Unity Technologies has released Unity 5.3, the latest update to the game engine and development environment, adding support for dynamic raytraced reflections, and overhauling the particle system.
The update also upgrades Unity’s scripting editor and scene management tools, and introduces official support for WebGL as a deployment platform.
Support for Screen Space Raytraced Reflections
From a graphical perspective, the main change in Unity 5.3 is support for Screen Space Raytraced Reflections.
SSRR, used in the recent Unity bedroom demo (above) enable objects to reflect their surroundings more accurately than reflection probes, and provide dynamic reflections of moving objects.
Following the introduction of a unified OpenGL renderer in Unity 5.1, the update also introduces a new OpenGL 4.x core, intended to replace the legacy OpenGL 2.1 backend by Unity 5.4.
The update also introduces “experimental” support for Apple’s Metal graphics API in OS X games.
New particles options
The particles system gets a “substantial” overhaul, adding new controls for particle scaling and orientation, plus the option to use skinned meshes as emission sources.
Rendering performance, both for particles and overall rendering performance, has been improved, although Unity Technologies doesn’t put any figures on that in its announcement.
Improved 2D physics
Unity’s 2D physics system also gets an update, with a Buoyancy effector to simulate floating objects, and new Relative, Target and Friction joint types.
The latter are easier to see in action than to describe in words: you can find demo videos on the Unity blog.
Updated script editor and scene-management tools
For devs, MonoDevelop-Unity, the custom version of open-source scripting environment MonoDevelop shipped with the engine, has been updated, promising an improved debugging workflow.
Unity’s scene-editing tools have also been improved, with the option to split a level into smaller scenes and stream them in on the fly, improving performance.
New deployment platforms
In addition, deployment to WebGL – introduced in preview form in Unity 5.0 – has been made official, both in the core engine and the automated Cloud Build service available to users of the Pro edition.
Support for the Apple TV’s tvOS has been introduced as a separate beta, and will be rolled into future updates.
Unity 5.3 is available now for Windows 7 and above and Mac OS X 10.8+.