At Unity, we’re looking on with awe at the extremely polished games that have already been released with Unity 5. Games like Cities Skylines – a mammoth success made by a team of just 13, it’s taken gamers by storm with stunning attention to detail and exquisite graphics.
All in all, over 60% of you have already made the transition to Unity 5, with more and more teams making the move every day. This positive response from the Community is something we’re extremely proud of, and it encourages us to believe we’re on the right track.
If you haven’t already ported your game to Unity 5 and are planning to do so, we suggest you check out our helpful upgrade guide and this practical introduction to the graphics powerhouse that is Unity 5.
So, what’s new in Unity 5.1?
The Unity 5.1 release builds on two key Unity 5 strengths: industry-leading multiplatform support, and unmatched efficiency boosted in the cloud. Amongst other things, it brings you a new unified development experience for VR platforms like Oculus Rift and our easy to use Unity Multiplayer networking solution.
Multiplayer made easy
The first phase of our plan to make it significantly easier to make multiplayer games across a host of platforms is now a reality. Thanks to new APIs, all Unity developers can get deep access to just the features they want, as well as a more automated solution that’s easy to use.
Multiplayer Service: In preview, but not for long
Additionally, the Unity Multiplayer Service, including our Matchmaker and Relay Servers, is currently in preview. While that’s the case, you can use the service with up to 100 concurrent users free of charge.
We’ll launch the full service very soon, and anyone using it during the preview stage can benefit from the full service when their game is production-ready! Sign-up here.
Join the VR revolution
With Unity 5.1 we’ve added a highly optimized rendering pipeline for VR and AR devices. Native Oculus Rift deployment is available right now to all Unity users, and we’ll be adding full native support for further platforms, including Microsoft Hololens and Gear VR in the near future.
In Unity 5.1, you can plug in your Oculus Rift dev kit and playtest away, with Unity handling a number of VR/AR-specific features out of the box. Head tracking and an appropriate field of view are applied to your camera automatically and rendered in stereo just like that.
Plus, we’ve already implemented a number of stereoscopic rendering optimizations including single pass culling and shared shadowmaps to help you deliver exceptional frame rates.
There’ll be much more to come from us in the VR space, so stay tuned, and don’t forget that there are lots of third-party SDKs available for those looking to target other headsets!
Across the board improvements
Every release gives us the opportunity to improve the overall quality of our code base. Beyond the bug fixes we’ve done for our weekly patch releases, we’ve fixed over 170 bugs in Unity 5.1.
Additionally, we’ve made over 70 smaller improvements to API usabilities and workflows, with a focus on 2D and animation features. Another significant refactor sees us introduce a new unified OpenGL rendering backend. This helps us eliminate the numerous code paths between devices, and has made analyzing and fixing mobile rendering bugs significantly easier.
As well as introducing our own quality improvements, we also wanted to assist you in improving your game code. With that in mind, we’ve added a Runtime Assertion Library.
Cloud Build adds support for Mercurial source control
Launched with Unity 5, our Cloud Build service saves you time by automating builds for iOS, Android, and the Unity Web Player. Cloud Build has already saved developers over 200,000 hours, making it easier than ever for them to build, share, and test their games.
Today we're announcing support for projects using Mercurial. Cloud Build now supports four types of source control servers: Git, SVN, Perforce, and, with this latest addition, Mercurial.
We wish you every joy of Unity 5.1. For a full rundown of the numerous refactors and improvements it features, check out the release notes!