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Epic Releases Unreal Engine—Version 4.25 Brings Production-Ready Raytracing Tools

Epic Games has released the latest Unreal Engine (version 4.25) delivering on substantial new capabilities for both the gaming and professional markets.

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The new Unreal Engine 4.25 brings support for next-generation gaming platforms like Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X. Additionally, the new engine update brings production-ready ray tracing tools and native LiDAR point cloud support, shading model improvements and other features critical to professional AEC market users.

What’s Key in Unreal Engine 4.25

The Unreal Engine has become a driving force in the professional markets, particularly for both AEC and product and industrial design.

Epic Games releases new Unreal Engine 4.25, offering powerful new features for both next-generation game consoles and professional AEC applications alike.

Version 4.25 offers production-ready ray tracing features, as well as support for Niagara Mesh Emitters on both CPU and GPU, plus new support for Anisotropy shading model and big improvements to the Clear Coat shading model. There is also an added Clear Coat BRDR material support to the Path Tracer when generating ground truth comparisons. This will be a significant boost to rendering quality useful for the professional market tools utilizing Unreal Engine 4.25.

Additionally, there are shading model improvements such as a new physically-based Thin Transparency shading model; it adds native support for true tinted translucent materials with physically accurate properties, allowing artists to simulation materials like tinted car windows in a single render pass.

AEC Pro Features

While improvements to rendering like the Ray Tracing features mentioned above are useful to AEC professionals, exclusive professional features like the new LiDAR Point Cloud support means that AEC pro apps based on the Unreal Engine are now capable of ingesting laser-device generated point clouds common in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) markets.

An example of LiDAR point cloud data visualized in the new Unreal Engine 4.25.

The LiDAR support means UE 4.25 can import, visualize, edit, and interact with point clouds from laser scanning equipment. This update will empower archViz specialists, manufacturers, set designers, builders and more to aggregate and use huge data sets captured from real-world contexts. (see, Architosh, “Talking to 2019 Autodesk Innovator of the Year—Amr Raafat of Windover Construction,” 10 May 2020)

Next-Gen Game Platforms

The big news with version 4.25 is the next-gen game console support in Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X. This support solidifies Unreal Engine as a robust foundation for game developers with scalability across platforms, including mobile, consoles, and PC. In addition, Unreal Engine’s Niagara visual effects system, battle-tested on Fortnite, is now moving from Beta to production-ready in this release.

Unreal Engine 4.25 delivers initial support for Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X as first-class platforms, and throughout the year we will be updating the 4.25-Plus branch with optimizations, fixes, and certification requirements to support developers launching on the next generation of consoles. Features include platform-specific functionality, such as new audio advancements, initial support for online subsystems, and early support for TRC and XR certification requirements.

Niagara VFX and Chaos physics as battle-tested in Fortnite find their way into Unreal Engine 4.25.

Also supported is Unreal Engine’s Chaos physics and destruction system, now in active use on shipping seasons of Fortnite. Chaos now supports destruction, static mesh dynamics with collisions, cloth, hair, rigid-body skeletal control for items such as ponytails and scene queries. As a native physics system, Chaos’ code is easily extended and optimized specifically for Unreal Engine for the most powerful real-time performance.

These are just some of the major features but others include improved HoloLens 2 support, immersive, realistic audio improvements, and more.

Read the full list of features here.

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