Are there major benefits to developing a game in Unity vs Unreal, and if you are starting game development in 2022, which game engine should you choose? Answering this compound question is not simple or obvious. Some may argue that Unreal is superior solely because it is preferred by AAA studios. Others, on the other hand, will argue that Unity is more comprehensive and, hence, a better entry point into the industry for indie developers. Is one better than the other, though, objectively?
Let’s do a side-by-side comparison in the key areas of Flexibility, Development, Industry Presence, Community, and Documentation & Training, where it makes sense to assess software development environments.
Whether you are new or seasoned in game development, having a game engine that caters to different game types is important. Luckily, both Unreal and Unity cater to a wide range of games, including 2D, 3D, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Multiplayer.
3D – Both engines have excellent 3D capabilities, with Unreal coming out on top in terms of graphical fidelity.
2D – Both engines can do 2D, but Unity has a much larger focus and tool set.
Virtual Reality – Unity plugins are incredibly adaptable and integrate well with the whole XR infrastructure, which makes it a great choice for VR.
Augmented Reality – Both engines are capable of implementing augmented reality, however Unity has been doing so for a longer time and has more well-defined systems.
Multiplayer – Both engines support multiplayer, but Unreal is the only one that has it built in. Although several third-party frameworks exist, Unity’s integrated multiplayer is still in development.
Mobile – Unity is widely regarded as the best mobile engine.
What language you write in when starting out with a game engine can be a deciding factor. The C# programming language is used in Unity, whereas C++ is used in Unreal. Although Unreal Engine does not support C# out of the box, you can install the USharp plugin that adds C# capability to Unreal Engine. This is helpful because C++, being lower-level than C#, is more verbose and a harder language to work with for those with experience in higher-level languages. But Unreal also has Visual Scripting. Visual scripting lets you design the logic for your game without having to code, simply by adding nodes and connecting them.
Indie and mobile game developers prefer Unity. Some of the more popular games made with the Unity Game Engine include Skylines, Rust, Ori, Cities: Skylines, and Hearthstone.
Unreal is more popular in AAA-rated game companies than Unity, because of its high-quality graphics. It can produce more realistic textures, lights and shadows, and effects. This engine has been used in games like Fortnite, Bioshock, Sea of Thieves, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, and several others.
It’s also worth considering how the engine’s creators make use of it. Apart from tiny instructional projects, Unity does not make its own games. Epic Games (the creators of the Unreal Engine), on the other hand, has used the Unreal Engine to create a number of games, including Fortnite and Gears of War.
User community is another important criterion to consider before choosing a gaming engine. Both Unity and Unreal Engine have a sizable online presence, with their own forums, sub-Reddits, YouTube channels, Telegram groups, and more.
Unity Technologies also hosts an annual event called called Unite to showcase the latest development tools for Unit. The conference is for game developers, programmers, designers, and anyone involved with some aspect of game production. Epic Games, the provider of Unreal, is stronger in live tutorials.
In addition, both Unity and Unreal Engine have asset stores from which developers can purchase various assets for their project, or obtain them for free. Those can be pre-made 3D models, code plugins, audio files, and development environment extensions. As of now, there are around 10,000 assets in the Unreal Engine marketplace, whereas the Unity Asset Store has about five times that number. Unreal Engine assets tend to be more geared toward finished game production, as many have been seen in AAA titles.
Documentation & Training
The documentation for both Unity and Unreal is extensive. You can access them here:
The quality of the documentation being offered for both game engines is very high. However, the quantity is significantly higher for Unity developers. Taking Udemy as an example, there are about 2,200 Unreal Development courses and 5,500 courses for Unity. Although the majority of these courses focus on game development, the fundamental skills can be applied to a variety of other applications.
Which game engine should you choose?
In the end, this will be determined by your previous experience, preferences, and requirements.
If you are new to programming, or game development, Unity’s C# might be a better choice due to its larger community and larger Virtual Reality codebase. If you have a lot of experience with C++ programming, then nothing stops you from starting with Unreal Engine. Unreal Engine might also be preferable if your project is mainly focused on presentation and visuals, such as a desktop game with AAA assets or a visual presentation for business. Unreal Engine 4 has amazing visual effects out of the box. On the other hand, if your game requires a lot of customization, iterative development, prototyping, and optimization, then the Unity3D environment might be best.
The best advice we can give is to download, install, watch some tutorials and try both game engines before making an official decision.