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How to Learn Unreal Engine Start to Finish and Enter the Gaming Industry

Biba Rey - February 02, 2021


Unreal Engine is one of the best game creation tools on the market. The company Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4 in 2014, with Unreal Engine 5 set to come out in late 2021. Learning how to use Unreal Engine is highly beneficial for those interested in working in software development, design, and of course, the video game industry.

Game development is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. If building and designing games sounds like a career for you, then Unreal Engine could be your way in. With a game development Bootcamp or an Unreal Engine course, you can learn how to construct games for any format, including mobile devices, computers, and consoles.

Read on to discover how you can learn Unreal Engine and take your skills to the next level.

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What Is an Unreal Engine?

The Unreal Engine is a game engine, which is a type of software that developers create and constantly update for people who want to build video games. The primary function of a game engine is to offer game developers a space to build different types of games and render them for both 2D and 3D graphics.

Unreal Engine provides options such as sound, animation, artificial intelligence (AI), scripting, networking, streaming, management, localized support, scene graphics, and support for cinematics.

Developers often use the same game engine platforms to produce many different games. Unreal Engine is responsible for every installment of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, just to name a couple of series.

What Is Unreal Engine Used For?

The main use of Unreal Engine is to create video games. This real-world technology offers a complete suite of real-time development tools for developers. Let’s look at some of the many features that contribute to its high usability.

  • Unreal Editor. This is an integrated development environment available on multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS for content authoring. It allows writers, artists, and designers to simultaneously and safely make changes to the project.
  • Developer Tools. Developers have full access to the C++ programming language as the source code to build their games. They can customize, study, and debug the entire unreal Engine and complete projects without any hindrances. Their source code repository is continually updated. So you should learn everything about C++ that you possibly can.
  • Landscape And Terrain Tools. It has multiple tools for building landscapes and terrains on a massive scale, a form of mesh editing.
  • Animation. Want to try your hand at character animation? Animation behaviors and blueprint visual scripting are created via static meshes, which are tools that help with blending and control of the entire skeleton, frame by frame.
  • Material Editor. You can use this engine to control the look and feel of characters, including their clothes and the materials. You can layer materials and fine-tune them to achieve the desired outcome from start to finish. It can also be used to create and manipulate large textures via individual tiles.
  • Platform Support. With Unreal Engine, your game will be supported on various platforms, such as desktop, console, and mobile. You can also integrate your games with several applications, such as Windows, Linux PCs, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox One, and both iOS and Android mobile devices.

Unreal Engine Skills

Just like any other software you want to learn, you need a certain set of skills to become an expert game developer. Working on the Unreal Engine builds those skills, some of which are laid out below.

Real-Time 3D Skills

The demand for Unreal Engine skills has always been high, and 3D skills rate higher than most. Working with 3D graphics gets you a higher salary and more job opportunities. Unreal Engine can make you proficient in 3D animation, visual effects, and computer graphics.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is the basis for any game development or tech industry career. If you haven’t already thought about taking a graphic design course , you should probably start now.

C++

C++ is one of the best programming languages for game developers . This language is also used in various sectors such as construction, manufacturing, information technology, engineering, and architectural visualizations.

Learning Unreal Engine

As we have already established, Unreal Engine is a powerful and well-known game engine used by developers worldwide. If you’re keen on mastering it, there are a few ways to go about it. You can take an online course, attend face-to-face classes, or try a bootcamp , which is a great way to gain intensive training in job-ready skills.

Whatever your learning style is, choose the one best suited for you. You will need to put in a lot of time and effort before you’re confident enough to create games all on your own.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Unreal Engine?

Because of all the information available online and in books, you can start learning how to use Unreal Engine immediately.

How long it will take to start building video games or mobile games varies from learner to learner. It will all depend on how much time you put into the learning. The skill can be self-taught, but to speed up the process, we recommend classes and formal training.

How to Learn Unreal Engine: Step-by-Step

If you’re eager to start learning right now, the following guidelines will point you in the right direction. These steps are not set in stone, but will give some general ideas.

  1. Purchase and Install Software. To learn how to use a program, you first need to have it. Start by downloading and installing it on your computer, making sure your computer is strong enough to handle the engine. Download the appropriate version for Windows, Linux, or Mac iOS. You can do this on the Unreal Engine website itself.
  2. Familiarize Yourself with It. Navigating through a brand new platform can be a challenge in the beginning, but once you spend time with it, it will become second nature. Spend a few hours every day going through the features.
  3. Watch Unreal Engine Tutorials. Official tutorials for anyone interested in learning the Unreal Engine are available online, either on their website or on platforms such as YouTube. Watch them and start learning the basics.
  4. Take Classes and Read Books. Taking classes led by experts is a recommended way to learn something properly. There are several online courses available to everyone.
  5. Practice. As always, practice makes perfect. When learning how to use Unreal Engine, practicing is the best way to get its full worth.

The Best Unreal Engine Courses and Training

Characters from Gears of War created on Unreal Engine
Learning how to develop your video or computer game on the Unreal Engine is a unique skill that is in high demand all over the world .

The Unreal Engine’s team of developers, artists, and designers work together to create inspiring games and many of them contribute their skills to the betterment of society’s game developers. The Unreal Engine website has several resources such as white papers, presentations, and videos for you to take advantage of.

But the learning options are endless. You can take an in-person course, enroll in an online class, join a coding bootcamp , or even browse free course materials. Let’s take a look at these options in more detail.

In-Person Unreal Engine Classes

In-person classes are all about hands-on training. With one of the hand-picked options below, you can learn Unreal Engine with a like-minded group of people over a few hours or a few weeks.

