When it comes to developing virtual reality (VR) videogames there are two primary engines studios use, either Epic Games’ Unreal Engine or Unity by Unity Technologies. Both highly competitive when it comes to gaining market share, Unity tends to dominate the VR scene due to ease of use while Unreal Engine is known for its graphic fidelity. Unity’s current version 2019.3 – which arrived back in January – has recently been upgraded to reduce that visual divide, making its High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) VR compatible.
Unity’s HDRP targets high-end PCs and consoles, allowing creators to build high-definition and photorealistic visuals. With package version 7.2.0 of the HDRP now verified, Unity has confirmed that all HDRP features are compatible with VR. While that won’t mean a great deal to gamers initially, they’ll certainly notice it in the months to come as developers implement the feature into their project, thus making VR experiences look even better.
VR for HDRP will support a number of VR platforms, Oculus Rift and Rift S, Windows Mixed Reality and PlayStation VR. As the company previously announced Unity 2019.3 will end support for Samsung Gear VR and Google VR, while OpenVR compatibility will be phased out. The latter only because Valve is currently developing their OpenVR Unity XR Plugin for 2019.3 which Unity notes will be available soon.
In a blog posting Unity explains in more detail how developers using the latest version of the videogame engine can utilise HDRP for their VR purposes, from Deferred and Forward rendering and light types, shadows, decals, and volumetrics to Color Grading, Anti-aliasing and Depth of Field.
As for the future of HDRP VR and what Unity will be working on the company lists the following:
- Improving performance with new hardware options like Variable Rate Shading
- Improving platform support with Vulkan and DX12
- Improving devices support
- Extending single pass to support more than two views
For those interested in stepping into VR development Unity is free to download and begin using. It’s only when your revenue or funding exceeds $100K USD over 12 months that you need to start paying. For those with a basic understanding of the engine, last year Unity and Oculus teamed up to create a free course specifically for VR development.
For further updates on Unity, keep reading VRFocus.