Unite 2022 recap: DirectX 12, Ray tracing on Xbox, and more

More of the future of Unity game development with Microsoft was revealed this week at its annual conference.

November 04, 2022
person sitting at a table playing chess

This week, the team at Unity shared their vision for the future of game development at Unite 2022, the company's annual conference where they unveil the roadmap for powering ambitious games and share updates on the latest and greatest features in their much-used development platform. It's also been a big year for our partnership with Unity, starting with the announcement in August that Unity would be using Azure to empower game creators everywhere.

Now, the team at Unity has revealed new features that will further strengthen our relationship while simultaneously giving developers around the world greater power and flexibility to bring their visions to life.

Find better performance with DirectX 12

As most game developers are all too aware of, there are many challenges when developing stable and performant games across all Windows platforms. There are a seemingly infinite number of hardware configurations and variables to consider – different CPUs, GPUs, performance, memory, power and so on. Done right, the sky's the limit – earlier this year, more than half of the top 20 games on Steam were made with Unity.

To help make development for Windows easier than ever, DirectX 12 has been through extensive testing in Unity and is now out of its experimental phase. Not only does the Unity team now recommend that developers use DirectX 12 to build their projects, Direct X12 is now the default graphics API in Unity on Xbox and Windows due to the performance improvements.

chart showing DirectX 12 performance at 426 FPS compared to DirectX 11 performance at 312 FPS

When used by Unity developers, DirectX 12 provides better CPU utilization and supercharging advanced graphics features like DirectX ray tracing. This means you'll be able to move beyond DirectX 11 to a more modern API that's supported on the majority of Windows-based hardware.

What's more, in Unity's 23.1 Tech Stream, you'll see better performance than DirectX 11 for CPU-bound applications. Further CPU and GPU improvements will also unlock support for graphics jobs in the Editor. So when you're rendering large scenes, you'll definitely appreciate improved responsiveness.

See the future of ray tracing on Xbox

This evolution also means that Unity will be moving DirectX ray tracing out of Preview next year.

We've already seen some fantastic games with DX12, and now you'll be able to implement these advanced graphics features. During the keynote, the team shared a new look at their flagship demo Enemies, this time built using DirectX 12 to and running on Xbox Series X. The demo featured everything from ray traced reflections to dynamic lighting, so be sure to check it out (beginning at the 1:01:06 mark) during the full Unite 2022 keynote below.

That's the same level of performance and graphic fidelity that the Unity team had previous shown running on high-spec PCs, including the ray traced effects that will be available for Xbox in the coming Tech Stream. All of this is great news if you're targeting high-end devices for your game.

Unity games are coming to Windows on ARM

Unity games will be coming to Windows on ARM with native performance. With the availability of Windows Dev Kit 2023 (aka Project Volterra), Unity has committed to bring the Unity Player to Windows on Arm in the Unity 23.1 Tech Stream. This will enable you to target Windows on ARM so games can run with native performance for your current and future games. Learn more about Unity's roadmap in their Unite roadmap session.

These were just a few of the announcements that the Unity team made during their Unite 2022 Keynote. To watch the full keynote or learn more, head over to the Unity blog. To learn more about how Microsoft and Unity are working together, keep an eye out for updates during the .NET Conf 2022 next week.