Unreal Engine version 5.1 is now available. The groundbreaking features introduced in UE5 have been further enhanced with this release. So we’re seeing the platform become more robust, efficient, and versatile for creators in all industries.
The Unreal Engine team says it has stress-tested the engine against different workflows to target more industries.
What’s in the new Unreal Engine 5.1 release?
Updates to Lumen, Nanite and Virtual Shadow Maps
- Lumen dynamic global lighting and reflection system,
- Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry system,
- On the new generation of consoles, the basis of the Virtual Shadow Maps was created to support games running at 60 fps on PCs.
Thus, we will be able to run simulations and competitive games that are much more detailed without delay.
Nanite, meanwhile, has been updated with opacity masks as well as material-driven animations through the “World Position Offset.” In addition, it was added with the “Programmable Rasterizer” to allow the use of deformations. This exciting development encourages artists to use Nanite to program the behavior of certain objects. For example: Nanite supported leaves whose leaves fly in the wind.
Nanite programmable rasterizer in Unreal Engine 5.1
Increased developer productivity
This release is of great importance in terms of increasing the efficiency of game developers and other large-scale projects. It also helps teams be even more productive.
In this release, with Virtual Assets, metadata was separated from object data. Smaller workspaces have been created for developers who don’t need access to all of their object data. Developers like Perforce, which provides faster synchronization, will be able to synchronize only what they need from source control systems. This feature, which currently supports textures and auxiliary sound files, will be able to support many types in the future.
In addition, automatic Pipeline Object (PSO) caching has arrived for DX12. The process to submit a game in DX12 is now shorter.
All developers and content creators will be able to take advantage of on-demand shader compilation (on-demand shader compilation), where only shaders are required to render what is seen on the screen when working in the Unreal Editor. During the iteration of platform development, only the on-demand compute will be compiled. In this way, there will be significant time savings and high interaction speed in large projects.
Advanced build tools
With additional functionality and improved workflows, tools have been developed to build massive open worlds.
World Partition now supports Large World Coordinates. Thanks to this, you will be able to create huge open worlds without loss of precision.
The user experience of viewing, managing, filtering, searching for files and lists of changes has been improved. Now you can enjoy accelerated source control workflows using World Partition.
In addition, the new HLOD (Hierarchical Level of Detail) supports water treatment and flow. Now you’ll be able to create large bodies of water with better performance and a smaller memory footprint.
Updates for virtual production, broadcast, and live events
With Unreal Engine 5.1, we see a significant increase in performance and usability for in-camera VFX workflows that are implemented evenly across the event space and broadcasts.
Stage operators work in fast-paced, high-pressure environments. We think that the new enhancements, starting with the specially designed new dedicated In-Camera VFX Editor, will delight you.
Stage operators working in fast-paced, high-pressure environments will welcome a range of improvements. No more searching the Outliner for specific objects and controls! The panel also features an improved Light Card system. This provides a preview of the nDisplay wall and the light cards on it. This allows operators to efficiently create, move, and edit light cards and save templates.
Other key enhancements include Color Correction Windows (CCWs), which allows adjustments to be applied only to anything behind them, and Color correction per actor, which reduces the need for complex masking.
Working with media in the engine is much faster and easier thanks to the new Media Plate Actor, which allows you to easily drag and drop images from the scanner. Now you can play uncompressed EXRs with proper SSD RAID, both in the engine and with nDisplay.
Meanwhile, VCam has been overhauled with a new basic system. The use of Epic’s Pixel Streaming technology in this system provides better responsiveness and reliability. An updated user interface with a camera-oriented modern design, which will be more familiar to camera operators, is also one of the important points.
Animation, hardware, and modeling enhancements
All creators can take advantage of the built-in hardware of the Unreal Engine with the DCC applications that come with this release. However, animation development and modeling toolsets can also be utilized. Here are some of the highlights:
Machine Learning (ML) Deformer is now in Beta. It uses a special Maya plugin to train a machine learning model that runs in real time. It allows you to create accurate estimates of complex hardware or any arbitrary deformation. Deformer Graph Editor is now available for easier chart creation and editing.
With machine learning descriptor mode turned on:
When machine learning descriptor mode is off:
Custom User Events have been developed to generate and trigger hardware events such as Control Rig, “Snap FK to IK”. This includes a new Construction Event that allows you to create hardware hierarchies via a graph. With many updates, we are seeing growth and development towards fully procedural hardware. And with these updates, you can automate the creation of hardware for characters that may have different skeletal ratios and characteristics.
Added support for constraints to the Unreal Engine’s multitrack nonlinear animation editor, the Sequencer. We’re also seeing additional functionality added through blueprint and Python scripting. In addition, the UI/UX has been refactored, improving animation, editing workflows, stability, and extensibility.
Finally, improvements to geometry tools include new functions for Geometry Scripting, UV Editor enhancements for handling more complex assets (asset). It also includes additional network editing and creation tools.
Sound system enhancements
Producing professional interactive audio just got faster and easier. So now sound designers can focus most of their time on the key areas that matter most in a project.
MetaSounds updates include additional node types along with support for various multi-channel output formats. There’s also the ability to show feedback on real-time node connections.
Soundscape, a plug-in for procedural media sound production, is also introduced.
A number of artificial intelligence (AI) tools introduced in UE 5.0 are coming out of the Experimental state. Smart Objects and State Tree are ready to use, and MassEntity is in Beta.
MassEntity allows you to efficiently use large-scale worlds. It allows you to create thousands of convincing crowds with its artificial intelligence tool. So it’s a gaming-centric framework for data-driven computations. In this release, we’re seeing UX improvements, CPU performance gains, and memory usage optimizations. In addition, MassEntity processors now automatically have multiple threads.
Smart Objects are objects placed at a level where AI Agents and Players can interact. These objects contain all the information needed for those interactions. The overall stability and workflow improvements that come with this release are one of the key improvements. Now, with this enhancement, it’s even easier to set up Smart Object Definitions.
The State Tree is a general-purpose hierarchical state machine. That is, it combines Selectors from behavior trees with States and Transitions from state machines. This allows you to create high-performance logic that is flexible and streamlined. A number of nice updates come out of this release, including increased flexibility, modularity, memory optimizations, and improved Actor and Blueprint-centric workflows.
Download: You can get Unreal Engine 5.1 on the Epic Games Store.