What you need to know
- Epic Games has introduced Unreal Engine 4.25, delivering "initial support" for the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
- The update includes production-ready ray tracing features, new VFX models, enhanced profiling, and much more.
- Epic has stated that it will roll out updates over the course of the year to better support devs working on games for the upcoming consoles.
Epic Games has introduced Unreal Engine 4.25, and while there are dozens of new features to be excited about, the highlight is the support for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The game engine now offers "initial support" for next-gen consoles, but it is still a key milestone that should allow devs to start working on games to target the upcoming consoles.
The new version comes with platform-specific functionality, including initial support for online subsystems and new audio advancements. This is the first of many builds that will be rolled out over the course of the year, with Epic noting that it will deliver "optimizations, fixes, and certification requirements" to better facilitate development for the upcoming consoles.
The update has other exciting additions as well. Ray tracing features are production-ready, and that should give game makers the ability to create realistic lighting and shadows. With both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X touting ray tracing as a key feature, this is a big deal. Unreal Engine's Niagara visual effects system — which is used in Fortnite — is now production-ready, meaning developers will be able to use it in their own games.
The VFX system now includes a new UI, significant stability and performance improvements, and new features: audio waveform data interface, particle-to-particle communication, spatial hashing. From Epic:
The engine's physics and destruction system, dubbed Chaos, is picking up "major advancements," including "destruction, static mesh dynamics with collisions, cloth, hair, rigid-body skeletal control for items such as ponytails and scene queries." Version 4.25 also includes shading model tweaks, high-quality media rendering (meaning trailers for next-gen games will look fabulous), and better audio fidelity.
Unreal Engine 4.25 also has updated tools to give devs detailed statistics. Unreal Insights has a new UI and now comes with Networking Insights to debug network traffic, and the Animation Insights plugin lets devs optimize the performance of their games. The game engine also works with Microsoft's HoloLens 2.
Overall, there' a lot here for developers to like, and with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X set to launch sometime later this year, Unreal Engine now offers the tools to create games tailored to those consoles.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.