One of gaming’s most popular development tools is getting a ton of improvements as the company responsible prepares for the future.
Unity 5.6 is now live, and developers can expect a lot of changes from this latest update. Unity Technologies has also reconfirmed that this is the end of the Unity 5 “cycle.” Moving ahead, the company is switching to a different version-numbering system that will instead incorporate the year. Unity 2017 updates will begin rolling out soon.
As for the 5.6 update, developers can expect the Unity tools to provide a much better experience for adding lighting and particle effects into games. Unity is also getting an overall performance update as well as support for the Vulkan graphics API, which is the power-efficient followup to OpenGL.
“Vulkan support brings increased speed while reducing driver overhead and CPU workload,” reads the Unity blog. “This leaves the CPU free to do additional computation or rendering and saves on battery life for mobile platforms.”
The update also introduces a 4K video player with the capability of running 360-degree videos for virtual reality. Unity is also bringing in native support for new platforms. Developers can export their games for Facebook’s Gameroom service, Google’s Daydream VR headsets, and — most notably — Nintendo Switch.
Studios have already released Unity games for the Switch. Those include Super Bomberman and Snipperclips, which both used Unity 5.5. Now, with native support, developers will have an easier time building and optimizing their play experiences for the hybrid home/handheld Nintendo Switch device.
Unity has pumped a ton of other upgrades into 5.6 including stabilized multiplayer, better iOS crash reporting, new features for physics in 2D games, and more. You can read a full, detailed changelog on the official site.
Looking ahead, the company also explained why it is changing to Unity 2017.
“After Unity 5.6, we will introduce a new version numbering system starting with the 2017.x cycle for all releases in 2017,” reads a company blog post. “We’ve made this change to clearly mark the end of the Unity 5 cycle, and align with our release cadence. With Unity 2017 we will continue shipping new versions regularly, to ensure a steady stream of new tech and improvements. We think a date-based version numbering system better reflects this approach to ship and iterate faster.”