As the development of three-dimensional content with real-time technology finds more and more applications, more and more people are turning to game engines to bring their creative visions to life. Two of the most popular game engines on the market are Unreal and Unity. Both offer a range of attractive features for developers, from stunning graphics to high performance and ease of use. But which engine is better? In this article, we take a closer look at Unreal and Unity to help you decide which engine is best for your project. We'll compare the graphics capabilities, performance and usability of the two engines to give you a comprehensive overview of what each has to offer. So let's dive in and explore the differences between these two powerful game engines.
Unreal and Unity are both powerful game engines used by developers around the world to create games for different platforms. Unreal was developed by Epic Games and has been one of the most popular game engines on the market for many years. It offers incredible graphics quality and a large number of tools and features that let developers create games quickly and easily.
Unity was developed by Unity Technologies and is one of the most widely used game engines in the world. It is known for its ease of use and ability to create games for multiple platforms, including PC, consoles and mobile devices. Unity is also very popular among indie developers, since it is a low-cost option to develop games.
One of the most important features of a game engine is the graphics quality it offers. Both Unreal and Unity offer impressive graphics quality, but there are some differences between the two.
Unreal offers significantly realistic graphics quality, allowing developers to create photorealistic 3D worlds and characters. It also offers a variety of tools and features to enhance graphics quality, including particle and lighting effects, as well as advanced physics and collision detection.
Unity also offers decent graphics quality, which is reflected in many successful games. However, it is not as realistic as Unreal and does not offer as many tools and features to improve graphics quality. Still, it's a great option for game developers who want solid graphics quality without the cost and complexity of Unreal. Photorealism with Unity is possible using the HD render pipeline but is much more complex compared to Unreal.
Unreal Engine sets itself apart from Unity with its superior tools and connections to professional animation software for the creation of virtual characters. Of particular note is Unreal's MetaHuman Designer, a revolutionary tool that allows developers to create photorealistic human characters with unprecedented speed and detail. In addition, Unreal offers strong compatibility and direct connectivity to animation tools such as iClone, a popular 3D animation software solution. This synergy between Unreal and iClone creates a streamlined workflow that allows animators and developers to animate complex motion and emotion with an ease and precision not readily found in Unity. These integrated capabilities make Unreal the first choice for projects where character development and animation are paramount and where realism and high quality are required.
Besides graphics quality, the performance of a game engine is another important feature to consider when choosing an engine. Both Unreal and Unity offer high performance, but there are some differences between the two.
Unreal is known for its high performance in AAA games and is one of the fastest game engines on the market. Unreal's power especially unfolds on high-end systems. Unreal is also very scalable and can be optimized for a wide range of platforms.
Unity also offers high performance and is known for its efficiency and speed. It is also very scalable and can run on different platforms, including mobile devices. Unity is also known for its rapid prototyping capability, which allows developers to quickly and easily prototype games.
Overall, Unity is inferior to Unreal in terms of performance on All in One VR headsets, as we found out in a project that was partly programmed in Unity and partly in Unreal. Unreal is able to display significantly more polygons on a mobile platform with limited performance than Unity can.
The usability of a game engine is another important feature to consider when choosing an engine. Unreal and Unity both offer high usability, but there are some differences between the two.
Unreal is known for its diverse and powerful user interface, which allows developers to create games quickly and easily. It also offers a large number of tools and features to facilitate game development, including extensive documentation and tutorials.
Unreal has quite sophisticated tools for creating cinematographic animations, which still appear somewhat rudimentary in Unity.
Unity is also very user-friendly and offers an intuitive interface that can be easily customized. It also offers a variety of tools and features to facilitate game development, including extensive documentation and tutorials. Unity is also known for its rapid prototyping capability, which allows developers to quickly and easily prototype games.
Developer community support is another important factor to consider when choosing a game engine. Both Unreal and Unity have a large and dedicated developer community that helps developers create games.
Unreal has a very active and dedicated developer community that helps developers solve problems and develop games. There are also a variety of resources available to developers, including extensive documentation and tutorials.
Unreal seems to have gained a lot of appeal in the developer community in recent years due to constant innovations.
Unity also has a large and dedicated developer community to help developers create games. There are also a variety of resources available to developers, including extensive documentation and tutorials. Unity also has an active asset store community that gives developers access to a variety of assets and tools.
Cost is another important factor to consider when choosing a game engine. Both Unreal and Unity offer different pricing models, from free versions to paid versions with advanced features.
Unreal offers a free version that contains all the functions of the engine. The Unreal Enterprise Program costs 1500€ and offers additional support.
Unity also offers a free version for companies that generate up to €100k per year, which includes almost all of the engine's functions. Above 100k the Professional Plan is offered which costs 1,877 € per year.
When choosing between Unreal and Unity, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Some of these factors include:
- Type of game or application being developed. Unity is not the first choice when it comes to photorealism.
- platforms on which the game will be released. Unity is still quite platform agnostic.
- Budget for the development of the game. Unreal can be more expensive to develop because there are simply fewer developers for it on the market.
- The developer's experience with the engine. It makes little sense to let experienced Unity developers loose on an Unreal project or vice versa.
The perception that Unity has not introduced any groundbreaking innovations in recent years compared to Unreal Engine is common in the industry, especially after Unity's acquisition of post-production house Weta. There were expectations that this acquisition would lead to significant advancements in the areas of graphics and visual effects, but these may not have fully materialized yet.
In the field of virtual production, Unreal Engine seems to be clearly taking the lead. Unreal is known for its powerful real-time rendering capabilities thanks to Nanit technology, which are particularly important for virtual production. This technology is used in film productions, for example, to create realistic backgrounds and environments in real time.
Unity has established itself as a leading force in the development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) projects, particularly through its strong support for the latest headset models. Developers using Unity often benefit from early access to the latest features of Meta headsets, as updates and new features are usually released for the Unity platform first. In contrast, Unreal Engine tends to offer this support with some delay. This dynamic suggests that Unity may have a more strategic focus on extended reality (XR) technologies than Unreal, making Unity an attractive choice for developers who want to be at the forefront of AR and VR innovation.
Unreal and Unity have both been used to develop a number of successful games. It should be noted that there are not so many AAA titles programmed with Unity. Some of the most popular games developed with Unreal are:
- Gears of War
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- BioShock Infinite
- Days Gone
Some of the most popular games developed with Unity are:
- Ori and the Blind Forest
- Monument Valley
Unreal and Unity are both powerful game engines that offer a wide range of features for game developers. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two depends on the needs of the developer. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of Unreal and Unity are:
- Advantages: photorealistic graphics quality, high performance, versatile and powerful user interface, Lighting works out of the box
- Disadvantages: higher development costs for developers
- Advantages: Ease of use, scalable, fast prototyping, usually low cost
- Disadvantages: less realistic graphics quality, limited functions to improve graphics quality, hardly any innovations in recent years
If you want realistic graphics quality and a diverse user interface, Unreal may be the best option. Also, rendering lifelike 3D avatars is much easier in Unreal.However, if you want a user-friendly engine with lower cost and fast prototyping capability, Unity may be the better option. In any case, both Unreal and Unity are professional options for game development. At Design4real, we work with both engines and decide which one to develop with on a project-specific basis.
Are you interested in developing a virtual reality or 360° application? You may still have questions about budget and implementation. Feel free to contact me.
I am looking forward to you
Clarence Dadson CEO Design4real