Epic releases Unreal Engine 4.11 – improvements based on Paragon development

(Image Credit: Epic Games)

Epic doesn't just maintain the fantastic Unreal Engine, they also create incredible games. Their experience from this game development translates into Unreal Engine features, to help other developers overcome hurdles and ensure the process is as simple as possible whilst maintaining high-levels of performance. 

An upcoming PC and PlayStation 4 title, Paragon, is currently in development at Epic and can be thanked for most of Unreal Engine 4.11's features. Features built for Paragon include; performance and multithreading optimisations to run at 60fps, realistic eye shading, advanced hair shading, improved skin shading, capsule shadows, better cloth simulation, particle depth of field, multithreaded animations, rapid character physics simulation, live animation recording from gameplay, faster garbage collection, and even more – if that wasn't enough – including "huge progress" on the new Sequencer cinematic tool. 

The big topic in the gaming industry, VR, hasn't been forgotten either. New virtual reality features in the update include VR stereo layers, HMD display camera improvements, and updates to the latest SDKs for Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, SteamVR / HTC Vive, and Gear VR. It wasn't just VR SDKs that have been updated in 4.11 either, but also SDKs for Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android, Linux, HTML5, and tvOS. 

Another welcome improvement to Unreal Engine 4.11 is the latest updates to DirectX 12 from Microsoft, which ensures: 

  • Better CPU utilisation while generating rendering commands in parallel. 
  • Support for multiple root signatures. 
  • Asynchronous Pipeline State Disk Cache is enabled by default. 
  • Reduced memory footprint and fixed leaks. 
  • Optimisations to resource transitions. 
  • Faster memory allocations. 
  • Limited GPU starvation by flushing work during idle GPU. 

Experimental support for DirectX 12 on Xbox One is also included as part of the latest Unreal Engine, albeit with a warning to expect rendering or stability issues. The following steps must be taken for it to be enabled: 

  • Set bBuildForD3D12 to true in the XboxOneRuntimeSettings section of BaseEngine.ini
  • Set D3D12_ROOT_SIGNATURE to 1 in XboxOneShaderCompiler.cpp
  • Comment out the use of GetSamplePosition in PostProcessSelectionOutline.usf (not supported on Xbox One yet)
  • Rebuild and restart 

Metal, the new graphics API from Apple, has become the default graphics API for Mac OS X El Capitan projects. Lighting builds have been sped-up due to integration with Intel Embree technology. Epic provides the example of the "Sun Temple" level, of which the lighting now builds 2.4x faster (from 45 seconds to 18 seconds) by using Embree. 

To finalise this exhaustive list of Unreal Engine 4.11 improvements, Epic has included some important audio upgrades such as stereo spatialization, sound focus, sound occlusion, and sound concurrency. We have to hand it to Epic, it was exhausting just writing that list so we can't imagine the work that went into building out all those features. We're going for a lie down. 

Are you impressed with the Unreal Engine 4.11 features? Let us know in the comments.

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