Unity 2018.3 has many improvements and additions like improved Prefab workflows, including nesting, as well as enhancements to our Scriptable Render Pipeline, Terrain system and scripting runtime, and a preview of the Visual Effect Graph.
Over the years, one of the most requested features has been the ability to nest Prefabs. After conducting numerous interviews, usability tests and research at game jams, however, Unity found out that a lot of you also needed several other changes to the Prefab workflows. Therefore, Unity has been improving the whole system with a focus on reusability, control and user-friendliness.
The new Prefab workflows allow you to split up scenes and Prefabs on a granular level. They give you greater flexibility, increase your productivity and enable you to work confidently without worrying about making time-consuming errors.
Continuing our focus on workflow improvements, Unity 2018.3 now has unified Settings windows for Project Settings and Preferences. The new windows are dockable and searchable, which makes it much more convenient to quickly find and change settings.
The default scripting runtime is now .NET 4.x. The old .NET 3.5 runtime has been deprecated and support for it will soon be dropped. Projects that target the .NET 4.x scripting runtime will be able to use the open-source Roslyn compiler.
In this release, we also added a PhysX 3.4 upgrade that comes with improvements to stability and performance as well as support for multiple worlds and C# Job queries.
The world-building 2D Tilemap tool now enables you to build isometric Tilemaps, which makes it easier to create 2D projects such as strategy, tycoons and simulation games.
Unity 2018.3 also ships with an update to the Terrain system, which marks the beginning of a larger overhaul. In this update, our focus has been not only to set the foundation for further improvements with a few tweaks to the UI and tools but also to improve performance. We also added High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) and Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP) support.
Unity 2018.3 includes a number of improvements to the HDRP (preview). This version adds preliminary support for VR and multisample anti-aliasing and improves support for PC, Mac, XBox One and PS4. The UI of various Inspectors of HDRP elements is now updated: Camera, Lights, Reflections Probe, and Material. Finally, we added a new lighting model, so you can author more complex materials.
We are also introducing the GPU Progressive Lightmapper in Preview for Windows and several improvements to lighting.
Our new Visual Effect Graph, which ships in Preview as a package, enables you to create beautiful effects using a node-based system that is both easy to use and flexible. Inspired by leading VFX software tools for films, it empowers artists to create stand-out visual effects for games and other projects with millions of particles running on the GPU.
Unity 2018.3 also includes several new features for the existing Particle System. For example, there are Particle Meshes that can now be flipped just like with billboards, Particle Lights that now support Real-time Global Illumination, and the new Ringbuffer Mode, which makes it easier to create persistent effects like footprints or bullet holes by keeping particles visible after their lifetime expires and until they are replaced.
Mobile improvements include Dynamic Resolution Scaling support for Vulkan and Metal, Android AppBundle generation support and faster APK package build times on Android with APKzlib.
For XR, we added Native Support for Daydream Controllers, Haptics APIs for VR controllers, and updates to the AR Foundation as well as XR Performance Testing.
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Editor & workflows
Nested Prefabs and improved Prefab workflows
Flexible properties increase efficiency
Avoid time-consuming mistakes
User preferences & settings windows
Package Manager updates
Updates to the Hub
Back in September, we launched the Unity Hub 1.0, our new connected desktop app designed to streamline onboarding and production processes by offering a central place for managing your Unity projects, licenses, Editor installations and add-on components. The new Hub v1.2 release includes the ability to download and install the legacy Unity Editor builds directly in the Hub via the Unity download archive URLs. Users who depend on specific (older) versions of the Editor for their projects can now easily access them from the Hub with one click.
As more features and updates are distributed as Packages, the new Package Project Updater will help streamline the upgrade process via the Hub. This helps ensure that your project packages, scripts and Project library are compatible when migrating projects from a prior Unity release to a newer version.
A Package Update log file is also provided to help with debugging, so you can keep track of the migration status on each affected project level.
Visual Studio Code Debugger for Unity extension
We’ve updated the debugger extension for Visual Studio Code, an open-source, code-optimized editor available on macOS, Windows, and Linux. The Debugger for Unity extension provides debugging support for C# scripts in a lightweight environment, and the latest 2.x version adds various improvements, including support for the Mono 4.x scripting runtime. To get started, follow the setup instructions on the Visual Studio Code site.
If you’re looking for a more integrated and feature-rich C# editing and debugging environment, there’s also Visual Studio and Visual Studio for Mac. Check out this documentation to get started.
In 2018.3, we upgraded from NVIDIA PhysX 3.3 to 3.4. The upgrade doubles the speed of operations such as raycasting, shape sweeping and mesh cooking. It also improves support for detecting collisions with fastly rotating objects and adds enhanced determinism ensuring the same simulation result when all the inputs are exactly the same.
We are also expanding on what’s available from PhysX in the C# Job System. This allows you to utilize most collider types asynchronously and off the main thread, allowing for significant performance improvements on multi-core hardware. The PhysX 3.4 upgrade also comes with improvements to stability and performance. Finally, there is now support for multiple worlds and C# job queries.
You can now create multiple physics scenes (as opposed to just one scene populated with all the bodies and colliders). This change enables you to specify whether a given Unity scene uses the default physics scene, or needs its own local one for both 2D and 3D physics.
Learn more about in this blog post on Unity 2018.3 physics.
2D Isometric Tilemaps
This is an example of a 2D game level laid out in an isometric grid. Art courtesy of Max Heyder Art (Golden Skull) available on the Unity Asset Store.
2D Animation v2
Ordered mesh shape emission
External Forces module upgrade
Visual Effect Graph (Preview)
Spaceship VFX graph demo showcased at Unite LA 2018
Join the 2019.1 alpha
If you are curious to see what’s coming next, Unity 2019.1a is the first Unity alpha available to everyone.
Although there is a higher probability that you will encounter bugs than in a beta version, as an alpha user, you will get access to new features sooner, be able to test the compatibility of the new version with your projects, provide feedback, and get problems in Unity fixed sooner.
As an alpha user, you will also get to connect with our experts, share insights with experienced members of the Unity community, and influence the future of Unity with surveys, feedback and the chance to be invited to user roundtables.