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Unreal Engine 4 vs. Unity: Which Game Engine Is Best for You?

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Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) and Unity are arguably two of the most popular game engines available to the public today. While many game development studios use their own proprietary game engine there's still a huge market for indie developers and even larger studios needing a great game engine to help them create their game. Games like Dead Island 2 and Hitman Sniper are being developed on these game engines. So if you want to get into game design you're next step is choosing which game engine to learn, and which game engine to launch your game. While both Unreal Engine 4 and Unity are excellent game engines, depending on what you want to do, one may be a better option for you, over the other. Whether it's simply the interface you prefer, or maybe the programming language. Whatever the case may be, let's break down each game engine and look at their strong areas so you can decide which one will work best for you.

What Type of Games Are You Going to Create?

The first question you need to ask yourself is what are you going to use the game engine for, and what kind of games do you want to create? Of course, if you want to make a game that is, because game engines can be used for not just game development. Do you want to create a 2D platformer or a 3D action adventure game? Maybe a game with a hybrid of 2D and 3D. You may just want to start small for your first game and create a simple puzzle stacker with some basic physics involved. Do you want to launch the game on a web browser or mobile platforms? Or are you aspiring to get it onto console platforms? How do you plan on making money off the game? Through in-app purchases, in-game ads or just the purchase price alone? Answering these questions can help determine whether you should use Unreal Engine 4 or Unity. Both engines can certainly get the job done, but depending on what you're creating, one engine might rain supreme in your work. When it comes to mobile games that is where Unity really shows its dominants, with many popular mobile games created with it, it's really become a mobile developers go-to game engine. If you want to make a 2D game, Unity can also be a great option, because it has some great 2D features and can be very easy to start creating games. Unreal Engine 4 has recently tried to push their engine among mobile developers with powerful 2D features as well. Maybe you want to create a 3D game, well; Unity is also a very powerful 3D game engine as well. While it's graphically not on the same level as Unreal Engine 4, if you don't need to create next-gen level graphics then having something like Unreal Engine 4 may not be required. You also have the option of doing pre-visualization or even architectural visualization. This is something more studios are expanding into, and finding ways to use a game engine to create an interactive experience for their clients. Many artists are using both Unity and Unreal Engine 4 as a way for creating these interactive experiences.

Prices

Unity pricing page screenshot While choosing a game engine can rely heavily on what type of game you want to create, and what platform you want to launch on there is also another very important factor, that, depending on your funding may be the deciding factor of whether to choose Unreal Engine 4 or Unity. If you're an aspiring game developer just wanting to learn how to make games, and get your feet wet then you probably don't have large sums of money to drop. The pricing of a game engine can be a huge selling point for any developer. If you eventually want to launch your game there's also royalties that need to be taken into account. Unity offers a completely free version ready for download. If you're just wanting to get started this can be a great option for you. While it certainly doesn't have all the features that Unity Pro has it's still capable of making excellent games without you having to ever spend a dime. You can't really get much better than free. If you want to upgrade to Unity Pro, this can be a bit pricey. You can buy the program outright for $1,500, or pay $75/month, while those payments may seem steep, especially for someone just wanting to start out. If you ever want to publish your game you don't have to pay any royalties to Unity. If you're a larger developer this can be a big enticement for you. However, you do have to pay another $1,500 per mobile platform that you publish on. With Unreal Engine 4 there aren't Pro or Free versions. In the recent announcement Unreal Engine 4 went completely free. Everything is under one roof, and you will still get access to everything the game engine has to offer, without any cost to you. Now, Unreal Engine 4 has royalty fees of 5%. So any money you make off your game, Epic Games gets 5% of everything you earn, including in-app purchases, in-game ads and the price of the game. Unreal Engine 4 is also completely free for colleges and universities. If you're a teacher then Unreal Engine 4 may be the most logical choice. Not only do you get Unreal Engine 4 free in your classroom, they also allow you to give UE4 to your students for their own personal use at their home during their time in school. If you're a student, you may already have free access to Unreal Engine 4, so ask your teacher! If you make a game you want to publish while in school, you still can, of course the 5% royalty is still attached. Both game engines are extremely affordable, Unity gives you access to the free version of Unity, which is still a powerful engine. However, if you're a teacher Unreal Engine 4 may just come out on top in terms of pricing.

