying is that even if you began development on a Nintendo Switch title in UE4 TODAY, it wouldn't bear fruit for another two or three years at the very earliest. Even still, it's really cool to see that the Switch now officially has support for UE4.

    That's not entirely true.
    developers will be able to quickly and easily bring their existing work over to the Switch platform.
    Projects that are nearing completion or part way through development could decide to support Nintendo's platform without a full engineering team.
    Reply
  • beoza
    Now if Nintendo will hire the person who's been making Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Unreal Engine. They've already done a lot of work and what they have done looks really good. They could re-release the game on the Switch.
    Reply
  • jeremy2020
    wouldn't adding support for the switch just mean they need an old version of the engine from several years ago? ;)
    Reply
  • AgentLozen
    jeremy2020 said:
    wouldn't adding support for the switch just mean they need an old version of the engine from several years ago? ;)
    Har har.

    Part of Unreal Engine 4's appeal is it's scalability. You can design a game that uses every bell and whistle available but also demands a modern $1500 PC. However, it also gives you the tools to build a game that will still run on lower class hardware.

    You can design a game from scratch in UE4 for the Switch. It may not compete visually with the PS4, but you'll have complete access to all of the most modern tools that UE4 offers.

    I understand you were just being facetious tho ;)
    Reply
  • David_6502
    he may have been facetious but there is a grain of truth. Mhyrvold once said "Software is a gas. Software always expands to fit whatever container it is stored in." - That container in this case is the high end PC ecosystem and really people who have to make games for XB1, PS4, Switch or even phones have to do a lot of extra work to pare it back down. Just look at the Gears of War XB1 post mortem and note that they wrote their own rendering system.
    Reply