A BASIC OVERVIEW OF UE4
Rob Brooks’ Unreal Engine 4 Fundamentals offers beginners a low-pressure introduction into the Unreal 4 game engine. Brooks is a freelance programmer from the UK with a technical degree in game design. The course is available through the subscription-based learning platform Pluralsight, which offers courses in several tech related fields- including game development with Unity and Unreal engines. If you want to try it out before committing to a subscription, there is a free 10-day trial (or 200 minutes, which was about the length of this course).
- Project Setup
- Camera and Post Processing
ABOUT THE COURSE
This course is for absolute beginners who have never opened Unreal Engine. It starts with how to install the engine and set up a project file, and goes from there. All the assets used in the videos are provided in a well-organized UE4 project file, broken down into sections that correlate with different modules in the course. The pace is fairly slow, so I feel it would be perfect for those who find themselves frustrated and lost at the fast pace of other learning materials. This is a more casual introduction and not a serious start-to-finish tutorial on how to make a game.
Since I have some experience with Unreal Engine, the beginning of this course was quite slow. Luckily, you have the ability to skip around the lessons since it is all divided up into well-organized modules based on subject. So, if you know the basics already you can just skip to the parts you don’t know. For the purposes of a proper review I made myself watch through everything, which is a good thing because I found the course missing a few key elements.
As an artist myself, I mainly have experience with the asset implementation and lighting side of Unreal Engine, so the main things I felt were missing were in those areas. The first thing I felt was a glaring omission is the course fails to instruct on how to import 3D assets into the engine. Since the course provides project files, the instructor just goes straight to using those and doesn’t say how one might use their own files when they start an empty project. I feel this is a pretty important step to go over in a “fundamentals” course, since presumably people should be able to take what they learn in this course and use it in their own work. I have memories of struggling on my own to figure out UE4’s unique orientation (which is different than the 3D modeling software I use) and how to get my imported objects to face the right way, so taking a couple of minutes to explain best practices for importing 3D meshes would have been a vital addition to a beginner course.
Another thing I felt the course was lacking was a quick explanation of light mobility settings during the “lighting” module. While the instructor does go over some basic settings and light types, I feel like a few more minutes on best practices for mobility settings would have rounded out the module. Since most of the people interested in this course are aiming to make their own game, knowing the basics of in-engine lighting is pretty important and the instructor fails to discuss the main thing that makes real time lighting different than lighting for a still render.
Other than these two areas, the rest of the course seemed like a decent overview of the various aspects of UE4. It was great to dip my toes into areas of the program I haven’t needed to use before- mainly physics, blueprints, and C++. I think that is where this course is strongest- as a general look at UE4 as a whole, instead of focusing in on one subject. The strong organization and ease of understanding makes this course a good starting point for someone unfamiliar with game engines in general, and it gives a good look at what all can be done in the program.
At the end of the course, you have an overview of most of the basic functionality of UE4. This is enough to give you a foundation to move on to some more in-depth tutorials, but not enough for you to go off and make your own game.
“THIS COURSE IS A GOOD STARTING POINT FOR SOMEONE UNFAMILIAR WITH GAME ENGINES IN GENERAL.”
Overall, this course is best for someone who hasn’t touched a game engine, and is interested in exploring some of the different aspects of UE4. However, it’s not quite balanced enough for someone who seriously wants to start their own game file with their own assets, and it could be frustrating for the more experienced (for example, if you know Unity and want to try out Unreal).
In my opinion, I would prefer to just read Epic’s documentation on how to get started with UE4 since I am an impatient person and I hate going slow. I am the type to skip to exactly what I need so I can go off and do my own thing as soon as possible. UE4’s official documentation is also more comprehensive, and doesn’t skip any vital information- but I know it can be blunt and confusing to someone unfamiliar with game engines. I know not everyone likes to go fast and it can be helpful to follow along with a video when first learning a particular software (especially when trying to find which menu is being used) so there are people out there who would love this course. The low pressure of having all the assets and files already provided and set up makes this a relaxing exploration of a game engine that might be more approachable to absolute beginners.
This is a great course if you fit the target audience: absolute beginner who likes a slow, casual pace. If you don’t fall into that category, then this is not for you.
- Mostly comprehensive coverage of the main capabilities of UE4
- Great organization
- Beginner friendly
- Instructor is very easy to understand
- Project files are provided
- Pretty up-to-date
- Highlighting areas of the screen to show what menus are being used
- Some might feel frustrated at slow pace
- Missing a few key elements for a comprehensive introduction
Get the Course – Course Link