During their keynote presentation at this year’s Game Developers Conference, Unity Technologies revealed that Unity 5.6 will be launching on March 31 2017. The release of Unity 5’s final installment coincides with the end of the first quarter, which is set to be followed by the beta version of Unity 2017 in April.
The latest features coming to Unity 5.6 include:
- Progressive Lightmapper speeds up iteration and testing of lighting scenarios and reduces baking times.
- Navigation Mesh system adds AI and pathfinding to more easily control character navigation through giant game worlds.
- New Video Player supports smooth 4K playback to provide immersive video and enable the creation of 360 video experiences.
- Native support for Vulkan graphics API provides better performance across Windows, Tizen, and Android platforms, while consuming less device power.
- TextMesh Pro provides improved control of text formatting and layout through Advanced Text Rendering and is now available for free to users of 5.3+, with native Unity integration coming in Unity 2017.
Additionally, Unity partners Xiaomi and Facebook disclosed new opportunities for Unity creators seeking to break into the Chinese market and launch content on PC respectively:
- Xiaomi, one of the top handset manufacturers and Android app stores in China, is now offering Western developers direct access to the Chinese market; interested developers can learn more in the new Xiaomi-Unity Developer Portal.
- Facebook announced Facebook Gameroom Premium support, inviting developers of premium games—like The Eyes of Ara and Skyhill—to bring their content to the PC gaming platform’s growing portfolio. For developers using Unity IAP to implement payments, the company also announced that Facebook payment support will be available in Unity 5.6.
As the next generation of the Unity game engine, Unity 2017 promises to deliver improvements across graphics, performance, stability and efficiency, as well as a more user-friendly interface for interdisciplinary artists and designers.