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Godot vs Unity: which engine to use and why

It is not a secret that game development today has become much more accessible, and literally anyone with enough money or time can create a game. There are tons of tools for such an endeavor: freeware, shareware, and paid. Learning them all and testing them in practice will take time. A lot of time. Thankfully, there is an alternative: you can invest in outsourcing game development as a shortcut.

Seasoned devs know how to work with the most popular programs and game engines like Unreal, CryEngine, GameMaker, Godot, and Unity that can be used to produce high-quality games. Today we will be focusing on the last two from the bunch and comparing Godot vs Unity. Hope this information will help you decide which engine is better for your next gaming project!

A few words about game engines

Most modern game engines have been years in development before embracing their final form. It took multiple iterations and hundreds of video games to polish each version. Some of them were significantly improved, and others have been rewritten from scratch, thus receiving another brand name (e.g., CryEngine >> Dunia). It is also important to keep in mind that most game engines use various pieces of additional software to have specific functionality (e.g., compatibility with multiple platforms, realistic physics, UI, rendering, audio, etc.).
Down below, you will find a list of big names in game development. They have contracts with various studios and subcontractors that make games. Some of them have proprietary game engines but also use licensed engines for different projects. Developing your own engine is not an easy task, so most studios prefer to pay license fees.
With the rising popularity of C# more game engines became compatible with .NET. Mono runtime environment that is part of .NET 5 is a great choice for game development needs as it allows to run C# code on multiple platforms. This includes Windows, macOS, Linux, and mobile operating systems (Android and iOS) as well as consoles (PS, Xbox, and Nintendo). Such flexibility of .NET explains why developers love to use game engines that have it. And as you have already guessed, the two engines we will be comparing today come with .NET. So without any further ado, let's jump to Godot vs Unity standoff.

Meet the contestants

Unity, being C++ written, is one of the first commercial game engines that used .NET to write C# scripts and embrace multiplatform. It is an integrated engine with an API and visual tools for editing graphics, sound, profiling, and debugging. In a very short time, Unity has become one of the most popular choices for game creation, VR projects, and simulations.

Today Unity has its own ecosystem with stores, plugins, and game development services such as Microsoft Azure PlayFab. Even though Unity is a commercial product, aspiring creators can work with it for free (to some extent). In other words, you can use the engine for personal and educational purposes without a license.

As for Godot, it is a free, open source, and fully integrated game development engine developed with C++. Just like Unity, it relies on .NET to create C# scripts, but its main advantage is its multi-platform nature. It slowly gains more popularity with each passing year, and its community grows accordingly. Its creators have even received grants from Microsoft and Epic games to improve and speed up feature development. Now let’s talk with examples and see what case studies each of these engines has to show.

5 notable Unity games

Many established game development studios and indie creators alike use Unity 3D for their projects. Such a flexible and versatile instrument satisfies all creative needs and makes it possible to build all sorts of digital experiences. Here we present a short list of our favorite games built on this wonderful engine.

Rust

Genre: Survival
Developers: Facepunch Studios
Release: 11.12. 2013
Platforms: Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Linux
Another wildly successful project from the creators of Garry’s Mod, Facepunch Studios. With Rust, they truly outdid themselves by building one of the most dynamic and enthralling multiplayer experiences to date. Unity-powered Rust sets the standard for the entire niche of multiplayer survival games, and while many tried to copy it, no one came close.


Don’t look down on a hackneyed post-apocalyptic setting because there is much more to it than you can grasp from just one glance. Rust offers players building, intense clan wars, exploration, raiding, and much more. All of those are accompanied by gorgeous graphics created with Unity.


Ori and the Blind Forest

Genre: Platformer, adventure, metroidvania
Developers: Moon Studios
Release: 11.03.2015
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
When big publishers realized that the public needs a break from blockbusters from time to time, games like Ori and the Blind Forest started to appear. They are beautiful, magical, and atmospheric, with an emphasis on art direction rather than on complex game mechanics. That is why lately, we are seeing more indie games created with love and passion for the craft. The latest release and Metacritic ranking of Stray prove this point.

As for Ori and the Blind Forest, it looks and sounds amazing, and even though the gameplay is rather simple, it does not have a negative impact on the game’s perception. Every aspect of the title is so polished that we can put Ori on a par with the best representatives of the genre.