Unreal Engine 4 Private Training

  • Provider: Software Academy
  • Time: Minimum 3-hour classes / full-day training
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Cost: $90 per hour

Software Academy is a private training facility that offers classes to beginners and professionals. It teaches everything from coding and animation to design and game development. Check out their hands-on sessions that deal specifically with Unreal Engine 4.

Unreal Tutoring Online

  • Provider: Wyzant
  • Time: Varies according to tutor
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Cost: Varies according to tutor

This online tutoring service caters to students and professionals who want to upskill themselves and learn from online real-time videos. Tutors offer online sessions based on an hourly rate, and each tutor has a profile that you can view to find the right fit.

Unreal Engine Courses & Classes Online

  • Provider: PluralSight
  • Time: Varies by course
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Cost: Varies by course

PluralSight has over 50 courses to tap into. The knowledge focuses on different aspects of Unreal technology for specific goals, implementing multiple methods. Learn all the fundamentals and upskill yourself in C++, blueprints, lighting, and more.

Online Unreal Engine Courses

The two hand-picked courses in this section are offered by the same well-known course provider but each approaches the development process in a slightly different way.

Unreal Engine C++ Developer Course – Learn C++ & Make Video Games (Udemy)

  • Provider: Udemy
  • Time: 31.5 Hrs on-demand videos / 13 articles / 10 downloadable sources
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Cost: $ 52.99
  • Extras: Certification of Completion

This game development course is offered by Ben Tristem and Sam Pattuzzi, two renowned developers in their own right. Their course has been taken by more than 100,000 students so far.

Requirements are a 64-bit PC that can run Unreal 4 or a Mac that supports Metal, and a minimum of 15 GB free disc space. You will get to learn C++ from scratch, in addition to understanding how to build your first video game in Unreal engine.

Unreal Engine 4: The Complete Beginner’s Course

  • Provider: Udemy
  • Time: 10 Hrs on-demand videos / 1 article
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Cost: $52.99
  • Extras: Certification of Completion

Provided by David Nixon, this training teaches you video game development and how to build your game from scratch using UE4. One of the important things about the course is that it helps you script logic to define gameplay without really needing to know how to code.

Nixon holds a degree in Computer Science from Florida Atlantic University and is a professional software developer. Over the years, he has developed multiple games for different clients and has gained recognition for providing the best user experience.

Best Free Unreal Engine Courses

Once you have found the perfect free class for the subject you want to learn, the world is a better place. Of the many free classes out there, two of the best are included below.

Unreal Online Learning Courses

  • Provider: Unreal Engine
  • Time: Full-time Access
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Cost: FREE

What better way to learn than from the creators of the engine itself? The Unreal Engine creators have their very own online courses for budding game developers. Included in this package are a host of free hands-on video resources and guided learning paths.

Unreal Essential Training (2019)

  • Provider: LinkedIn Learning
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Cost: FREE

This training was created to help budding game developers understand how to use the unreal engine. It covers the vital concepts of visual scripting, level design, effects, lighting, cinematics, and much more. Instructor Craig Barr helps you to create your first project, export and import assets for use in design, and build a base landscape.

In addition to the fundamental topics, get a thorough introduction to Blueprints, the visual scripting language, and start optimizing performance for great gameplay with Unreal.

Unreal Engine 4: Realtime Motion Graphics

  • Provider: LinkedIn Learning
  • Prerequisites: none
  • Cost: FREE

Provided by Scott Pagano, this is a quick start guide to real-time motion graphics for designers and developers. Learn how to design, prep, and import animated and static geometry and play around with different elements such as lighting, camera angles, and shading, while integrating it with other tools such as Adobe after-effects.

Unreal Engine Books

Lastly, there are books, the good old-fashioned way of learning. We have learned this way since we started school and it will continue to carry advantages for a very long time. For those who love this method, we’ve got you covered.

Learning C++ by Creating Games with UE4 , William Sherif

This book comes highly recommended by the Unreal community itself.  It will teach you how to create unique characters such as aliens and monsters, use C++ programming skills, and eventually create your very own games.

Unreal Engine Lighting and Rendering Essentials , Muhammad A. Moniem

Once you understand the different features of Unreal Engine, you can do anything. Learn all about the different lighting effects and realistic rendering. Bring your characters to life using Foliage Shading. This fast-paced guide will help you learn a lot of the essential skills needed to create the unique works that gamers enjoy.

Unreal Engine Certification

You can also learn how to use Unreal Engine and get certified in the process. The following option is a program that offers a professional certification upon completion.

RIT: Professional Certificate in Unreal Engine Foundations (edX)

Available for $537.30, this certificate program provides the core skills and resources needed for rapidly expanding career opportunities that require Unreal Engine competencies. Learners new to this technology will gain fluency in the subject matter and be able to put their skills into practice immediately.

You can build a solid foundation in the fundamentals of game development while gaining interactive 3D skills. As a result of all your hard work, you will be presented with a certificate that will help you advance in your career.

Should You Study Unreal Engine?

Why wouldn’t you want to master the skills and experience needed to build a career in gaming ? Anyone amazed by the level of detail involved in the cinematic experiences of popular games, and wants to help build them, should take Unreal Engine courses.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Biba Rey

About the author: As a writer for Career Karma, Biba covers topics such as tech careers, online learning, and higher education. After graduating with a BA in International Marketing and Communications from the University of Pretoria, Biba started her writing career. She has earned recognition in publications like My Moving Estimates, UK Air Dates, and Flexxable. Biba joined the Career Karma team in November 2020. Previously, she spent several years as a creative director, content writer, and website strategist at a digital marketing agency.

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