When learning game development, people often wonder about what the best game engine is – in fact, we’ve done a whole entire article on the matter. In terms of versatility, power, popularity, and use in the industry – there are two that most people talk about though: the Unity game engine and the Unreal Engine.
Answering which one is better is a difficult matter. Some will argue Unreal is better simply for the fact it is a top choice for AAA studios. Others, however, will cite the fact that Unity is more well-rounded and, for indie developers, is often a better entry into the industry. Objectively, though, is one better than the other?
In this article, we’ll be going over the pros and cons for each engine and have a true battle of Unity vs. Unreal. We will also help you get started with learning both so no matter your ultimate decision, you can jump into creating your own games right away. Let’s get started, and hopefully by the end, you will be able to make an informed choice about which game engine is the engine of your dreams.
As a game developer, you might want to experiment with different types of games – 3D, 2D, multiplayer, VR, etc. Having an engine which caters to a wide range of games is important and luckily, both Unity and Unreal do just that. Let’s have a look at a range of different game types and which engine would be best suited for them:
- 3D – Both engines have great 3D capabilities, although Unreal is best in terms of graphical fidelity.
- 2D – Both engines can do 2D, although Unity has a much larger focus and tool-set.
- Virtual Reality – Unity excels in VR as the plugins are very versatile and integrate into the overall XR infrastructure.
- Augmented Reality – Both engines can do AR, although Unity has been doing it for longer and has much more defined systems.
- Multiplayer – Both engines can do multiplayer, although Unreal is the only one with integrated support. Unity’s integrated multiplayer is still in-development although there are many 3rd-party frameworks.
- Mobile – Unity is considered the best engine for mobile.
When starting out with a game engine, what language you code in can be a determining factor. In Unity, you write code using the C# language, while in Unreal you use C++. Generally, C++ is considered a more difficult language to learn, although Unreal has its own integrated visual scripter called Blueprints. Visual scripting is a great alternative to coding as it allows you to do the same things – yet with no coding required. Just create nodes and connect them together in order to develop logic for your game.
If you are looking to code, Unity may be the easier option with C#, although if you don’t want to code you can use Unreal’s Blueprints.
You may choose a game engine based on what the professionals are using. Both Unity and Unreal are used to create games on the market, but in different ways.
First, Unity is the most popular engine for indie developers and mobile games. There are a number of larger games made with Unity such as: Hearthstone, Cities: Skylines, Rust, Ori and the Blind Forest, and most mobile games.
In terms of the AAA-industry, Unreal is used more than Unity. Games such as: Fortnite, Bioshock, Sea of Thieves, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, and a large number of others use the engine.
Something to also keep in mind is how the engine developers themselves use it. Unity don’t create their own games apart from small educational projects. Epic Games (developers of the Unreal Engine) on the other hand, have developed many games such as: Fortnite and Gears of War using the Unreal Engine.
An important aspect of a game engine is the community. Both engines have a pretty large online presence, with their own respective forums, Sub-Reddits, YouTube channels and more.
- Unity – has a yearly game developer convention called Unite. Most game development YouTubers focus on using and teaching Unity.
- Unreal – Epic Games has more of a presence online with live tutorials.
Both engines also have their respective asset stores. An asset store is a marketplace for 3D models, textures, systems, etc for an engine which you can get for free or a price. These can be great for developers who may not be the best artist or lack knowledge in a certain area.
Both Unity and Unreal have great learning resources. Documentation, tutorials, online courses, etc. Below we’ve listed a number of different courses on Unity and Unreal.
- (Paid) Unity Game Development Mini-Degree
- Unity 101 – Game Development and C# Foundations
- (Paid) RPG Academy – From Zero to Creating Games
- How to Program in C# – by Brackeys
- C# Tutorial by Derek Banas
- C# Basic Series by Allan Carlos Claudino Villa
- (Paid) Unreal Game Development Mini-Degree
- Unreal Engine 101 – 3D Game Creation
- How to Program in C++ – by The Cherno
- Beginner’s Guide to Game Development with Unreal Engine by Daniel Buckley
- Creating Games For Beginners Using UE4 by DevSquad
We’ve let our battle of Unity vs. Unreal play out, but let’s turn back to our original question: which engine should you use?
Ultimately, this will depend on you and your needs. However, if we might be so bold, we can at least say the following:
- If you’re a beginner looking to learn how to code and create a wide range of games – go with Unity.
- If you’re not interested in coding and want better graphical performance – go with Unreal.
Overall, these are still quite surface-level statements, so we recommend you try both before making any decision. However, as you try these engines out, you can keep the information here in mind, as there are things to consider you can’t learn by doing! Even so, remember there’s no best game engine – there’s only the game engine you feel most comfortable using. Whether you pick Unity or whether you pick Unreal Engine, the world is at your fingertips. So get out there, and create some amazing games and apps!