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Unity 2021.2 Beta Now Available – Let’s Look at What’s New

The good news is that Unity version 2021.2 beta is now available, and the even better news is that it’s got enough upgrades to put a smile on most developers’ faces.

One of the major changes to the system is the addition of ‘feature sets’ which speed up loading and application of different packages, setting up the work environment on super-fast time. Anything that speeds up program loading is welcome, but what actually are feature sets and how do they work?  

A feature set is a related group of program packages, that are installed and configured in a cogent and logical order to achieve particular outcomes within the base program and get it up and running faster and with greater efficiency. The idea behind this new structure was that Unity wanted to make feature sets as simple to use as possible, and enhance the overall learning experience through a combination of specific samples, supported by appropriate documentation to help the user jump right in and start getting good results straight away.

Feature Sets are an ideal way of presenting start-up options and allow the user decide what they need to do to achieve their program goals, and select the best for the job, without having to understand other parts of the system. Each feature set comes with its own documentation, set out on the Quick Start page, so the user can find everything out about it that they need to and get up and running quickly. 

This new functionality is a major part of the Package Manager, which is now the central point for package installs, and displays a list of all available feature sets along with their descriptions and the packages included for each one. This functional tree structure makes it easy to pick and install only the features that you want.

Aside from the feature sets, Unity 2021.2 also included many previously anticipated elements and coding and general Editor highlights, such as: 

  • Updated Editor. The addition of a Scene View tool overlays, quality-of-life improvements, increased Editor performance optimisation together with an update of the Apple Silicon Editor and the AI Navigation experimental package, as well as the addition of the feature sets as described earlier.
  • Improved scripting. There have been a notable number of performance improvements, as well as Asset Import and Scriptable Build Pipeline optimizations to improve throughput.
  • Profiling: Addition of better connectivity, platform, and Scriptable Render Pipeline (SRP) support in the Profiler, together with Experimental System Metrics Mali Package
  • Improved platform support. Chrome OS support, Android ABB support, Android and WebGL improvements, Adaptive Performance updates, UDP improvements

All of that adds up to a whole lot more functionality, but also includes increased ease of use and a more intuitive interface, which many newbies to Unity will be thankful for. As a commercial company, Unity realises that there is little to be had in making the program impenetrable to new users, and by increasing the basic accessibility, they are ensuring its longevity.   

With a growing number of packages being available, Unity risked becoming too difficult for everyday users to master, but the 2021.2 beta release builds on previous updates to cement it as the development platform of choice for a growing number of users.