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Unity 5 Released, Oculus Support ‘Upcoming’

For the past few months videogame developers have been anticipating the launch of Unity 5, the next iteration of the popular development tool set. The wait is now over; Unity 5 has launched. The company’s John Riccitiello announced the news at a press conference at the 2015 Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2015 in San Francisco, California, USA today.

Unity 5 boasts a range of updates over Unity 4. Highlighting the update is a new physically-based standard shader that the company claims will make materials ‘look consistent in any lighting environment’. Also included is real-time global illumination that’s been built on Geomerics Englighten technology. The addition allows for dynamic lighting treatments on all supported platforms. HDR Reflection Probes are also now a part of the toolset.

Unity’s editor now also features an Audio Mixer to allow for improved control over sound in a videogame. 3D physics have also been improved through the use of PhysX 3.3. A more powerful animator rounds out the new additions.

In terms of VR support it appears that Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) integration isn’t yet included. Support for Samsung’s Gear VR is also listed, although it’s not yet clear if this has been added just yet. The engine is available now from Unity’s official website. The tools are available in both Professional and Personal Editions.  The latter is a free solution to ’empower hobbyists’. The Professional Edition costs $75 USD a month for $1,500 for the full package. The company also announced the release of Unity Cloud Build, which allows developers to harness the power of the cloud to aid development.

“Unity 5 is a massive step up for Unity that empowers developers to make more beautiful and intricate games that reach bigger audiences, across more platforms,” Riccitiello said of the announcement. “We want _everyone_ to have access to Unity 5 which is why we’ve increased the value of our royalty-free licenses. Unity 5 Professional starts with the power of Unity 5.0 and adds valuable tools such as Unity Cloud Build Pro and Team License. Unity 5 Personal Edition is for the developer just getting started and offers all the power of the engine and editor for free.”

Unity 4 was a popular choice for VR developers and no doubt that will remain true with Unity 5 once support it added. A handful of virtual reality (VR) compatible videogames have already been working with the beta of Unity 5 over the past few months. These include Grave from Broken Window Studios and Darkfield from VR Bits. Unity 5’s release comes on the back of the news that Epic Games has released its competing engine, Unreal Engine 4, for free.

VRFocus is at GDC 2015 this week to deliver all of the latest updates on VR technology.