Create 2D and 3D games in Unity
By using the Unity game engine, you can create 2D and 3D content separately, or use 2D and 3D elements in the same project, and mix these elements in 2.5D. The main difference lies in the type of objects you want to use in your scene or what type of camera you’re using.
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You have the option to choose between 2D or 3D from the moment you open a new project in Unity, but you can swap between the two at any time regardless of the mode you set (see more at 2D and 3D Mode Settings in Unity).
The choice between starting in 2D or 3D mode determines some settings for Unity, such as whether images are imported as textures or sprites, and if the camera projects is orthographic or perspective. If you don’t know for sure whether you want to create for 2D or 3D, here are a few differences that could help you decide:
A few key differences between 2D and 3D games
2D games use flat graphics, called sprites, and don’t have 3-dimensional geometry. They’re drawn to the screen as flat images, and the camera (orthographic camera) has no perspective.
Here are some examples of typical 2D games:
3D games usually make use of 3-dimensional geometry, with Materials and Textures rendered on the surface of GameObjects to make them appear as solid environments, characters and objects that make up the game world.
3D games usually render the Scene using perspective, so objects appear larger on screen as they get closer to the camera.
You can also check out a variety of curated 3D assets, from animations to environments and props, in the Unity Asset Store, and choose what you think is suitable for your game.
2.5D - Yes, there’s also 2.5D!
Some 2D games use 3D geometry for the environment and characters, but restrict the gameplay to 2 dimensions, e.g., the camera may show a side-scrolling view, but the player only moves in 2 dimensions. For these kind of games, the 3D effect has a more visual rather than functional purpose.
There are games that use 3D geometry, but use an orthographic camera instead of a perspective one. It’s a common technique that gives the player the bird’s-eye view of the game action, and is often referred to as 2.5D.
If you haven’t fully figured it out whether you want to create in 2D or 3D mode, remember you always have the flexibility to switch between the two when using Unity. You can always check out what other Unity creators say about developing 2D or 3D projects in the community section of our website, on the blog and forums.