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Unity and Unreal Engine


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Unity vs Unreal: Which Game Engine Should You Choose?

Posted in Unity, Unreal Engine
Unity vs Unreal

Game Engines are software development environments with pre-built gaming components that game developers can use to plan and build interactive video game frameworks for PCs, consoles, mobile devices, and more.

These game design tools provide developers with ready-to-use features like a physics engine, 2D and 3D rendering, AI, object collision detection, sound, color, scripting, and more, all without the need to code these elements from the ground up.

There are several game engines on the market, but we’ll focus on the popular question of Unity vs Unreal. So, is Unreal Engine better than Unity, or vice versa? Let’s find out.

To get started, we’ve compiled a quick summary of the differences when considering Unity vs Unreal Engine.

Unity vs. Unreal: Head-to-Head Comparison

 

Unreal Engine

Unity

Engine Type

Cross-platform

Cross-platform

Developed by

Epic Games

Unity Technologies

Programming Languages

C++ for development

C# for development

Usage

Develop games for PCs, mobiles, consoles, and more

Develop games for PCs, mobiles, consoles, and more

Features

A robust multiplayer framework, VFX, and particle simulation

2D improvements, animation, creating snapshots

Source Code

Open-source

Not open-source.

Pricing

Free

Basic version is free

Learning Curve

Difficult to learn

Easy to learn with an intuitive interface

Graphics

Photorealistic graphics used in AAA games

Good overall graphics, but less refined than Unreal

What is Unity?

Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies and released at Apple’s 2005 World Developer Conference (WDC).

Unity provides support for over 25 gaming platforms, including PCs (Windows, macOS, Linux), consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, etc.), and several virtual reality (VR) platforms like PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, to name a few.

Many users have adopted the Unity game engine as it allows them to create and experience 2D, 3D, and VR games. It has also been adopted by a variety of industries outside of gaming, including film animation and effects, automotive, architecture, engineering, and construction.

If you’d like to learn how to use Unity to create games, check out the best Unity courses for game development and the best Unity books.

The History of Unity So Far

  • 2005: Unity launched for Mac OS X
  • 2007: Unity 2.0 launched with 50 new features
  • 2008: Unity added support for iPhone after Apple launched the App Store
  • 2010: Unity 3.0 launched with expanded graphics tools and Android support
  • 2012: Unity 4.0 launched & Unity named top mobile game engine by Game Developer magazine
  • 2013: Facebook adds SDK integration for Unity games
  • 2015: Unity 5.0 launched with increased platform support, improved HD graphics, lighting, and audio, and VR support
  • 2017: Unity 5.6 (Unity 2017) launched with real-time graphics rendering and integration with 3D design tools 
  • 2017: Unity 2017.2 released with added cinema and video tools 
  • 2018: Unity 2018 launched as first engine with integrated Machine Learning (ML) tools, alongside scriptable render pipeline 
  • 2019: Data oriented tech stack (DOTS) released to improve processing
  • 2020: Introduced Mixed and Augmented Reality Studio (MARS)
  • 2021: Unity 2021 launched with enhanced multiplayer libraries and HD rendering

Key Features of Unity

  • Easy to understand workflow and architecture for fast game development
  • High-quality game creation via AAA graphics, smooth frame rates, and HD audio
  • Unity Scripting API gives precise control over game features
  • Dedicated tools make it easy to create 2D or 3D games
  • One-click game deployment on all platforms, including PCs, mobiles, or consoles
  • Ready-to-use game assets from the large Asset Store lowers development time
  • Can use in-house packages & assets to extend the Unity engine
  • Range of render pipeline options to optimize game performance
  • Ability to create and destroy custom game objects

Games Made Using Unity

When asking the question, is Unity better than Unreal Engine, it helps to see what aspiring Indie game developers and game studios have produced with the Unity game engine. And the results are some of the most popular games available:

  • Pokémon Go
  • Call of Duty: Mobile
  • Cuphead
  • Monument Valley
  • Ori and the Blind Forest/Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Fall Guys
  • Hollow Knight

Unity Game Engine Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

Free to use

Lower graphic quality than Unreal Engine

C# code is fast for development

Asset store quality is variable

Easy to learn

Less popular with AAA gaming studios

Huge user base

Lacks real-time multiplayer abilities

Extensive 2D game support

Lack of open-source code base

Vast asset store

Complete C# Unity Game Developer 3D

What is Unreal Engine?

