Epic Games have just release UE 4.26. In this release we see features such as hair and anisotrophy reach production ready status. Additionally there is a new water simulation system (previewed here) and better integration of the new Chaos Physics System (tutorial here) and a brand new system for creating better skies, lighting and environmental clouds. Additionally there were several advancements on the film making side of the equation along side hundreds of other small improvements and bug fixes. With each new Unreal Engine release more and more functionality traditionally done in your DCC tool of choice such as modelling, rigging, animating and sculpting are being added to Unreal.
A summary of new features from the Unreal Engine 4.26 release notes:
The production-ready Hair, Fur, and Feathers system enables you to design the most believable humans and animals. You can use the Volumetric Cloud component along with the Sky Atmosphere and Sky Light to author and render realistic or stylized skies, clouds, and other atmospheric effects with full artistic freedom. The new Water System makes it possible to create believable bodies of water within your landscape terrains that react with your characters, vehicles, and weapons. With an improved and expanded feature set, Chaos physics now lets you simulate Vehicles, Cloth, and Ragdolls in addition to Rigid Bodies so every aspect of the environment comes to life.
Sequencer now works in conjunction with Control Rig and the new full-body IK solution to create new animations inside of Sequencer, reducing the need to use external tools. Movie Render Queue (formerly known as High Quality Media Export) has been enhanced to support render passes enabling further enhancements to be made to the final image in a downstream compositing application. nDisplay multi-display rendering is easier to set up and configure in addition to enabling more pixels to be rendered at a higher frame rate, thus increasing performance and supporting larger LED volumes with existing hardware. The Collaborative Viewer Template has been significantly improved to enhance the collaborative design review experience, and enable more users to join a session. The Remote Control API has been improved to seamlessly connect properties and functionality in Unreal Editor to UI widgets giving users the ability to quickly change properties from an external device, such as an artist on stage changing the sky rotation or the sun position from an iPad.
In the video below we take a quick look at the new water system as well as a quick tutorial on creating Hair alembic files using Blender for export to Unreal Engine, then quickly showcase the new Groom hair functionality.