What is the Game Engine Unreal & What Can It Do?

A mistake people often make in game development is putting all their eggs in one basket without even knowing just how much that basket can take. 

This is a common tendency among gaming businesses hoping to maximize their resources. And it applies to one of the most vital components of game development, which is the game engine. 

In some instances, instead of investing in a pricey yet established game engine, we might settle for an affordable one with unreal expectations and zero knowledge of what it can do. 

That’s completely understandable. We all want to cut costs in as many areas as possible; however, this will harm you in the long run. Think incompatibility issues and inconsistencies in cross-platform deployment, a fraction of the errors you might encounter by using the wrong game development tool.

So to help you avoid falling into that pit of errors, we put together this article to help you decide if Unreal, one of the most high-performing game engines, is the technology you need. 

But before we get into its capabilities and benefits, let’s first talk about Unreal real quick.

What is the Unreal Engine?

Most popularly used in game development, Unreal is an all-in-one platform for all types of visual and digital projects. It’s one of the most widely used C++ game engines to date, with reportedly 6.3 million active users as of 2018.

This technology is multi-platform, capable of developing 3D and 2D games, and free. So if you’re worried about pricing, Unreal is a great tool for allaying your fears. It’s also royalty-free — but only up until your “lifetime gross revenues” reach a million dollars from that game or product.

Its origins can be traced back to the first-person shooter (FPS) video game of the same name in 1988, created by the popular gaming brand Epic Games. Initially, the Unreal engine was developed for FPS, and it branched out to different genres only later.

While it was originally meant for game development, the recent versions of Unreal today have an amazing capacity for visually stunning and cinema-like graphics. It boasts an endless array of VFX capabilities and rendering tools, among other features.

Plus, it welcomes non-programming adept individuals who aren’t familiar with programming languages like C++. Unreal has a visual scripting system called Blueprint that enables a more intuitive approach to programming. However, many would still argue that knowing how to code with C++ will help the development process massively.

Image credits to Canva

What is the Unreal Engine Mainly Used for & What Can It Do?

Given the game engine’s history, you can clearly see what this ecosystem of development tools is primarily used for. The design and make of Unreal all support video game development

Its libraries, features, framework, and programs support the different facets of game creation. For example, the engine has a feature called the Unreal Editor, which contains tools for building a video game’s scenes and integrating various game assets.

But it also has many other features, mainly those targeted toward improving the graphics of any project. And at the core of the updates in Unreal Engine 4.27 is an enhancement of the graphics this game engine can make.

The Latest Updates on the Unreal Engine

It’s no secret the Unreal Engine takes pride in the level of artistry its technology can achieve. So, it also comes as no surprise the latest updates in Unreal 4 heavily focus on that — graphical fidelity. 

According to our developer, the updates in Unreal 4.27 primarily target its capacity for visual effects. This is advantageous to game studios looking to build breathtakingly realistic AAA games. But it also supports other forms of media creators can make. We’ll get to this in the next section. 

So what are the highlights in the latest Unreal engine updates? The following are what you need to know: 

GPU Lightmass: One of the biggest updates in Unreal 4.27 is the GPU Lightmass plugin. It’s a time-saving solution for light-baking, improving the way ray tracing is done. Through the GPU, Unreal can easily manipulate and render lighting at lightning speed, all while enhancing the way light falls on various objects in a scene.

Optimized in-camera VFX access: In this update, developers are afforded easier access to the in-camera visual effects toolset. This assists in simplifying the way game makers get hold of features to bring their vision to life.

Multi-GPU support: Improved multi-GPU support allows developers to shoot a scene using different cameras simultaneously. It also enhances the graphics of a video game or piece of media through a dedicated GPU for in-camera pixels

OpenXR support: Improving its capacity for XR, the Unreal engine extends its array of tools and compatible devices for augmented reality and virtual reality development. 

RAD Game Tools technologies: Through its acquisition of RAD Game Tools, Epic Games integrated the game development tools company’s technology (the Oodle Compression Suite and Bink Video) to give Unreal an extra edge.

News about Unreal 5

All the updates on Unreal 4.27, released in 2021, make a difference in the game development workflow. But many are already anticipating the upcoming release of the Unreal 5. So far, what we know is this version of Unreal will be released soon, in early 2022.

What is presently available is an early access of this version of the game engine, which isn’t compatible with Unreal 4.27; however, the full release will be.

Image credits to Canva

What Else Can the Unreal Engine Do Aside from Gaming?

As promised, we’ll be getting into the other types of visual media the Unreal engine can do besides video games. 

Although initially designed for video game development and a tool adored by game studios and game outsourcing companies alike, Unreal has reinforced its outstanding reputation for high-fidelity graphics in other fields. Different graphics-heavy industries have also discovered how instrumental this engine can be in meeting their needs. 

A few of these industries include:

Architecture: If you haven’t noticed yet, Unreal has a flair for the photorealistic. And in part that means lifelike scenes backdropped with lifelike environments. Aside from the visual effects this engine can accomplish, Unreal also allows architects and industrial designers to simultaneously develop structures made for XR technology.

Video-based entertainment: If there was any type of media that clearly, obviously, and unequivocally uses Unreal — besides video games — it’d be films, TV shows, music videos, and any form of entertainment that relies on the video format. It wouldn’t matter if the project required realistic animation for a movie or real-time graphics for broadcast television; Unreal experts can craft some of the most stunning graphics viewers will surely be floored by.

Any industry dependent on simulations: Of course, spectacular AR and VR capabilities always attract a host of other seemingly unlikely industries. Whether it’s for eLearning, aircraft simulation, or manufacturing, Unreal can recreate experiences miles apart from the actual implementation site.

Check out Unreal’s official website to learn more about what the engine can do.

In Summary

The Unreal Engine by Epic Games is an all-in-one platform for all types of visual and digital projects. It’s one of the most widely used C++ engines and used primarily for video game development. 

But what can the Unreal engine do aside from video games? Unsurprisingly, other industries dependent on graphics, such as the film industry and manufacturing, use this technology, too. The architecture, TV, and even eLearning industry derive benefits from using Unreal because of the engine’s capacity for high-fidelity graphics.

Want to reduce your game project’s costs without sacrificing quality? Outsource video game development to NarraSoft!

Meet your ideal outsourcing team today by contacting us at sales@narrasoft.com or sending a message using our contact form or chat box. Let’s bring your video game to the next level!