What is Unreal Engine 4?

Unreal Engine 4 is a complete suite of game development tools made by game developers, for game developers. From 2D mobile games to console blockbusters and VR, Unreal Engine 4 gives you everything you need to start, ship, grow and stand out from the crowd.

Mobile

Designed for mobile, now and in the future. From simple 2D games to stunning high-end visuals, Unreal Engine 4 gives you the power to develop your game and seamlessly deploy to iOS and Android devices.

Blueprints

Blueprint visual scripting enables you to rapidly prototype and build complete games, simulations and visualizations without the need for programming. Blueprint tools and a visual debugger are included with Unreal Engine 4.

Tools

The Unreal Editor is a fully integrated suite of tools for building every aspect of your project. Advanced features include physically-based rendering, UI, level building, animation, visual effects, physics, networking, and asset management.

New: Volumetric Fog

Create incredible ambience and mood in your environments using the new Volumetric Fog! Varying densities are supported so you can simulate clouds of dust or smoke flowing through light shafts, and any number of lights can affect the Volumetric Fog.

New: Image-Based (FFT) Convolution for Bloom

Create physically-realistic bloom post-process effects using the new image-based (FFT) convolution feature! Unreal Engine 4.16 ships with a FFT Bloom that empowers artists to use custom bloom kernel shapes, with total control over the intensity in order to match the results they imagine.

New: Release Games on Nintendo Switch

Registered developers can now build and release games for the Nintendo Switch! Unreal Engine 4's production-ready Nintendo Switch support is certification compliant, enables networked multiplayer, and provides access to multiple rendering pipelines - deferred, mobile forward, and clustered forward - to enable you to ship virtually any type of game for Nintendo Switch.

Source Code

Every Unreal Engine 4 developer has access to the complete C++ engine and editor source code. Having full source code gives you the power to customize your game, and makes it easier to debug and ship. Join Epic Games and the Unreal Engine community in updating and extending more than three million lines of code available on GitHub.

Virtual Reality

Visual fidelity combines with high performance to create engaging, immersive VR experiences in UE4. Our rendering pipeline gets you to 90 Hz stereo framerate at high resolutions with no code changes required, while scalable tools mean you can develop everything from simple scenes to complex cinematic environments. All with an iteration speed that makes your creative process easier.

Marketplace

Accelerate your development with sample games and scenes, art and audio, Blueprint logic, and even C++ code. Buy content to add to your project, or create and sell your own.

One engine, one workflow

With Unreal Engine 4, you can learn one engine and one workflow to meet all of your needs now and in the future. From mobile projects to super high-end console and PC games, Unreal Engine is in use by indies and professionals around the world.

Own the high end

Push your visuals to the limit on PC, consoles, and VR with custom lighting, shading, VFX and cinematic systems. Create beautiful visuals for architectural visualizations, simulations, digital films, and more.

Everything you need to get started

The Marketplace provides a wealth of production-ready game content, asset packs, documentation, sample projects, tutorials, and demos. Get up to speed rapidly with high-quality, UE4-ready items suitable for a wide range of art styles and game genres.

Niagara Platform Support and Usability Improvements

In our continuing effort to provide industry-leading effects tools, Niagara has received an expanded feature set, substantial quality of life improvements, and Niagara effects are now supported on Nintendo Switch.

GPU-Only Texture Sampling in Niagara

You can now sample a 2D texture or a pseudo-volume 2D texture in your particle scripts! Create amazing effects such as rendering the scene's depth, color and normal information using a Scene Capture Actor and use that to reconstruct the environment within a Niagara particle system with the particles' potential and kinetic energy visualized as emissive light.

What's New:

Unreal Engine 4.27 offers new features and enhancements for creators across all industries. In‑camera VFX goes next level with a slew of efficiency, quality, and ease-of-use improvements to the virtual production toolset, while other highlights include path tracing for stunning final images, out-of-the-box access to Oodle and Bink, production-ready Pixel Streaming, and much more.

nDisplay enhancements

Applications that use multi-display rendering, including in‑camera VFX, are now much easier to set up, with a 3D Config Editor and consolidated access to all nDisplay-related features and settings in a single UAsset. There's also support for OpenColorIO for accurate color calibration, and Beta support for multi-GPU rendering, together with easier multi-camera configuration.

Production-ready Pixel Streaming

Pixel Streaming is now production-ready, with a host of quality improvements and an upgraded version of WebRTC. In addition, we’ve added support for Linux. This powerful technology enables Unreal Engine and applications built on it to run on a high-powered cloud virtual machine and to deliver the full-quality experience to end users anywhere on a normal web browser on any device.

Complete release notes here.

Previous release notes

Production-ready Hair and Fur

The strand-based Hair and Fur system is now production-ready, giving you the ability to simulate and render high-quality hair, fur, and feathers to create believable humans and animals. The system features built-in LOD generation and is compatible with effects such as DOF and Fog. Cards and meshes can be generated in engine for lower-end hardware (Experimental).

