A few weeks ago, Epic Games unveiled the 5.3 developer roadmap, and the preview version is already available for download. As expected with any preview release, this one comes with its fair share of quirks and bugs, so I wouldn’t use this for a production build of your game if I were you! To install it, just open the Epic Games launcher, head over to the Unreal Engine tab (of course) and tap the plus button at the top.
Here’s what’s new
One of the most notable features of the preview is the in-engine Skeletal Editor. Select your character skeleton, click “Skeleton” on the left side bar and then click “Edit skeleton”. Here, you’ll be able to move and rotate bones, and even add new ones without even needing to open Maya or Blender!
With this comes tools for weight painting and skinning, which is pretty wild. I’m still likely going to use Blender for this kind of stuff, but it’s clear that Epic is working towards making Unreal the full package for your development pipeline.
Further improvements to Lumen, Nanite, and Path Tracing are also baked right in. Thanks to the forum post by the Epic Games staff, we know that Multi-process Cook is also being introduced, and will help to reduce build times – hooray!
Sparse Volume Textures and Volumetric Path Tracing have been added as experimental features in this preview. These should make it easier for you to add new elements to volumetric effects like smoke and fire. Moreover, there’s also support for Orthographic rendering, useful for architecture and manufacturing visualizations. Lastly, cloth tooling with the Panel Cloth Editor and ML Cloth have been iterated upon. Keep in mind, as these features are still labeled ‘experimental,’ they might not make it into the final release, though I hope they do and think they will.
Overwhelmed by Installs
Admittedly, the rapid-fire release of these previews is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s exciting to see the constant evolution, but on the other, it can feel a bit overwhelming. If you’re like me, you probably have about half a dozen versions of Unreal Engine cluttering up your storage.
As for me, I’m probably going to hold off on using this for my project for now. At this rate, it’s starting to make more sense for me to skip two or three preview releases before migrating, but tell me in the comments what you’ll end up doing and if you’re going to download 5.3 when it releases officially.