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Unity 2020.2 TECH Stream is now available for download

December 15, 2020 in Technology | 9 min. read
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With more than 400 improvements, Unity 2020.2 TECH Stream continues our commitment to workflow, stability, and performance enhancements. Check out some of the key highlights below.

We had plans for 2020. We were going to do things better to make Unity better for you. And we did. We reexamined our priorities. We listened to you. We committed to improving performance and quality of life for all users – so you can bring your vision to life faster.

Unity 2020.2 TECH Stream is packed with all the latest features for those with projects in pre-production, or simply for those who want to leverage the most cutting edge tech to achieve a competitive edge. This version of Unity also ensures a smooth upgrade path forward. To get started, download it here today.

Following up on our promise to improve your development experience, in 2020 we shifted our release philosophy. We prioritized quality over quantity and reduced the number of releases to two per year, giving our engineers an extended stabilization phase. 

If you’re about to lock in your production on a specific version of Unity, for maximum stability we always recommend you use the latest Long-Term Support (LTS) version of Unity (that’s why it’s the default download in the Unity Hub), currently Unity 2019 LTS. Unity 2020 LTS, which will include the feature set we’re summarizing below plus further stabilization and bug fixes, will be available in spring 2021.

What’s in Unity 2020.2 TECH Stream?

Unity 2020.2 TECH Stream is available today, and packed with workflow improvements to enhance your productivity and let you focus on your creative process - whatever your role or industry. Iteration and import times are now faster. Workflows are smoother so you can achieve more, quickly. Plus, there are more tools to help you optimize your projects. Let’s dig into some of the features and link you to all the details and resources to get you started. Check out some highlights in the teaser below or jump directly to our overview page for more details.

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Graphics rendering

Unity 2020.2 TECH Stream adds several new features and improvements to the Universal Render Pipeline (URP), bringing it closer to parity with the Built-in Render Pipeline. Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) improves the visual quality of ambient lighting in your scenes. You can lower your build data size and improve loading times and with the new Complex Lit Shader, and you can use Clear Coat maps to simulate materials such as car paint.

The High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) now includes better tools to help you debug lighting and improvements to the decal system. Path tracing supports fog absorption and subsurface scattering for organic materials, and a new depth-of-field mode can produce path-traced images with high-quality defocus blur and more. The latest version of HDRP also brings improvements to ray tracing.

Finally, a new HDRP sample scene is available, which includes multiple setups of physically based light intensities and more. It’s a great starting point for creating realistic scenes with HDRP.

Artist and cinematic tools

To help you stay in your creative flow, several quality-of-life fixes, performance improvements, and better stability enhance the overall artist workflows. You can now also enjoy updated tooling for creating cinematics and other video and film content.

Shader Graph includes several new features that improve the workflow for technical artists, such as better Graph Editor performance. 

VFX Graph updates include Output Events, allowing users to synchronize lights, sound, physical reactions, or gameplay based on spawn events via a delegate interface in C#.  

The Animation Rigging package is now verified. It enables procedural control of animated skeletons at runtime and authoring of new animation clips in the Unity Editor.

For Global Illumination, both GPU and CPU Lightmappers now have a higher bounce limit. In addition, they now use Blue Noise Sampling for improved lightmap quality and have several other improvements with 2020.2.

2D menu items are now streamlined into dedicated top-level menus for object and asset creation. 2D Animation in version 5.0 comes with integrated 2D IK (previously a standalone package), which allows animators using 2D skeletal animation to save time by automatically calculating the position and rotation of a chain of bones following the parent bone in a natural way. In addition, 2D default assets now offer a variety of 2D GameObjects with primitive shapes with appropriate 2D Colliders and other options.

Editor and team workflows

Unity Hub version 2.4.2 has improved workflows for managing projects, downloads, Unity Editor versions, and modules. Quick Search is a handy package that now comes with even more search tokens and the ability to provide contextual completion when typing queries. You can now also search through all the Scenes and Prefabs of your project at once rather than being limited to just the open Scene.

Prefabs import improvements include performance enhancement, scalability, and cacheability. For example, in our tests lookups were sped up by 50x and other use cases were even faster. Prefabs now supports the AssetPostprocessor enabling post-processors to modify the prefab.

We also made several Asset Import Pipeline optimizations and improvements to related technologies that focus on supporting larger teams and larger projects. 

We also made several PhysX improvements available. This includes linking Rigidbody hierarchies to ArticulationBody hierarchies with regular joints with PhysX. 

