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Unreal Engine 4.21 is out, now defaults to the Vulkan API on Linux

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Epic Games have released Unreal Engine 4.21 and it includes some interesting stuff on the Linux side of things.

From now, Unreal Engine will default to using the Vulkan API on Linux and fallback to OpenGL when that can't be used. This is going to be good for the future of Linux games, since it should help developers get better performance.

On top of that, it features a new media player for Linux with the bundled WebMMedia plugin which includes support for WebM VPX8/9 videos. To further improve Linux support, they now have a proper crash reporter interface so that they can "continue to improve support for Linux platforms".

That's just the improvements for Linux, there's absolutely tons more included in this release including Android and iOS optimizations as a result of Epic's work on Fornite.

It's also really nice to see Epic thank contributors, noting 121 improvements where submitted by the community to their GitHub. Although you can only access it with an Unreal Engine account.

More info on the official announcement.

Who knows, maybe now that Vulkan is in better shape in Unreal Engine, Epic Games might eventually bring Fortnite to Linux. I can dream right?

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39 comments
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Psychojau 8 November 2018 at 12:49 am UTC
jasonm
GustyGhostMeanwhile on ARK:SE's upcoming features (since 2016) "Linux - Vulkan support". Here's their chance. But we all know that Wildcard will fail to take advantage of it.

Not that I'm defending Studio Wildcard for their Linux port but it's a lot more to port Ark to Vulkan than a basic UE4 update. Their engine is highly modified and upgrading isn't like installing the new engine, loading the game and tweaking, it's a major undertaking to actually port the new code in the new engine and maintain all their custom code for the game. It's highly unlikely we will see any major improvement as they surely are not getting a lot more sales from Linux clients. It doesn't honestly make sense for them to do all the work involved in porting the engine over to make it happen on a game that likely won't result in many if any more sales. Also, UE4's Linux support is less than ideal to be quite honest. Many devs have a large number of issues so honestly, you can't logically put all the blame on Studio Wildcard, some of that blame goes to Epic. Many of the massive graphics glitches in ark such as the rain, caves, dust, etc was a Linux OpenGL renderer problem that happened to be fixed on accident when they upgraded the engine right before releasing out of EA. I wish for a Vulkan port but realistically I wouldn't hold my breath.

Hi,
I have to admit that it's never easy to port changes from a fork to a new "main" version. And even if you just want to upgrade, well.. Take a look at my youtube video about installing / updating the UE4 Editor https://youtu.be/tbhp-b2WdLw
But please don't think Epic is not supporting Linux or fixing bugs. I have made many bug reports (especially about instancing bug) but everything is fixed now. Really. Even in the slice I made in 4.18 8 months ago (you can see it on my website) for a french youtuber, I had really good performances in the optimized level (go into the "hell" sewer entrance, the "egypt" part is a "melting pot" of ideas and is not optimized at all lol). But I admit, we were never able to use the Volumetric Fog which disapointing but not a deal breaker. OpenGL performances are not bad at all and we can use all the post-process tools. Vulkan wasn't perfect... at all so I didn't use it on that project. There were crazy bugs lol. But Eoic was working on it ,so I can't wait to see what it has become ! ?
My new project is based on 4.20. I didn't try the 4.21 yet, but I want to trust Epic.
Natedawg 8 November 2018 at 2:38 am UTC
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For comparison, if anyone knows, does it default to DX11 or 12 for Windows?
x_wing 8 November 2018 at 4:01 am UTC
TimeFreezeI know. I didnt denied it. He just stated that its probably because Epic doesnt want to pay for the Linux Support of it. I for myself think its because Vulkan is still in an "Early" Stage in Unreal Engine if we look at the Support.

What I said is that it doesn't sounds like there is a problem between their engine and Vulkan, I just said that they are winning tons of money by having a huge player base and using an older API allows them to get to more people as it has been supported for several years, bringing better legacy support (for instance, a GTX 5XX & AMD HD6XXX or older cards doesn't have Vulkan support, but will probably be able to run Fortnite). And about Battleye, I just mentioned that they probably don't want to pay them to get the Linux client (Battleye definitely will want an extra), in the sense that it's an extra cost they think that won't get payback.

