First made available in preview at GDC 2023, today Epic Games released Unreal Engine 5.2. This release is absolutely loaded with new (often experimental features) such as the new Procedural Content Generation tools, the new more details Substrate material system, Blueprint Tools support and Chaos Skin support. Additionally MacOS users can rejoice, as native Apple Silicon support is now available in the Epic Games Launcher. We looked at an earlier developmental release of Unreal Engine on Mac and saw a near doubling of performance!
Details from the Unreal Engine announcement blog:
Procedural Content Generation framework
Unreal Engine 5.2 offers an early look at a Procedural Content Generation framework (PCG) that can be used directly inside Unreal Engine without relying on external packages. The framework includes both in-editor tools and a runtime component.
The PCG tools enable you to define rules and parameters to populate large scenes with Unreal Engine assets of your choice, making the process of creating large worlds fast and efficient.
The runtime component means that the system can run inside a game or other real-time application, so that the world can react to gameplay or geometry changes. The PCG tools can also be used for linear content requiring substantial numbers of assets, such as large architectural projects or film scenes.
This is an Experimental feature that will be further developed over future releases.
This release also introduces Substrate, a new way of authoring materials that gives you more control over the look and feel of objects used in real-time applications, such as games, and for linear content creation.
When enabled, it replaces the fixed suite of shading models with a more expressive and modular multi-lobe framework that provides a greater range of surface appearances and a wider parameter space from which to work. It is especially powerful for describing layered looks, for example “liquid on metal” or “dust on clear coat.”
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To test out Substrate, you can enable it in the project settings. As an Experimental feature, we do not recommend using it for production work; we welcome feedback to continue to refine its functionality.
Enhanced virtual production toolset
With this release, the virtual production toolset continues to receive new features and enhancements that give filmmakers more creative power.
Dovetailing with the desktop ICVFX Editor, a new iOS app for ICVFX stage operations (coming soon for iPad via the Apple App Store) will offer an intuitive touch-based interface for stage operations such as color grading, light card placement, and nDisplay management tasks from anywhere within the LED volume. This puts creative control directly in the filmmakers’ hands to achieve the desired look where filming is actually taking place, without having to call back to the Unreal Engine operators.
Meanwhile, enhancements to Unreal Engine’s VCam system offer filmmakers greater scope for creative decision-making during pre-production. These include the new ability to operate multiple simultaneous Virtual Cameras off a single editor instance, as well as to create more sophisticated and layered camera moves.
Finally, extended nDisplay support for SMPTE 2110 builds on the initial groundwork laid in Unreal Engine 5.1 toward the next generation of ICVFX hardware deployment. This Experimental feature is suitable for testing in Unreal Engine 5.2 as hardware becomes available, with production viability targeted for Unreal Engine 5.3.
Apple Silicon support
Native support for Apple Silicon has been added to the Unreal Editor. This brings a better user experience, improved performance, and greater stability. The Universal Binary of Unreal Engine that natively supports both Apple Silicon and Intel CPUs is now available to download from the Epic Games launcher.
You can learn more about Unreal Engine 5.2 being released in the video below.