Meta Quest now officially supports Unreal Engine 5
Unreal Engine 5 is almost one year old. Now Meta is transitioning its support from the older to the newer engine.
Unreal Engine 5 was officially launched on April 5, 2022. On November 15, Epic Games released version 5.1, which reportedly brought the engine's two most prominent new features to VR: the new geometry and lighting systems Nanite and Lumen.
Meanwhile, Meta was working on the transition to UE5. Now that work is complete: On the Oculus Developer Blog, Meta writes that Meta Quest now officially supports Unreal Engine 5.1. The name of the corresponding plugin has also been changed from OculusVR to MetaXR.
Meta drops support for Unreal Engine 4
The v49 update of the Unreal Engine 4 integration will be the last to contain new features for Unreal Engine 4, according to Meta, while v55, scheduled for May 2023, will bring the final patch for the UE4. After the release of v55, VR Tech support will no longer support tickets related to UE4. Critical bug fixes will continue to be released until the end of 2023.
For developers, not much will change: they will still be able to publish XR applications based on Unreal Engine 4 to the Meta Quest Store and App Lab. In fact, Meta recommends to not upgrading if you are in the middle of an Unreal Engine 4 project.
The reason is that Unreal Engine 5 includes "many significant feature upgrades and architectural changes", the latter of which could cause performance issues. Meta makes clear that developers who want to continue using Unreal Engine 4 even after v55 will have to do without new features.
Meta Quest 1 is no longer supported
Studios starting a new VR project with Unreal Engine are advised to start with Unreal Engine 5. Meta provides a documentation to help you get started.
With the transition to the new graphics engine, Meta points out the following changes:
- OpenXR is the only VR API supported by Meta in UE5.
- UE5 doesn't include support for hardware geometry tessellation. Nanite is the intended substitute for this functionality—however, Nanite is not available on Meta Quest.
- The Unreal Lightmass tool is no longer built by default because Unreal’s default workflow now uses Lumen. Therefore, you must build the Lightmass project manually if your project uses baked lights.
- The first Meta Quest is not supported. However, Meta plans to provide an upgrade path for developers.
We'll have to wait and see what gameplay or graphical improvements Unreal Engine 5 might bring. They should only affect a few VR projects anyway, as the
vast majority of Meta Quest games are developed with Unity.
One exception is the graphically impressive sci-fi game Red Matter 2 (review), which uses a heavily modified version of Unreal Engine 4.