The Unreal engine, a behemoth that has been used to make many of the biggest games ever, has been around for decades, and it has a proud history of fuelling waves of graphically impressive titles. Now Epic Games has made the fourth iteration of Unreal free. The same engine used to make the likes of Gears Of War 4 or Injustice 2 is now in the hands of independent developers. It’s not as prevalent as Unity among indies, but it’s arguably far more robust. Like Unity, Unreal will require you to start coding to get anywhere; there are few pre-built game functions to help you start. There is, however, the Blueprints system, which offers a visual way to script and map out your game. It still doesn’t allow you to make something without coding, but it might help make it easier to keep track of everything in your project and see how it all works together. It’s certainly more helpful than digging through pages and pages of code to see what’s what.
There also are a number of what are essentially templates that can provide things such as the basic setup for a third-person game, giving you an already-animated model so you can drop a basic player avatar into your game to get you started. That’s only relevant for certain kinds of games, but if your project does align with it then Unreal will get you off to a good start, taking care of a few basics – though you’ll ultimately need to take it the rest of the way on your own.
It also has many lavish graphical features available. It’s relatively easy to make something that is immediately quite visually striking. Looks aren’t everything, but they’re nice to have, eh? There’s a great pipeline for implementing art, which makes things much simpler with great results.
The whole engine is also open source, so is constantly being improved by the community in conjunction with Epic Games. With time more functionality is being added but it’s also being made easier to use. There are plug-ins and assets now available which might help you get started making that platformer or action game you’ve got filed in your head.
This isn’t the easiest engine to learn but it will allow you to give your games the look of a large-budget production on a millionth of the budget. If you’ve an ambitious project and a lot of drive, then this could be the right engine for you.
Ninja Theory’s Hellblade uses the Unreal engine to deliver blockbuster graphics on a small budget. Unreal has long been a staple of triple-A titles, but now indie projects can take advantage of its capability. Made in unreal gears of war 4 the witness final fantasy 7 remake hellblade: senua’s sacrifice