Programming Languages

While the pricing of the game engine can certainly sway your decision, the guts of the game engine is obviously a huge factor in making a choice, and deciding which one is better for you. It's no secret that to create a game you'll need to do quite a bit of programming. Depending on which programming language you're comfortable with can help you decide whether to go with UE4 or Unity. Unreal Engine 4 uses C++ and Unity uses mostly C# or JavaScript. Deciding which program is better in terms of the programming languages really comes down to personal preference. Some people think C++ is archaic, while others swear by it. If you prefer any of these languages over the other then the decision may be pretty easy for you.

Blueprint

Blueprint         Unreal Engine 4 has Blueprint visual scripting. A node-based scripting method right inside UE4. Technically you don't ever need to write a single line of code. This is great for quickly prototyping levels, and you can even create entire games using Blueprint. If you're not a programming wizard, but just want to make a game, this can make Unreal Engine 4 a great option for you. Of course, there are limitations to what Blueprint is capable of, but if you're new to game design it can be a great way to get your feet wet. If you want to use Unreal Engine 4 for things like visualizations and architectural walk-throughs Blueprint would be excellent for that because you won't have to worry about writing code and it can be done very quickly.

Great Asset Store

unity asset library image Both Unreal Engine 4 and Unity have an asset store. Letting you download different game assets like characters, props and even things like sounds and particle effects. However, Unity really comes out on top in terms of the size of their asset store. Offering everything from intuitive animation and rigging tools to GUI generators and motion capture software. There's everything you need to create your game.

No Profiler in Unity Free

Unity profiler image   One thing to keep in mind with the free version of Unity is that there is no Profiler. This is only included in Unity Pro. This alone can be a huge deterrent to some developers and can be a big deciding factor. The profiler basically allows you to optimize your game, you can play your game with the profiler on and it will  record the performance of your game and show you the percentage of time spent doing tasks like rendering, and animation while playing your game. Not having this available in the free version makes it extremely difficult to figure out what areas in your game are causing slow downs, and what needs to be fixed in order to have optimum performance.

Graphical Capabilities

UE 4 graphics image When it comes to graphics, Unreal Engine 4 is really a next-gen game engine. Capable of creating graphics on par with games you see being released on next-gen game consoles. From complex particle simulations systems to advanced dynamic lighting. Of course, with the upcoming Unity 5, there has also been a big graphical increase. Although, the release date has yet to be set in stone. Graphics of course are not everything, and quite simply you probably don't need to create a game that competes with today's triple A titles. That being said, Unreal Engine 4 has the capabilities to really create any type of visual style that you want 2D or 3D. It's always good to be able to have the option to push the graphics further if you choose to do so.

Ease of Use

In terms of which program is easier to use, it really comes down to personal preference. Unity is generally seen as the more intuitive and easier to grasp game engine, however, Unreal Engine 4's complete UI overhaul has brought with it a very easy to understand UI that shouldn't take long to get up and running. If you're basing your decision on which game engine is easier to understand the best option is to test them both. Put them through the ringer and try to figure out what works best for you. Everyone is different, and while you may have been recommended to use Unreal Engine 4, for you, Unity might be the right choice and vice versa. Both of these game engines are powerful pieces of software capable of helping push your ideas to the next level. If you're still unsure which one will work for you watch some of our in-depth courses in both Unity and Unreal Engine 4 to help you decide which one you'll choose. Also check out the Which Game Engine Should I Choose? article to learn more about UDK and CryENGINE