Sky, cloud, and environment lighting (Beta)

Author and render realistic or stylized skies, clouds, and other atmospheric effects with full artistic freedom, with a new Volumetric Cloud component that can interact with Sky Atmosphere, Sky Light, and up to two directional lights. Components can be lit and shadowed dynamically, in line with time-of-day updates in real time.

Water system (Experimental)

Create believable bodies of water within your landscapes with a new Water system that gives you the ability to define oceans, lakes, rivers, and islands using splines. Built-in fluid simulation enables characters and objects to realistically interact with the water; the fluid also responds to Terrain, such as reflecting ripples off the shore, and reacting to river flow maps.

Movie Render Queue enhancements (Beta)

You can now output render passes, including matte IDs, camera motion vectors, Z-depth, ambient occlusion, reflections, and more, from the Movie Render Queue. In addition, there’s now support for OpenColorIO (OCIO), and for exporting multi-channel EXRs, Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHR codecs, and Final Cut Pro XML EDLs, as well as the ability to integrate render farms.

Animation in Sequencer (Beta)

It’s now possible to create animations by blending animation clips (such as motion-captured data) directly in Sequencer, with the ability to preview skeleton animations and match joint placement for a smooth transition between clips. The feature is integrated with Control Rig, which now offers a full-body IK solution (Experimental), in addition to the standard FK/IK.

nDisplay support for large LED volumes (Beta)

We’ve updated nDisplay to enable more pixels to be rendered at a higher frame rate, increasing performance and supporting larger LED volumes with existing hardware. We’ve done this by leveraging capabilities such as NVIDIA’s NVLink technology that can transfer data between two GPUs at very high speed, enabling the rendering load to be split between GPUs.

Collaborative Viewer template enhancements

The Collaborative Viewer template that enables collaborative design reviews on VR/AR/Desktop has received significant usability and performance improvements that enhance the experience and enable more users to join a session. In addition, there is now support for voice communication between participants over VOIP using in-engine peer-to-peer protocols.

Remote Control API and Preset (Beta)

We’ve added the ability to easily collect parameters or function libraries from the Unreal Engine UI into customizable presets that can be used in a panel in the Unreal Editor. These can also be seamlessly connected to widgets—such as radial dials, sliders, or color pickers—in web applications, enabling users to quickly change properties from an external device such as an iPad.

Chaos improvements (Beta/Experimental)

We continue to improve Chaos with the intention of replacing PhysX as the default physics system. Chaos is now available for Rigid Bodies, Cloth, and Ragdolls (Beta), and for Vehicles (Experimental). In addition, constraint positions can now be set explicitly, joint stability for longer chains is improved, and the solver is more stable at lower iteration counts than PhysX. To use Chaos in your projects, you'll need to compile the engine from source.

Module Additions and Improvements

  • Generate and receive death events
  • Now factoring mass into multiple modules
  • New SampleSkeletalMeshSkeleton, SampleSkeletalMeshSurface, SkeletalMeshSkeletonLocation and SkeletalMeshSurfaceLocation modules to complement enhancements to the Skeletal Mesh Data Interface
  • New AddVelocityInCone module
  • New Force modules: FindKineticAndPotentialEnergy, GravityForce, SpringForce and multiple usability tweaks to other forces
  • New KillParticlesInVolume module
  • New SpriteRotatationRate module
  • New RecreateCameraProjection module for using render targets and camera transforms to turn scene captures into deformable particle systems
  • New modules for sampling textures: SamplePseudoVolumeTexture, SampleTexture, SubUV_TextureSample, and WorldAlignedTextureSample
  • New utility modules for temporal interpolation and frame counters
  • Many new dynamic inputs and functions

Installation:

How to install Unreal Engine in Windows:

  1. Click the Download button to get our installer.
  2. Once the download is complete, Run the installer.
  3. Click the Install button when the Epic Games Launcher Setup dialog box appears.
  4. Sign into the Epic Launcher.
  5. Click the Unreal Engine tab inside the Epic Games Launcher Loading Screen.
  6. Click the Install Engine button to download and install the latest version of Unreal Engine.
  7. Read our Unreal Engine End User License Agreement (EULA) prior to clicking the Accept button.
  8. Depending on your system specifications, downloading and installing Unreal Engine will take between 10-40 minutes.

How to install Unreal Engine in macOS:

  1. Click the Download button to get our installer.
  2. Double-click the EpicGamesLauncher.dmg icon in Finder to open a new Finder Window.
  3. Drag the Epic Games Launcher icon into the Applications folder.
  4. Sign into the Epic Launcher.
  5. Click the Unreal Engine tab inside the Epic Games Launcher Loading Screen.
  6. Click the Install Engine button to download and install the latest version of Unreal Engine.
  7. Read our Unreal Engine End User License Agreement (EULA) prior to clicking the Accept button.
  8. Depending on your system specifications, downloading and installing Unreal Engine will take between 10-40 minutes.