In modern gaming, there is an incredible range of game engines that can provide an amazing range of capabilities. But what is the best game engine? To define which the best is, we need to break down the benefits of the major engines and why developers choose them. Choosing a game engine to develop in is one of the biggest decisions of the game development process, as it ultimately dictates the flow and feel of the entire game.

Unreal Engine

As one of the most renowned and popular game engines, Unreal Engine is designed specifically to cater to development teams of all sizes and delivers unparalleled real-time visuals that allow you to be creative right out of the gate. Featuring a suite of features, including Quixel mega scan access, that provides unbelievably realistic assets, Unreal Engine is a massive package that accessible and dependable. 

The beauty of Unreal Engine is its ability to provide diversely different experiences and visuals depending on a developer’s skillset. Its capabilities in terms of customization are high, but the level of knowledge required is also quite high to achieve great results. Luckily resources and lessons are abundantly provided regularly that offer you the ability to improve your skillset in the engine. 

Recently Unreal Engine 5 was released, and it provides a next-gen developing experience but introduces incredibly powerful tools, including Lumen (an advanced lighting system) and Nanite, which is an incredibly robust mesh system that provides not just stunning visuals, but efficient use of resources.

The hit game Fortnite was produced in Unreal Engine, and there are talks of it shifting to UE5 in the future.

Pros:

  • The engine is able to scale
  • Endless Features
  • Free to access
  • Incredible Customization 

Cons:

  • Requires good hardware
  • Complex to learn initially
  • Requires large storage for Megascan content

Unity

Delivering incredible functionality and versatility, Unity is a brilliant game engine that is perfect for developers starting. When discussing what the best game engine is, it is important to consider accessibility for all levels of developers and users, and Unity is one of the few game engines on this list that provide a brilliant foundation for users to work with. If we were producing a list of what is the best game engine for beginners, Unity would well and truly be at the top of the list. 

Unity is among the highest used game engines on the development market, and although a big part of that is its simple entry point and many educational resources, the other major factor is its compatibility. Unity works flawlessly with Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS, Android, Switch, Xbox, PS4, and many other platforms. Its ability to work across nearly every platform means developers of all sorts are able to make use of its user-friendly series of tools. It is a far easier entry point than the other game engines on our list. 

Unity has over 2.5 million registered developers and offers a community that is a great mix between hobbyists and professionals, allowing creatives to share ideas and functional knowledge. The accessibility and community provided by Unity make it a contender when discussing what the best video game engine is.

The hilariously goofy game Fall Guys was produced in its entirety in Unity. 

Pros:

  • Provides a Free Version for personal use
  • Great for all sizes of productions
  • Accessible to a great community
  • Multi-platform Compatibility

Cons:

  • Paid license for commercial use
  • Some important tools are behind pay walls
  • Doesn’t have an integrated asset library

Amazon Lumberyard

We can’t discuss what is the best game development engine without mentioning one of the more obscure yet unique entries in the world of game engines. Amazon Lumberyard is a unique entry in our list because it is a 3D game engine that offers VR preview mode, Scripting tools, and, interestingly enough, full Twitch integration. 

Unlike other entries in our list, Amazon Lumberyard features no royalties or seat fees, making it a great choice for independent developers. A huge benefit is it makes use of Amazon’s cloud service, which saves massively on storage space. Developing a game requires a massive amount of storage, so to have the design of an engine consider that suggests they are catering to indie developers as much as possible. In our list of what is the best game development engine, Amazon Lumberyard provides unique features.

The breathtaking visuals of Star Citizen are thanks in big part to Lumberyard

Pros:

  • Beginner Friendly Tools
  • Amazon Cloud
  • Visual scripting system, more accessible
  • Twitch integration 

Cons:

  • Paid access to AWS services
  • Less learning resources available

Godot

Another entry on our list that could be in a list what is the best game engine for beginners, Godot delivers an accessible open-source development engine that boasts no royalties, no subscriptions, or hidden fees. Capable of producing 2D & 3D titles, Godot is renowned for its accessible tools that don’t require taking a pile of courses to learn. 

Godot’s main advantage is its vast community that is renowned for their willingness to help each other. Godot’s active community makes it the top of this list for entry-level developers. If you can’t find the answer to something, someone on their Reddit, Facebook, or Steam community will gladly step in and assist you. Godot is free to use, easy to learn, and allows you to focus on the creative part of development over getting caught up in the ultra-technical side of development.

Pros:

  • The best community
  • Easy to use
  • Free to use

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide a robust set of tools
  • Visually isn’t as impressive as other engines
  • Doesn’t suit big development teams

CryENGINE

CryENGINE is renowned for its breathtaking visuals and physics but did you know it’s one of the only game engines that provide you access to the full engine source code as well as all of its developmental features without any license fees in sight? In gaming, CryENGINE is specifically known for its visuals and carries with it a fantastic reputation with the gaming community for delivering supreme aesthetics no matter what it is used to produce. 

Whilst CryENGINE provides learning resources like some of the other game engines on our list; it is worth noting these are quite advanced and are not particularly accessible for beginners. If you’ve got a good understanding and foundational knowledge of game development, CryENGINE could be the engine for you.

The game Crysis was the first major display of the CryENGINE and, to this day, is considered ahead of its time visually.

Pros:

  • Visually Stunning
  • No licensing Fees
  • In-game Asset Market

Cons:

  • Not as accessible as other engines
  • Difficult learning resources
  • Membership fees

Wrapping Up

So what is the best game development engine? If you’re a developer with some experience under your belt and you have a solid skill set, consider CryEngine and Unreal Engine; you’ll be able to make great use of your skillset and achieve stunning visuals at the same time. If you’re a new developer and are looking to learn the ropes, Godot is great for basic development learning. However, Unity is the best choice for you, as it has a robust toolset and an abundance of resources available to help you grow as a creative. 

There are no bad game engines in this list; it’s purely down to the scope of your project, your particular skill set, and what your priorities are for your particular game. Engines like Unreal Engine offer you the ability to achieve triple-A studio-level visuals, even with a moderately sized team. Unity allows you to develop for almost any platform, whether you want to make a desktop title or the next hit mobile game. The choice is yours, and luckily, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to game engines.

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