Features

Unreal Engine is a complete suite of development tools for anyone working with real-time technology. From design visualizations and cinematic experiences to high-quality games across PC, console, mobile, VR, and AR, Unreal Engine gives you everything you need to start, ship, grow, and stand out from the crowd.

FBX, USD, and Alembic support

Connect to media production pipelines, with support for industry standards like FBX, USD, and Alembic. First-class USD support enables users to collaborate better with team members and work in parallel. Unreal Engine can read a USD file from anywhere on disk without a time-consuming full import, and write back changes to it as overrides; reloading the USD payload instantly updates changes made by other users upstream. 

Python scripting

Integrate Unreal Engine into your pipeline and automate your workflows with full support for the industry standard Python scripting in the Unreal Editor. You can construct asset management pipelines, automate data preparation workflows, procedurally lay out content in a level, and create custom UIs to control the Unreal Editor.

Datasmith: seamless data conversion

Convert entire scenes—including animation and metadata—from 3ds Max, Revit, SketchUp Pro, Cinema 4D, Rhino, SolidWorks, Catia, and a whole host of other DCC, CAD, and BIM formats at high fidelity with Datasmith. Nondestructive re-importing means you can continue to iterate in your source package without losing downstream changes. Access to metadata opens doors to automated data preparation through Python scripting or Visual Dataprep.

Visual Dataprep

Easily automate data preparation workflows—even if you’re not a programmer—with a simplified visual tool that lets you create a “recipe” of filters and operators that you can save and reuse on other scenes or projects. Make LODs, set up Lightmap UVs, substitute materials, and delete or merge objects based on factors such as class, name, metadata tags, or size. 

LiDAR point cloud support

Aggregate and use huge datasets captured from the real world, with the ability to import, visualize, edit, and interact with point clouds acquired from laser scanning devices directly within Unreal Engine. Point clouds can be used to visualize locations and to give accurate context to newly designed elements.

Shotgun integration

Shotgun integration in Unreal Engine offers a streamlined connection with both upstream 3D asset data created by artists in other applications like Maya, and downstream image data that needs to be reviewed by supervisors and directors in Shotgun.

The Unreal Editor

Unreal Engine includes the Unreal Editor, an integrated development environment available on Linux, MacOS, and Windows for content authoring. With support for multi-user editing, artists, designers, and developers can simultaneously make changes to the same Unreal Engine project in a safe and reliable way, while the ability to run the full Unreal Editor in VR mode means you can build in a WYSIWYG environment.

Scalable foliage

Automatically cover your huge outdoor environments with different types of grass, flowers, small rocks, or your mesh of choice using the Grass Tool, and create vast forests filled with many different kinds of trees and brushes with the Procedural Foliage Tool that simulates how a forest grows over the years.

Asset optimization

Preparing and optimizing a complex model for better real-time performance can be a tedious, time-consuming experience, often involving multiple round-trips. Unreal Engine offers tools like automatic LOD (level of detail) generation; jacketing and defeaturing, which eliminate hidden surfaces and unnecessary details; and the Proxy Geometry tool, which combines multiple meshes and their materials into a single mesh and material.

Mesh editing tools

Unreal Engine includes basic mesh editing tools to correct small problems in geometry without having to fix them in the source package and re-import. Within the Static Mesh Editor, you can select faces in a variety of ways—by picking, by material, by element, or with grow/shrink—and create, delete, or flip the selected faces, or detach them to a separate new static mesh. You can also unify normals, assign a new material, and perform basic UV projections.

Landscape and terrain tools

Create massive-scale open-world environments and terrains with mountains, valleys, and even caves, with the Landscape system. Add multiple height map and paint layers, and sculpt and paint them independently of each other. Users can also nondestructively edit their landscape with a layer reserved for splines, and create unique custom brushes in Blueprint, and use them to adapt landscapes based on other elements.

Character animation tools

Completely customize characters and craft believable movement with Unreal Engine’s mesh and animation editing tools, which include powerful features such as state machines, blend spaces, forward and inverse kinematics, physics-driven animation for ragdoll effects, and the ability to preview animation on the fly. A scriptable rigging system offers ways to achieve procedural rigging, animating in engine, or setting up custom retargeting or full-body IK solutions.