Hearthstone

Genre: Digital collectible card game
Developers: Blizzard Entertainment
Release: 11.03.2014
Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Even gamedev titans like Blizzard love Unity. Their widely successful free-to-play card game Hearthstone has become a major on all key platforms. Grab your tablet or phone, or use a desktop to build a shiny deck of cards to beat other players on your way to the top of the ladder. Not feeling competitive and would rather relax in other game modes? Hearthstone offers adventures, duels, battlegrounds, tavern brawls, and other awesome modes to challenge your deck-building skills. Creating a deck is an art in Hearthstone, so choose wisely before embarking on adventures!


Fans of collectible card games will find themselves at home in Hearthstone with its cozy atmosphere, eye-pleasing graphics, and diverse gameplay. Looking back at this game, we can say that using Unity for it was a brilliant idea.


Cuphead

Genre: Run-and-Gun
Developers: Studio MDHR
Release: 29.09.2017
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

The title appeared out of nowhere and took the market by storm. It looks like an impossible task for a 2D sidescroller, but developers knew how to draw everyone’s attention — with a unique art style and hand-drawn animation just like in cartoons from the golden epoch. Playing Cuphead is like diving into an XX-century cartoon where you are no longer just a mere viewer but the main hero. However, thanks to stunning visuals, the game is as pleasant to watch as to play. Unity may not be the best engine for 2D games, but in the right hands, it does the job.

Firewatch

Genre: Adventure
Developers: Campo Santo
Release: 09.02.2016
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
An indie adventure game developed by people who contributed to well-known titles like BioShock 2 and The Walking Dead. The action takes place in the USA, in the state of Wyoming, where every day promises to bring fires. You play as Henry, who is a fire lookout, as the name of the game hints. Together with Henry, you will be surveying the land, looking for clues, and trying to understand the nature of the mysterious happenings in the area. Despite being on a very tight budget, the guys from Campo Santo did an amazing job with Unity and created a game that can compete with AAA titles. This applies to the plot, pleasing visual style, and the very approach to presenting the story.

5 impressive Godot games

Starting a developer career or just making your first project raises many questions and issues. One of them is choosing the right game engine, and it can be daunting. Godot is a good free alternative to other costly solutions. It is flexible and intuitive but mostly focuses on 2D. However, it is promising to become a force to be reckoned with in 3D in the future. So let’s talk about memorable games made with this engine.

Ex-Zodiac

Genre: Shoot’em up, arcade
Developers: MNKY
Release: 21.07.2022
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch
If you remember Starfox from Super Nintendo, and would like to have a similar flying experience, then you should definitely try Ex-Zodiac. The game captures that original vibe really well but looks better than any other game from the 90s, thanks to the Godot game engine. Ex-Zodiac offers you to fight your war through twelve levels with secret routes and formidable bosses. Originally started as a Kickstarter project, the game got 250% more funding than it needed. It was released last month on Steam and already has very positive reviews from the audience.

Malice and Greed

Genre: Turn-based RPG, roguelike
Developers: Xendra
Release: 22.03.2021
Platforms: Windows
Malice and Greed is a dark tactical RPG that also is kind of a monster collecting game. Its combat system has lots of depth with a bunch of different skills you can choose from. There are multiple damage types, including Physical, Fire, Ice, Arcane, Lightning, and Gun. This, combined with the rotating team and the typical randomized roguelike upgrades, offers a ton of gameplay variety. Malice and Greed is available in Early Access on Steam and has positive reviews from the players.

Bitgun

Genre: shooter, roguelike, indie
Developers: LogLog Games
Release: 29.04.2022
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Bitgun is a roguelike shooter that involves killing zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. And also some living things with guns from time to time. It also has some pieces of destructible environment like walls and all-time classic exploding barrels. The shooting takes place in different zones, from tight underground labs to open desert areas. Bitgun was released a few months ago, and all fans of indie games should give it a try because the game costs about $7.

Ruins of Mitriom

Genre: action, adventure, indie
Developers: Pixel-Archipel, Noiracide, Bibiki
Release: 11.01.2022
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
Ruins of Mitriom is a prime example of what the indie game development scene can achieve with Godot game engine. Essentially this title is all about exploration and adventures. You can play the game in co-op mode with up to four people. There are multiple characters you can choose, each with their unique abilities (that can be enhanced through a rather sophisticated upgrade system). The best part here is that Ruins of Mitriom is free-to-play, so you can download it from Steam right now.

