Epic Games has announced the release of the public version of Unreal Engine 5.2. The latest edition of the software boasts an updated lighting system called Lumen, an improved set of tools for freezing prevention, and a refined version of the Nanite geometry.
Enhanced Lighting System: Lumen
The Unreal Engine 5.2 comes with an experimental Precomputed PSO Caching system, which was first introduced in version 5. This system, aimed at reducing stutters in DirectX 12 games, has seen improvements in terms of performance and stability. The PSO now also supports object draw skipping. The number of caches for compilation in Unreal Engine 5.2 has been reduced through algorithm optimizations, allowing the engine to skip the cache that won’t be used. Developers now have the ability to combine the old manual caching system with the automatic one.
Advanced Geometry Virtualization: Nanite
Regarding the Nanite geometry virtualization system, it’s important to note the introduction of custom depths and stencils, as well as lighting channels and global culling planes. Developers can create variable-precision normals to achieve high-quality reflections, for example, on vehicles. The Nanite Streamer system, which extracts geometric data from the disk, has also seen improvements in performance and stability.
Improved Ray Tracing and Shading
The Lumen lighting system has received enhancements in global illumination and occlusion for intricate character geometry. Ray tracing now utilizes asynchronous computations by default for consoles, and the feature of creating high-quality transparency reflections has gained support for material roughness. Hardware ray tracing has also gained support for double-sided foliage and can better approximate secondary reflections from reflections.
Other Notable Features and Improvements
In the official announcement on the developer’s website, Epic Games mentioned the added support for asynchronous computations for embedded ray tracing passes, as well as more accurate ray-traced shadows for Rect Lights. Notably, surface rendering for humanoid character skin types has been improved.
Finally, Unreal Engine 5.2 expands the capabilities of Variable Rate Shading (VRS) from augmented reality devices to desktop computers and introduces Contrast Adaptive Shading (CAS). The latter allows the system to analyze the previous frame and understand which areas should be rendered with reduced shading speed.