2D vs. 3D Animation in Games

The world of video games can surprise you with the beauty of the diverse visualization styles. One of the most important things that a game developer chooses is to create either 2D or 3D animation in it. The choice between the two determines the visual side of the game and, as a result, influences interaction, and storytelling.

2D Animation: Timeless and Easy to Make

2D animation refers to using flat, pre-drawn, or vector art in animating characters and environments. This classic style has been used in some famous and respected games like Super Mario Bros, Hollow Knight, and Cuphead.


Easier Controls and Mechanics: Normally, 2D games have less complex controls and mechanics, as their limited perspective allows them to be utilized efficiently. This makes them easier to pick up, play, and master, making these games great for casual players or for relaxation.

Precision Platforming: The 2D perspective, whether side-scrolling or top-down, makes precision platforming more natural in these games, as pixel-perfect jumping becomes easier to achieve.

Strategical Thinking: Low mobility can help in-game strategies and puzzle-solving mechanics in particular to gain prominence as players are challenged to think with limited options in mind.


Every Art Style: There exists a near-infinite number of possible art styles for 2D games, from the often interrupting yet charming, hand-drawn characters to simpler, often cleaner pixel art.

Timelessness: For many players, the retro styles associated with 2D animation and pixel art are nostalgic and appealing in their simplicity.

Scalability and Performance: Normally easier to animate than 3D models, 2D assets require less processing power to run and can be perfect for mobile games or systems with lower specifications.


Character Animation: 2D animation and comically exaggerated character designs allow for rapid and expressive animations that can relay emotions and meanings effectively without detailed facial animations.

3D Animation: Immersive Worlds and Dynamic Action

3D animation utilizes three-dimensional models to create characters and environments. It is a more realistic approach, as objects in a 3D world look as close to reality as possible. This style is most commonly seen in modern titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild , Uncharted , and Grand Theft Auto V .


Greater Freedom of Movement: Gameplay becomes more complex and varied because a 3D world isn’t limited to just two directions. Players can explore in all directions, making way for open-world exploration and action gameplay. Moreover, player controllers have become more precise, making some games more skill-dependent.

Realism: because simulation is closer to reality, players can experience gameplay in a more lifelike manner.

Emphasis on Player Skill: this is a derivative of realism as players have to become better at handling multiple keys at the same time.

Camera Control: 3D animation allows for dynamic changes in camera angles. It can shift, pan, or zoom in on action, also aiding in creating more immersive experiences that look decidedly more cinematic.

Control Issues: controlling a character in a 3D world can feel overwhelming by comparison, and the gap in complexity continues to broaden.

Perspective: a greater perspective on the environment might sometimes hinder an ability to control and immerse oneself in the gameplay. In many older titles, the shift to 3D actually hinders fluidity and simplicity of gameplay.


Art Direction: a 3D platform can be used to create highly realistic worlds or go the opposite way and end up with an extremely stylized simulation.

Level of Detail:

A game like Halo 3 offers incredibly detailed models thanks to 3D animation, whereas a 2D game uses very few sprites or basic polygons. This makes 3D better suited for hardware that can handle more detailed representations.

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Whether to use 3D animation vs 2D hinges on your game concept and the experience you want to provide players. But no matter your preference in animation, Tech Gaming Edu has a course to ensure you have the skills required to succeed as a game developer. If you are interested in taking this course, please find out more

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