The first generation of Unreal Engine was released in 1998 by Tim Seveeny (founder of Epic Games), with its opening showcase being the first-person shooter (FPS) game, Unreal.

Unreal Engine is known for its portability and support for various platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs, gaming consoles (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, etc.), and iOS and Android mobiles.

Since its arrival, Unreal Engine has proved to be a strong choice for creating high-definition graphics and next-generation physics effects, resulting in a reputation as the industry standard while nabbing various awards along the way.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that many aspiring game developers opt for Unreal when choosing a game engine.

Whether you’re new to game development or looking to expand your skills to include Unreal, check out these courses to learn how to use Unreal Engine.

The History of Unreal Engine So Far

Unreal Engine First generation

  • 1995: Tim Seveeny began its development
  • 1998: debuted with FPS game, Unreal
  • 1998: Integrated UnrealEd editor, innovative graphics, colors, and textures 
  • 1999: 16 external projects were using the technology

Unreal Engine 2

  • 2002: Launched with enhanced rendering, cinematic editing, and integrated support for 3D libraries. Multiplayer shooter, America’s Army was the first release
  • 2002: Unreal Championship was one of the first games on Xbox Live
  • 2003: Karma Physics Engine for vehicle physics via collisions and rigid body contact used with Unreal Tournament 2003
  • 2004: Unreal Tournament 2004 offered enhanced vehicle physics for large-scale tournaments via Karma Physics Engine

Unreal Engine 3

  • 2006: Released for Windows, PS3, and XBOX 360 with support for high-dynamic range rendering and programmable shader hardware
  • 2006: First games, Gears of War for Xbox 360 and Robobiltz for Windows
  • 2010: Android and iOS support
  • 2011: Added support for Adobe flash player for Wii U development
  • 2013: Collaborated with Mozilla to offer support for web-based games

Unreal Engine 4

  • 2014: launched with BluePrints visual scripting for non-coders, along with enhanced illumination features to replace precomputed lighting effects
  • 2014: Implemented monthly subscription payment model and 5% royalty fee for games built with Unreal Engine
  • 2015: Offered for free with access to future updates, but 5% royalty fee still applied for games that generate sufficient revenues

Unreal Engine 5

  • 2022: Launched with Nanite engine, allowing users to import 3D rendered graphics or photographs to create photogrammetric worlds, Lumen to replace lightmaps with enhanced lighting, and Shadow Map for improved shadows
  • 2022: Optimized for next-generation games consoles, including PlayStation 5 and Xbox series X
  • 2022: 5% royalty fee for game sales unless sold on the Epic Games Store

Key Features of Unreal Engine

  • Blueprint visual scripting system for non-coding game developers
  • Unreal Audio Engine and MetaSounds for rich audio 
  • Support for Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and VR
  • Pipeline integration for FBX, USD, and Python scripting
  • World building and landscape editing with the Unreal Editor
  • Character animation including Machine Learning
  • Nanite engine for rendering, lighting, and materials
  • Particle simulations and effects
  • Unreal motion graphics (UMG) UI
  • C++ source code access and API

Games Made Using Unreal Engine

If you’re trying to figure out which is better in the battle of Unreal Engine vs Unity, then maybe it will help you to know that some of the highest quality AAA game studios have used Unreal Engine to produce some of the most well-known games on the market:

  • Fortnite
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Tetris Effect
  • Gears 5

Unreal Engine Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

Free to use and open-source

Harder to learn due to C++

Excellent 3D-realistic graphics quality

Lack of 2D abilities vs Unity

Popular with AAA studios

Smaller asset store compared with Unity

Real-time multiplayer capabilities

Smaller user base

Faster rendering than Unity

Difficult to run on older hardware

Similarities Between Unity and Unreal

Despite their rivalry, both Unity and Unreal offer similar tools and features for game design and development, including:

  • The capability to produce AAA-quality graphics along with bridges for most industry-standard software
  • An extensive toolbox including terrain editors, animation, physics simulation, and VR Support, among others

Differences Between Unity and Unreal

Differences Between Unity and Unreal

Some of the main differences you should bear in mind when deciding between Unreal Engine or Unity include:

