VR represents the next great frontier for game developers. Just like mobile technology allowed for developers to reach new markets and move video games into the mainstream, VR gaming will also be able to tap into new markets and appeal to new fans who are looking for a more active style of gaming. To accommodate this, game engine developers have been quickly working to add new features and refine existing ones to entice developers to choose their platform for their next big title:
Beginning in 2014, Epic Games began laying the groundwork for full VR support within Unreal. This led to the development of their first VR title, Robo Recall. In this game, players were able to shoot and smash their way through a city overrun by murderous machines. The game utilized a teleportation system for locomotion and some pretty solid controls for its gun-based gameplay. The game began development in 2016 and was released for Oculus Rift in 2017. It took full advantage of the most recent build of Unreal at the time to show off the latest rendering techniques and optimizations for VR.
Since then, Epic Games has continued to update and develop Unreal Engine 4 to provide game developers with the best tools available for their projects. Unreal Engine versions 4.17, 4.18, and 4.19 included many optimizations and performance updates geared specifically toward VR headsets and VR developers, with the goal of being able to improve performance and framerates, two of the most crucial elements to monitor in VR game development.
Beyond a commitment to bringing developers the best tools for their VR games, Epic Games provides developers with many other reasons to choose Unreal Engine for their games:
- Unreal Engine is free to begin using, with only a 5% royalty after the first $3,000 per game per quarter. These terms allow smaller teams of developers to dive right into projects without worrying about how to pay for their tools.
- Unreal provides support for most VR hardware, including the Samsung Gear VR, the Oculus Rift + Touch, the HTC Vive, and more.
- The Blueprint Visual Scripting language allows non-coders to develop game features and prototypes without the need for a programmer.
- Unreal Engine is capable of high-end materials and shaders, thus providing your players with incredibly immersive experiences.