This release also includes a ton of general quality of life improvements. Arrays and Lists are now reorderable in the Inspector, and you can use the attribute [NonReorderable] to disable this function if you prefer. The Scene move/rotate/scale handle lines are thicker and configurable. When using the texture import pipeline for 2D Array and 3D textures, you can import your flipbook array/3D textures to preview them directly without writing custom C# code. You can now also visualize blend shapes in the Mesh inspector when they are present, and you can drag multiple Prefabs into the Scene simultaneously. If you want to learn more about how we’re prioritizing these tweaks and about the team working on them, check out our recent blog post.

Finally, Unity Distribution Portal updates allow you to set project-level permissions, giving you more options for your team to work with UDP projects.

Programmer tools and performance improvements

As projects grow in complexity, compiling new code changes can become increasingly slower and start impacting your team’s workflow and productivity. In Unity 2020.2, we designed several features to help optimize compilation times. Unity 2020.2 enables the Roslyn Reference Assemblies option by default when compiling C# scripts in the Editor, avoiding unnecessary recompiling of asmdef references. If you make changes that don’t involve code – for example, to materials, shaders or prefabs –  the IL2CPP conversion from .NET assemblies to C++ will now be skipped entirely when building a player. The compilation pipeline also now supports Roslyn analyzers.

Unity Safe Mode allows you to solve script compilation errors at startup. It skips asset import and provides a minimal version of the Editor to bring your project back to a working state before importing non-script assets. 

Unity 2020.2 supports all the newest C# 8 features and enhancements, except for default interface methods. We also fixed the inconsistent Time.deltaTime values that lead to stuttering object movements during gameplay. 

We also made multiple optimization improvements. For example, searches in the Editor scripted importers registration function have tested to be up to 800 times faster. Camera.main has been refactored too, reducing the time it takes to query it, by hundreds of milliseconds in some projects. 

Root Namespace is now available as a new field in the asmdef inspector. The Root Namespace will be used to add the namespace when creating scripts in Unity and in Visual Studio and Rider.

With Editor Coroutines, now out of Preview, you can start the execution of iterator methods within the Editor, similar to how Coroutines inside MonoBehaviour scripts are handled during runtime. Configurable Enter Play Mode is no longer an experimental feature.

Unity Linker received API updates to match Mono IL Linker and can detect some patterns, lessening the need to use link.xml files

You can now add charts in the Profiler Window to get more performance insights and context for either existing or user-generated Profiler statistics. You can now visualize render and memory Profiler stats using the API in Players.

Platforms

With a special emphasis on mobile and augmented reality (AR) development, Unity 2020.2 offers new features and enhancements to make the process even smoother.

In 2020.2, AR Foundation, our multiplatform framework for AR development, now includes support for meshing. AR experiences will blend much more seamlessly into the real world as virtual content can be occluded with real-world objects and realistically interact with the physical environment.

Samsung Adaptive Performance 2.0 comes with new sample projects to showcase different features, including Variable Refresh Rate, Scalers, and Adaptive Performance Simulator extension, to emulate Adaptive Performance on any device.

You can now also target Mac hardware’s next evolution with native support for Apple silicon for the standalone player.

The road to 2021

Our work in 2020 has set a foundation for how we move forward. We are focusing on fewer things and doing them better. We are assigning more resources to improve the quality of the features that are the most important to you. 

You can learn more about our focus areas for 2021 in our recent blog post. To get a glimpse behind the scenes at Unity and meet some of the teams working towards these goals, check out our dev diaries with the Optimization Team and the Quality of Life Team.

Unity 2020.2 is the last TECH Stream of 2020. It will be followed by the Unity 2020 LTS release, currently scheduled for spring of 2021. Unity 2020 LTS will contain all the new features and improvements from the 2020.1 and 2020.2 TECH Streams, as well as all the fixes we’ve added in subsequent updates. This way, the long-term support (LTS) release will bring maximum stability for those aiming to ship their projects in the near future.

Get the full details

Get a full overview of what’s available in the release notes, and visit our Unity 2020.2 overview page to dig into these areas of interest: programmer tools, artist tools, editor and team workflows, graphics and platform support.

Community feedback is everything to Unity. Let us know what you think about Unity 2020.2 in the forums.

2020.2 Beta sweepstakes winners

Thanks to the contribution of the beta community for testing and providing feedback during the Beta phase. As a token of appreciation, those who submitted bug reports during this period were entered in our sweepstakes. The eight winners of an Oculus Quest 2 will be contacted directly once we have processed all submissions.

We will announce the 2021.1 Beta in the coming months,  but you can try the alpha now.

December 15, 2020 in Technology | 9 min. read
Topics covered