Animation Blueprints

Create and control complex animation behaviors with Animation Blueprints. An Animation Blueprint is a specialized Blueprint that controls the animation of a Skeletal Mesh. Graphs are edited inside of the Animation Blueprint Editor, where you can perform animation blending, directly control the bones of a Skeleton, or setup logic that will ultimately define the final animation pose for a Skeletal Mesh to use per frame.

Live Link data streaming

The Live Link plugin enables you connect a stream of real-time data from an external source to Unreal Engine. You can stream character animation, cameras, lights, and other data from DCC tools such as Maya or Motionbuilder, or from motion capture or performance capture systems, including Apple’s ARKit face tracking, so you can capture facial performances from an iPhone. Live Link is designed to be extensible through Unreal Plugins, enabling third parties to add support for new sources.

Take Recorder

The Take Recorder enables you to record animations from motion capture linked to characters in the scene, and from Live Link data, for future playback—so you can quickly iterate on performance recordings, and easily review previous takes. By recording Actors into sub-sequences and organizing them by take metadata, you can more easily manage complex productions.

Sequencer: state-of-the-art cinematics

Designed by film and TV professionals, Sequencer unlocks your creative potential with a fully nonlinear, real-time cinematic editing and animation tool built for collaboration. Define and modify lighting, camera blocking, characters, and set dressing on a per-shot­ basis. Teams of artists can work on entire sequences simultaneously in a way never before possible. 

Forward rendering

The Forward Shading Renderer provides a faster baseline, with faster rendering passes, which may lead to better performance on VR platforms and certain consoles such as the Nintendo Switch. Support for Multisample Anti-Aliasing is also helpful for VR applications where constant sub-pixel movement introduced by head tracking generates unwanted blurriness with Temporal Anti Aliasing.

Flexible material editor

Enjoy unprecedented control over the look and feel of characters and objects with UE4's physically-based Material Editor. Quickly create a wide range of surfaces that hold up visually under close examination using the intuitive node-based workflow. Layer materials and fine-tune values at the pixel level to achieve the appearance you desire.

Photoreal rasterizing and ray tracing in real time

Achieve Hollywood-quality visuals out of the box with Unreal Engine’s physically-based rasterizer and ray tracer. Selectively choose to ray trace reflections, shadows, translucency, ambient occlusion, image-based lighting, and global illumination, while continuing to rasterize others passes to get subtle, accurate effects at the performance you need. Effects include dynamic soft shadows from area lights, and ray-traced light from HDRI skylights.

Sophisticated lighting

Create realistic interior and exterior lighting effects while maintaining real-time performance, with a wide range of advanced lighting tools, including an atmospheric Sun and Sky environment, volumetric fog, volumetric lightmaps, precomputed lighting scenarios, and mesh distance fields.

Virtual Texturing

Unreal Engine offers two methods to enable support for very large textures by dividing them into small tiles and only loading the visible tiles. Streaming Virtual Texturing, which uses texel data from converted textures on disk, reduces texture memory overhead for light maps and detailed UDIM UV artist-created textures. Runtime Virtual Texturing, where texel data is generated by the GPU at runtime, improves rendering performance for procedural and layered materials.

Post-process and screen-space effects

Choose from a range of film-quality post-processing effects to adjust the overall look and feel of your scene, including HDR bloom, tone mapping, lens flare, depth of field, chromatic aberration, vignetting, and automatic exposure. Screen-space reflections, ambient occlusion, and global illumination enable you to achieve realistic effects while minimizing cost.

Color-accurate final output

Composure, Unreal Engine’s built-in compositor, facilitates real-time compositing directly in the Unreal Editor, enabling final-pixel output to be delivered in camera. Individual passes can also be output for offline compositing, while support for OpenColorIO and the ability to output to HDR displays while respecting the ACES standard ensure consistent color throughout the pipeline.

High-quality media output

Create high-quality media for cinematics, marketing materials, and linear entertainment directly from Unreal Engine without post-processing, thanks to the ability to render movies and stills with accumulated anti-aliasing and motion blur. Support for tiled rendering enables you to create extremely high-resolution images, such as those intended for printed output. Multiple render jobs can be queued and rendered without user intervention.

Advanced shading models

Unreal Engine’s advanced shading models include Lit, Unlit, Clear Coat, Subsurface Scattering, Skin, Hair, Two-Sided Foliage, and Thin Transparency, enabling you to produce more realistic results on a wide range of objects and surfaces.

