This beta introduces many new and improved features across the board like Tessellation for Metal, GPU Instancing support for GI, editor Presets for import settings and components, Dynamic Resolution for PS4, Stereoscopic 360 image and video recording (experimental), experimental sprite animation API, FBX import improvements, new Particle System improvements, and much more.
We'll be posting detailed feature previews on our blog as we progress in the beta cycle, so stay tuned.
New rendering architecture: Scriptable Render Pipeline (aka SRP)
As part of the Unity 2018.1 release, we will introduce a new real-time rendering architecture option known as Scriptable Render Pipeline (SRP). We will roll out SRP iteratively adding new functions and improvements with each new release. SRP places the power of modern hardware and GPUs directly into the hands of developers and technical artists, without having to digest millions of lines of C++ engine code. SRP is an extensible and powerful option that makes it easy to customize the rendering pipeline via C# code and material shaders.
We will provide out-of-the-box templates that take advantage of SRP and are optimized for different scenarios, starting with Lightweight and High-Definition pipelines. The Lightweight one targets general cross-platform scenarios, and the High-Definition one is for a scenario with ambitious graphical goals aimed at the most powerful platforms like high-end PC/consoles.
SRP is in the experimental stage, and you can, of course, continue to use the built-in rendering pipeline and its various configuration options.
New Shader Graph tool for artists: visual shader creation
The new Shader Graph, which is designed to work with the SRP, enables you to build shaders visually. Instead of hand-writing code, you can create and connect nodes in a graph network with previews at every step to help you design and debug your shaders.
How to get your hands on SRP and the Shader Graph
In the next iterations of the beta, we will integrate these elements in a friendly user workflow for creating and using projects. But if you can't wait to try them out, we made a simple sample that uses SRP, built on the Lightweight pipeline, and also includes the Shader Graph tool.
Coming soon: the C# Job System
During the beta 2018.1 cycle, we will also make the C# Job System & the experimental Entity Component System available. These will make it easier to write safe, multithreaded code and increase performance.
Changes to System Requirements
- We are removing built-in support for import of Substance Designer materials in the editor, however, you will still be able to import and use Substance Designer materials in your projects using an external importer provided by Allegorithmic. Read more about the background for this decision.
- Wii U support removed
- Removed support for Windows XP in standalone player builds. Windows Vista is now the earliest supported OS for Windows standalone player.
- We have also deprecated support for MonoDevelop meaning that Visual Studio is now the recommended and supported C# editor on both macOS and Windows.
- Unity Editor macOS system requirements have changed to macOS 10.11, as this is required for Visual Studio for Mac, and thus we now also require that for the editor.
Legacy Particle System retirement
Unity 2018.1 marks the beginning of the removal of the Legacy Particle System. Our target is to fully remove the Legacy Particle System in Unity 2018.2. It was replaced by a new system (Shuriken) in Unity 3.5 and has been fully deprecated since Unity 5.4. Our analytics show almost non-existent usage, which prompted us to take the step of removing the Legacy Particle System.
If this affects you, you have some options:
- Migrate your Legacy Particle Systems to Shuriken
- Use our auto-updater script to attempt automatic conversion
- Reach out to us for help here.
You can see some examples on the latest particle system improvements from 2017.3 here.
What to expect
As with any beta program, you'll have early access to features that are still under development. That means you'll experience Unity as less stable than the final version. The beta test is currently expected to run until March and several beta versions will be made available in that time.
Info on the Mixed Reality 17.3 beta sweepstake winners
We have contacted the three lucky beta participant winners to tell them that their Acer Mixed Reality Headset and motion controller prize, which was sponsored by Microsoft, is on its way. Stay tuned for more info on upcoming beta sweepstakes!
Get early access now
It's simple to get started and participate in the beta process. Simply head over to our beta testing section, read our guide and download the installer to get access to the 2018.1 beta.
We also encourage you to sign up for the optional beta tester email list below. Signing up will enable us to send you notifications when new versions are available, as well as tips on how to be an effective beta tester.
The beta release is available for free to all Unity users, including Personal Edition users. In the release notes section, you'll find a complete list of all the new features, improvements and bug fixes included in the release.