Reflection Probes vs. Screen-Space Reflections In Unity

There are often many reflective surfaces in games, especially games with highly realistic graphics. Here’s a brief look into the different methods to create them.

No Reflection Probes:

By default, without using any reflection probes and just making a smooth reflective material, the skybox will be reflected. While this is often perfectly fine for most games, high detail games may need more.

No window/wall reflected. Only the city skybox.

Reflection Probes:

Reflection Probes are a feature in Unity which can create a sample of an area of the scene, then feed those images into the reflective material’s reflections. This creates quite nice looking and performant, though somewhat-inaccurate reflections.

Window/wall is reflected nicely, but not in exactly the right place.

Screen-Space Reflections:

A feature of Unity’s Post Processing, Screen-Space Reflections are a method to create visually-accurate reflections for surfaces. These reflections cost more in performance than the previous two methods, but are a great choice, and are arguably a necessity, for modern high graphical realism games.

Reflections are detailed and a lot closer to the correct position. (The reflections are more blurry because of my Post Processing settings)

In Summary:

Choose the method that best suits your project.

Generally, current mobile games don’t need Screen-Space (or possibly even Reflection Probe) reflections, while modern highly realistic games would probably need Screen-Space reflections to meet the standards of the rest of the game.

Unity game developer / C# Programmer / Gamer. Australian (Tasmanian) indie games developer since 8yo (18 years). Currently looking for games industry employment