Niagara particles and visual effects

Create film-quality levels of VFX polish in real time for effects such as fire, smoke, dust, and water with completely customizable particle systems in the built-in Niagara visual effects editor. Impact your scene with particle lights; create complex particle motion with vector fields; author effects such as flocking and chains with particle-to-particle communication; and use the audio waveform data interface to have particles react to music or other audio sources.

Clothing tools

Simulate clothing and other fabrics with the Chaos physics solver. Set clothing parameters directly within the Unreal Editor and see your results immediately for fast and easy iteration. Use the Paint Cloth Tool to intuitively select which areas of your mesh will behave like cloth and the degree to which they will be affected by physics.

Chaos physics and destruction system

Chaos is Unreal Engine’s next-generation high-performance physics system. Using Chaos’s Destruction feature, you can fracture, shatter, and demolish massive-scale scenes at cinematic quality with unprecedented levels of artistic control. Chaos also supports static mesh dynamics, cloth, hair, and rigid-body animation for dangling items such as pony tails, and is integrated with Niagara for secondary effects such as dust and smoke.

Strand-based hair and fur

Simulate and render hundreds of thousands of photoreal hairs at up to real-time speeds from grooms created in DCC packages, for more convincing human characters and furry or hairy creatures. Strands can follow skin deformations for realistic fur and facial hair. The system features an advanced hair shader and rendering system and integrated Niagara physics simulation via Chaos.

Robust multiplayer framework

For over two decades, Unreal Engine’s multiplayer framework has been battle-tested across many platforms and game types to produce some of the industry’s most compelling multiplayer experiences. Unreal Engine ships with a scalable and proven client/server architecture out of the box to bring instant viability to any project’s multiplayer component.

Advanced artificial intelligence (AI)

Give AI-controlled characters increased spatial awareness of the world around them and enable them to make smarter movements with Unreal Engine’s gameplay framework and artificial intelligence system, controlled through either Blueprints or Behavior Trees. Dynamic navigation mesh updates in real time as you move objects for optimal pathing at all times.

Unreal Motion Graphics UI Designer (UMG)

Create UI elements such as in-game/in-application HUDs, menus, or other interface-related graphics you wish to present to your users with the UMG visual UI authoring tool. Construct your interface from editable Blueprint Widgets for pre-made functions like buttons, checkboxes, sliders, and progress bars.

Variant Manager

With the Variant Manager, you can create and edit variants of your asset that include options for visibility, transforms, and material assignments, and activate or deactivate them in the Unreal Editor or at runtime. This is ideal for design reviews and marketing of configurable products, such as a commercial aircraft that can have different cabin layouts, furnishing, and fittings. Automated generation of variants is possible through a Python API.

Blueprint visual scripting system

With designer-friendly Blueprint visual scripting, you can rapidly prototype and ship interactive content without touching a line of code. Use Blueprints to build object behaviors and interactions, modify user interfaces, adjust input controls, and so much more. Visualize gameplay flow and inspect properties while testing your work using the powerful built-in debugger.

Professional video I/O support and playback

Unreal Engine offers support for 4K UHD video and audio I/O at high bit depths and frame rates on a range of AJA Video Systems and Blackmagic cards, enabling integration of AR and CG graphics into live broadcast transmissions. Full support for timecode and genlock ensures synchronization between multiple different video feeds and signal processing devices.

Unreal Audio Engine

Enhance your project’s audio with a rich audio feature set that includes real-time synthesis, dynamic DSP effects, physical audio propagation modeling, OSC support, layered Sound Concurrency, a Spectral Analyzer for Submixes, and the ability to bake Spectral Analysis curves and envelopes. Recent additions include convolution reverb processing and sound field rendering.

Media Framework

The Media Framework enables the playback of videos inside Unreal Engine. Videos can be scrubbed, paused, or rewound inside a Media Player asset, as well as controlled through C++ or Blueprints Visual Scripting. Supported formats include a range of Apple ProRes formats on Windows, and video encoded with the HAP codec.

Multi-platform development

With Unreal Engine, you can deliver content on a comprehensive range of desktop, console, and mobile platforms, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux PCs; PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch; and iOS and Android mobile devices. 

