What’s New in Unity 2022?
- What Is LTS?
- What’s new in 2022 LTS for Programmers?
- ECS & DOTS
- Adding Multiplayer Tools
- Expanding XR Tools
- Apple Vision Pro
- Programming Optimizations
- What’s new in 2022 LTS for Artists?
- HDR Improvements
- Volumetric Materials
- Upgrading Cloud Layers
- Improving Water System
- Full-Screen Shader Graph
- URP Improvements
- Smoothing Transitions with LOD Cross-Fade
- Rendering with Forward+
- Sampling with TAA
- Adding Decal Layers
- Adding Material Variants
- Where to Go From Here?
Unity 2022.3 has finally been released, so the 2022 stream has moved into LTS. This article will cover many new features that are now considered stable and will have support for the next two years.
What Is LTS?
Unity’s release cycles have two main tracks. Long-Term Support (LTS) gets one main release per year. By the point it releases, most of the new features will have been in development for two years. And an LTS release will update with fixes (but not new features) for at least two years. LTS is the recommended version if you’re about to release your Unity game or app.
The other stream is the Tech Stream. Tech Stream releases have two main releases, with many smaller updates between them. These versions are full of the latest, but not always stable, features and are recommended for developers in the prototyping phase or if they need access to these new features.
At Kodeco, Unity tutorials will always be on the latest Unity LTS version at the time of writing unless covering a new feature available only in the Tech Stream.
So what features have come to the new LTS release? It’s time to look at the most significant updates for programmers and artists in this latest version of the Unity game engine.
What’s new in 2022 LTS for Programmers?
Unity programmers often look forward to improvements in how quickly projects compile and updates to the version of .NET that Unity supports. Some features are tested, withdrawn, and tested again several times before they become a regular part of the software. One such feature in Unity 2022 could be the most important addition to the engine ever.
ECS & DOTS
Probably the most important feature for developers in Unity 2022 LTS is the Entity Component System (ECS) release. Although it has been available as an experimental feature for some time, ECS is finally considered production ready.
ECS allows you to build with the full Data-Oriented Technology Stack (DOTS), which is a shift in design pattern from Object-Oriented development. ECS uses entities rather than GameObjects. By design, it gives control and determinism to memory usage. This allows you to simulate many entities simultaneously to create much larger game experiences than you can with the traditional GameObject approach.
ECS also combines with the Burst Compiler and the C# Job System to take full advantage of your target hardware at both the memory and CPU levels. The deterministic nature of ECS allows you to power Havok Physics for Unity in creating vast and complex physics simulations.
And finally, ECS can also power your multiplayer experience. With a data-driven approach, you can build multiplayer games that support more players, can rely on accurate data and have a faster iteration time than in a traditional object-oriented approach.
Adding Multiplayer Tools
Now, for the next big thing in Unity 2022. Multiplayer support is much less of a headache for developers now due to the suite of tools Unity is making available through Unity Gaming Services (UGS).
UGS supplies solutions for Server Hosting, Matchmaker, Lobby, Voice and Text chat and more. Then, there are the Netcode libraries.
Netcode for GameObjects allows you to add networking capabilities to GameObject & MonoBehaviour workflows with predefined components ready to use out of the box.
Netcode for Entities is a new package for Unity 2022 LTS that enables ECS in a multiplayer environment. It allows you to increase the number of players and support more interactive objects that open up better solutions for MMOs or online shooters.
For a sample of what Netcode for Entities can do, check out the Megacity Sample Project from Unity.
Expanding XR Tools
The XR scene continues to grow with more and more devices coming to the market. Unity 2022 expands its support for the XR space by adding platform support for PlayStation®VR2, Magic Leap 2 and Meta Quest Pro. The XR Interaction Toolkit (XRI) gets an update with core interactions that work cross-platform, along with added hand and eye gaze tracking. Improvements to the device simulator remove the biggest pain point for XR development by allowing in-editor testing.
And that in-editor testing also comes to the AR side of development. AR Foundation 5.1 includes simulation, allowing you to use Play mode to simulate an AR device, which drastically reduces the time to test new features during development.
You might have heard Apple has entered the XR space! Apple announced the Vision Pro at Worldwide Developers Conference. During that presentation, Apple announced that it has partnered with Unity to enable developers to bring their Unity games to the Vision Pro. Although the device and the support aren’t out there yet, Unity 2022 will be the version you need to build on.
What’s interesting is that Unity apps will be able to move between Window, Volume and fully immersive modes with visionOS. What sort of unique ideas can developers come up with that harness the power of this feature?
Of course, alongside all these new toys, developers also get access to a host of upgrades to the engine itself. As mentioned above, the Editor makes more use of the Burst compiler. But further efficiencies are available to asynchronous programming with
await that yield in less time to get in and out of Play mode.
XR isn’t the only build platform to get an upgrade. Unity 2022 enables incremental builds for consoles, saving developers a ton of time. It also introduces support for DirectX 12 on Windows and Xbox, a free performance upgrade for any game using it.
Profiling tools have also been upgraded, including a new Addressable Profiler Module for analyzing your addressable performance. And the new Memory Profiler window allows you to get a much better insight into the runtime memory usage of your application.
The WebGL platform also receives some optimization with improved memory management and diagnostic tools, native C++ multithreading and support for touch controls and texture compression on mobile devices.