From my point of view, the problem to get the port is related with the business model that this game has. We, the Linux market, are a tiny market, meanwhile Fortnite is a game with an exponential revenue growth and with a huge kids players base. So, the issue is not about technical difficulties, but that the revenue speedup that a Linux version could generate is minimum compared with speedup that they will get if they use those resources in order to create a new hat or skin and sell it for hundreds of V-Bucks.
Psychojau 8 November 2018 at 5:05 am UTC
NatedawgFor comparison, if anyone knows, does it default to DX11 or 12 for Windows?

I booted on the Windows I'm keeping for downloading plugins and compiling. Here is a screenshot of the menu that answers your question :
image
devnull 8 November 2018 at 5:23 am UTC
x_wingFrom my point of view, the problem to get the port is related with the business model that this game has. We, the Linux market, are a tiny market, meanwhile Fortnite is a game with an exponential revenue growth and with a huge kids players base.

Don't know about that, a large part of their player base is Asia and they'll play/bot on anything.

QuoteSo, the issue is not about technical difficulties, but that the revenue speedup that a Linux version could generate is minimum compared with speedup that they will get if they use those resources in order to create a new hat or skin and sell it for hundreds of V-Bucks.

Since it is fueling an addiction, directly targeted at kids one has to wonder why no government has really gone after them for that either. Make no mistake, the game had some massive financial support, nothing more. They dumped a shittonne of money into Twitch streamers for the coverage too. Short version is they got lucky.

From a technical perspective the game looks like CRAP with all the render tricks they have to do. Quite frankly the game sounds and game mechanics make it all the more like a slot machine.. Guess what, they DO produce revenue. Difference is one cannot be targeted at kids.

Before anyone says they grew up playing games and turned out OK, we're talking about a completely different class of videogame then what you grew up on.
ison111 8 November 2018 at 8:03 am UTC
I really hope they at least just do a quick build of UT4 with the new engine so we can play it with Vulkan.

Also, what do they have to lose at this point by just building a GNU/Linux version of their games like Fornite?
I mean, even if it doesn't work properly could it possibly hurt their sales at all? Or do they just have Windows specific code somehow that their engine can't build for GNU/Linux?
Natedawg 8 November 2018 at 8:16 am UTC
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Psychojau
NatedawgFor comparison, if anyone knows, does it default to DX11 or 12 for Windows?

I booted on the Windows I'm keeping for downloading plugins and compiling. Here is a screenshot of the menu that answers your question :
image

Thanks, but unfortunately the image isn't showing
wleoncio 8 November 2018 at 9:20 am UTC
Natedawg
Psychojau
NatedawgFor comparison, if anyone knows, does it default to DX11 or 12 for Windows?

I booted on the Windows I'm keeping for downloading plugins and compiling. Here is a screenshot of the menu that answers your question :
image

Thanks, but unfortunately the image isn't showing

You can download the image and open it on your computer. In any case, it lists the targeted RHIs as (and this is a simplification of mine): DX11, DX10, OpenGL 3, OpenGL 4, Vulkan Mobile, Vulkan Desktop. I don't know which one is set as default, but there is a checkbox marked only for DX11 and DX10.

My follow-up question is: what could be the reasons why they haven't set Vulkan Desktop also as the default for Windows?
Ehvis 8 November 2018 at 10:27 am UTC
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wleoncioMy follow-up question is: what could be the reasons why they haven't set Vulkan Desktop also as the default for Windows?

I'm no expect by any means, but watching from the sidelines I see that any non-DX11 renderer appears to have trouble keeping up. This suggests to me that their engine is heavily designed around DX11. So heavily that other backends yield sub par performance. If this is indeed the case, then their core engine may need massive changes to make it match better with the likes of Vulkan (and DX12). So it may be quite some time before anything can beat their DX11 support in performance.
Power-Metal-Games 8 November 2018 at 5:38 pm UTC
Compiled and tried it today. Maximum FPS that I'm getting is ~30 frames for a simple scene. I remember it was the same when I tried Vulkan when it was introduced for the first time in UE4. Although, editor seems to be running fine.

Does anybody knows if there is something that can be done to improve performances?
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