  1. Source Code: Unreal Engine provides full access to the source code, while Unity offers read-only access
  2. Release Date: Unreal Engine made its debut in 1998, while Unity was announced and released in 2005
  3. Languages: Unreal Engine uses C++ and Unity uses C#, which is often considered faster to learn and more suitable for beginner game development than C++
  4. Community: Both engines have a huge community of active users, but Unity currently makes up nearly 50% of the market share compared to 13% for Unreal
  5. Documentation: Both offer detailed documentation explaining their tools and features
  6. Asset Store: Asset stores allow users to download ‘mods’ like new textures or props for their games. Unreal offers around 16,000 assets, while Unity offers over 65,000 assets
  7. Graphics: Both tools produce excellent graphics, but Unreal Engine is to go-to for the highest quality graphics and environmental details
  8. Rendering: Unreal supports faster rendering than Unity, which can speed up post-processing and game development
  9. Pricing: Unreal Engine is completely free, but a royalty system exists for revenues above a certain threshold. Unity is also free but offers a paid version for professional studios (based on the number of licenses)

Conclusions: Unreal or Unity?

The answer to the debate of Unity vs Unreal is not straightforward since game development would be hard to imagine without both of these incredible engines. 

While both have pros and cons, the right choice ultimately depends on developer requirements and language preferences. 

With Unity, game developers can use an engine renowned for its huge user base and excellent support for 2D and 3D gaming; plus, it’s easier to learn for newer developers due to the use of C#.

Unreal Engine is ideal for building large and more complex games due to its high-fidelity and photorealistic 3D graphics. However, the need to know (or learn) C++ may mean that newer coders find it harder to use. So, Unreal Engine may be better suited to experienced developers.

If you’re still trying to decide whether to use Unreal or Unity, it may help to check out the best programming languages for games in 2022Those who prefer an overview of game design, beyond specific programming languages, should check out the Will Wright course on MasterClass. It covers design and theory from the point of view of an industry veteran.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Unity vs. Unreal: What’s the Better Game Engine In 2022?

It depends on developer requirements. Unreal is complex, but it can build high-quality environments. Unity is easier and well-suited to smaller-scale games.

2. Is Unreal Engine Better Than Unity?

Neither Engine is better than the other as they each have advantages and disadvantages.

3. Is Unity or Unreal Engine Better for Beginners?

Unity is usually better for beginners as it’s easier to learn and user-friendly.

4. Is Unreal Harder Than Unity?

Unreal is more difficult to learn than Unity because you need to use C++. So if you’re a beginner, you might prefer Unity.

Simran Kaur Arora

Simran Kaur Arora

Simran works at Hackr as a technical writer. The graduate in MS Computer Science from the well known CS hub, aka Silicon Valley, is also an editor of the website. She enjoys writing about any tech topic, including programming, algorithms, cloud, data science, and AI. Traveling, sketching, and gardening are the hobbies that interest her. View all posts by the Author

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A.D.
A.D.

Unreal has support for visual scripting (blueprints) which is compiled, fast, and has become the main method for most programming.

Kim
Kim

You have an error on the Head to Head comparison chart. Unity uses C# and Unreal uses C++., Unity also has VFX and Particle System. Under pricing, you should mention Unreal royalty fees.

Charles Lepine
Charles Lepine

Pretty sure Unity is written in and c#, and unreal is written exclusively in c++...

Jaime Medina
Jaime Medina

This is an absolutely useless article. And in what world is C# faster than C++. C# is a number of magnitudes SLOWER than the lower level C++. Given that C# has in intermediary language used for cross platform functionality, means that it is much much slower than any language directly compiled to a specific platform.

Sourov
Sourov

In the table, programming language is incorrect

Tryston Minsquero
Tryston Minsquero

I'm pretty sure you mixed up the development languages in the table. Unity uses C# while Unreal uses C++

Nordin
Nordin

Awesome, i think the writer gave a fantastic information about the two, but one big mistake he over looked was the fact that Unity uses C++ whiles unreal uses C# as a programming language. I think in my view that needs to be address accordingly. Thanks

Luca Christl
Luca Christl

There's an mistake in the comparison table. The used language in unity is not c++ but c#. Would you mind changing this so i can use the table for a presentation?