VR, AR, and MR (XR) support

Unreal Engine provides the highest-quality solution for creating virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) experiences thanks to native integration with the most popular platforms including Oculus VR, SteamVR, Google VR, HoloLens 2, Magic Leap, Windows Mixed Reality, ARKit, and ARCore. And with support for OpenXR, you can future-proof your applications for new devices.

Pixel Streaming

Author interactive experiences such as product configurators or training applications, host them on a cloud-based GPU or on a local server, and stream them to a web browser on a remote PC, Mac, tablet, or phone anywhere in the world—without the need for additional software or porting. 

Remote control protocols

Create custom UIs that enable users to make settings from any device that hosts a web browser, including mobile devices, via a REST-like API—for example, you could control lighting from LED walls on set from an iPad. There’s also support for OSC (Open Sound Control) protocol—an easy-to-use industry standard for bidirectional communication between various devices, sensors, and audio equipment.

Efficient multi-display rendering

Unreal Engine’s production-proven nDisplay system enables you to render real-time content at any resolution, and to display it on multiple physical or projected screens such as Powerwalls, domes, CAVEs, and LED walls. Scenes can be rendered from multiple networked workstations, or from multiple instances of Unreal Engine running on a single workstation; nDisplay ensures that content remains exactly in sync.

Virtual Scouting for filmmakers

Virtual Scouting tools enable filmmakers to use VR to explore the world, determine scene blocking, compose shots by taking screengrabs of the scene, and—most importantly—place themselves in a virtually accurate representation of the filming location to make better creative decisions. Virtual Scouting can be used in conjunction with multi-user editing for collaborative sessions.

Virtual Camera Plugin

Cinematographers working in a virtual production environment can drive cameras in Unreal Engine using an iPad Pro. With ARKit or an optical motion capture system such as Vicon or Optitrack, the position and rotation of the iPad is broadcast wirelessly to the PC, with the PC sending video back to the iPad.

Quixel Megascans

Every Unreal Engine license comes with free access to the entire Quixel Megascans library for use in Unreal Engine. Based on real-world scans, this premium-quality library features thousands of 3D and 2D PBR assets with optimized topology, UVs and LODs, and consistent scale and resolution.

Industry-specific templates

To help you find the right starting point for your project and achieve your intended result in the shortest possible time, Unreal Engine enables you to choose from a variety of useful templates, including ones for collaborative multi-user design reviews on desktop and VR devices, studio lighting with an HDRI backdrop for product design, and highly realistic sun and sky environments for architectural visualization.

Marketplace ecosystem

The Unreal Engine Marketplace has thousands of high-quality assets and plugins to accelerate production and bring new functionality to your work. Access new environments, characters, animations, textures, props, sound and visual effects, music tracks, Blueprints, middleware integration plugins, add-on tools, and full starter kits. Millions of dollars' worth of content is freely available in the Marketplace, with even more content available for purchase.

Sample projects

Explore, adapt, and learn from over 20 sample projects included with Unreal Engine. From photorealistic digital humans, to virtual studios for live broadcast, to Pixel Streaming your car configurator to a remote device, you’ll find a range of samples that will help you get to speed for your own projects in less time.

Full access to C++ source code

With free access to the complete C++ source code, you can study, customize, extend, and debug the entire Unreal Engine, and complete your project without obstruction. Our source code repository on GitHub is continually updated as we develop features in our own mainline, so you don’t even have to wait for the next product release to get your hands on the very latest code.

Seamless Perforce integration

The Unreal Editor has deep compatibility with Perforce, bringing many version control commands directly into the Content Browser. Manage your projects and monitor asset status more closely with in-editor icons and actions, share assets and code with other team members, and roll back changes to an earlier version at any time.

Profiling and performance

Unreal Engine includes a large number of tools to help you profile, analyze, and optimize your project for real-time performance by identifying and removing bottlenecks. The most recent addition is the Unreal Insights system that collects, analyzes, and visualizes data on UE4 behavior, helping you understand engine performance either live or from pre-recorded sessions.

C++ API

With a robust C++ API, you can add new classes to extend Unreal Engine’s functionality. Designers can then use Blueprint to create custom gameplay or interactions from these building blocks. Live Coding enables you to compile your changes without shutting down the Unreal Editor, so you can quickly test your progress.