Lumencraft

Genre: top-down, shooter, indie
Developers: 2Dynamic Games
Release: 13.04.2022
Platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS
In Lumencraft, it is just you and your trusted partner, a drill. As a player, you just want to have some quality time drilling rare minerals and anything else that has value. It would be so easy if there were no pesky alien creatures that keep attacking you. Luckily you have the resources and skills to build a well-fortified base to protect your way of life. Apart from the drill, you have access to a wide range of weapons, including dynamite and flamethrower. All game mechanics — drilling, shooting, and building — are equally satisfying, especially when everything happens in beautiful scenery made with a Godot engine. Lumentcrat has been released on Steam in Early Access and generally has positive reviews.

Godot Vs Unity: pros and cons

Let’s start with Godot. Amazing cross-platform engine with impressive capabilities for 2D, although limited in the case with 3D. Earlier versions of the engine (before 4.0) did not have so desperately needed Vulkan API support, but at the beginning of 2022, the devs released Godot 4.0 Alpha with Vulkan Renderer, OpenGL improvements, and other cool features. Now we just need a stable release. Godot has countless contributors and probably the most active community of all other open-source engines.

Pros:
  • Available for everyone for free;
  • Huge dev community, third after Unity and Unreal;
  • Open-source, all bugs are fixed with lightning speed;
  • Works on all platforms and can be deployed almost everywhere;
  • Superfast;
  • Has well-organized file structure;
  • Supports multiple programming languages: GDScript, C#, C++.

Cons:
  • Undeveloped to its full potential. Lacks some components that are available in other engines out of the box;
  • Stutters when forced to work with a multitude of objects at the same time;
  • Does not have many adequate manuals and tutorials for self-learning;
  • Under-represented on the market (no big hits in portfolio).

The engine can be difficult to learn for those who are only making their first steps in game development. Devs with some experience will find Godot’s visual scripting features and user-friendly interface awesome, and professional coders that work with 2D will just love it. Thanks to the latter, the engine is slowly gaining more popularity; thus, more complex titles start to appear. However, it is still riskier to use Godot vs Unity for commercial projects.

Unity
One of the most praised and used game engines you can choose today. It was released in 2005 but became widespread with the release of the Unity 3D version. Today it is used by professional game studios, indie developers, and mobile game makers. Many big companies adjust their workflows to be optimized for Unity (and the C# programming language). Needless to say, Unity has far more assets than the Godot engine: premade 3D models, textures, images, levels, etc.
With Unity, you can create a game for almost any platform, but still, some developers cannot say that this engine is ideal. Some dislike physics features, some criticize animation, and others — the engine’s interface.

Pros:
  • The biggest community of developers;
  • Multiplatform capabilities;
  • Has a free version (if turnover < $100k);
  • Comes with a huge collection of assets;
  • Lots of tutorials, manuals, guides, courses, and books to learn from;
  • Equally good for developing 2D and 3D games.
Cons:
  • Less user-friendly interface and structure (compared to other engines);
  • Games weigh a ton;
  • Some bugs migrate from one version to another;
  • Too complex for beginners and self-learners;
  • 3D graphics worse than Unreal engine;

So if we question professional or somewhat experienced coders/developers, then in the battle of Godot vs Unity, the latter will emerge victorious 8 times out of 10. Indie developers also prefer Unity to minimize their risks when creating an independent game on a tight budget. Plus, it is much easier to find seasoned devs that have been working with the engine for years. On the corporate level, Unity also beats Godot engine and competes mostly with Unreal.

Final words

This leads us to a conclusion that both these engines truly deserve their place in various top lists. However, one of them is a fully developed and established product, flexible enough to satisfy the majority of developers. The other one is also great but still needs more time to become a powerhouse in the game development industry.

At Argentics, we believe that Godot’s time will come, but for now, it is much safer (and wiser) to stick with Unity or Unreal. Each game project is unique and has its own peculiarities, so before choosing the engine for your game, better consult with us first because we know well both Unity 3D and Unreal, along with all their strengths and weaknesses. Together we can come up with an optimal solution, so feel free to hit us up!
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