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Mobile RPG - Should Target Vulkan or ES2?

I’m just starting to develop a mobile game right now, and I’m not sure which API to develop for. I’m fairly certain it will take at least 2-3 years for the project to be fully completed.

Vulkan makes sure I won’t have to worry much about draw calls, I’ll be able to use modern features, and I can gear my lighting towards the deferred renderer. ES2, on the other hand, has a myriad of texture limitations to work around, optimizations are a lot harder to make, and there seems to be much more emphasis placed on texture quality over shaders.

  • No Ambient Occlusion
  • No World Position Offset
  • No Cloth support (shading or simulation)
  • No shading models besides Default Lit and Unlit
  • No GPU particles
  • No more than 700 draw calls
  • No more than 3 user textures per landscape component and 5 textures for general materials
  • No support for capsule, distance field, or contact shadows
  • No DBuffer support for Decals and baked lighting

Obviously I’d love to develop this game with plans to release for the Vulkan renderer, but I just don’t know how wide Android support will be 2 years from now. It will make figuring this out a lot easier if I know where UE4 stands on the future of mobile support.

That is an EXCELLENT question !
I’m exactly in the same position on the game I’m currently developing…
And after many hours passed testing on UE4 (shaders, performances, rendering options, different devices), I deciced to develop probably ONLY for Vulkan on Android devices, in Mobile HDR profile.
I know it looks like a bold move for a little studio like ours, but I keep telling me that in 2 years, when my game will be ready, it will be the standard on all smartphones and tablets, even entry level. So why loose time working on half solutions and OpenGL ES2 sacrifices, if we can afford better rendering, more gameplay options and better performances and power consumption.
Moreover, as Vulkan needs Android 7 or better (API level 24), it will “filtrate” smartphones thant don’t have the power and memory to run our game, so it will be a “high end only” game with less support needed (fewer devices and OS versions to support). I think in 2 years the Galaxy S7 performance level will be the medium range standard (4Gb of RAM, 8 cores, good GPU, Vulkan driver, 64 Gb of SSD minimum). The chinese new phones are already quite impressive (Kirin processors are really good, but Vulkan support still needs some efforts). And the high end devices of 2020 will get a 8Gb of fast RAM, 128GB SSD, really powerful GPU, optimized Vulkan drivers, giant screens and strong batteries with a comfortable thermal envelope ! UE4 will also have a better android Vulkan support, probably, as mobile gaming is becoming quite important, like the porting of PubG and Fortnite has shown us recently…
This is my opinion, let me know if you agree ?