Top 5 video game engines, ranked

The latest version of the Unreal Engine features stunning visuals (image via Epic Games)
The latest version of the Unreal Engine features stunning visuals (Image via Epic Games)

The last few decades have seen a rise in the development of video game engines, and for a good reason. These software tools have improved graphics in video games and made the gameplay experience much smoother. There are several options, and it can be tough to determine which ones are the best. This article ranks the top five video game engines of all time.

Note: This ranking is subjective and solely reflects the opinions of the writer


What are the best video game engines of all time?

5) CryEngine

Hunt: Showdown was built using CryEngine (Image via Crytek)
Hunt: Showdown was built using CryEngine (Image via Crytek)

Popular for titles like Evolve and Hunt: Showdown, CryEngine is known for creating beautiful open-world environments. It can render realistic digital images and produce incredible visuals in video games.

CryeEngine specializes in creating outdoor environments, especially vegetation, as is evident from titles like Far Cry. It is also one of the easiest video game engines to learn and is perfect for amateurs.

Having said that, CryEngine lacks developers and has a small scale of users compared to its competitors.


4) Havok

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was made using the Havok Engine (Image via Nintendo)
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was made using the Havok Engine (Image via Nintendo)

Havok is one of the most popular video game engines ever. It has been used for big titles such as The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Assassins Creed III, and Far Cry 6.

It is one of the few video game engines that can create fully immersive worlds that take you to a whole new dimension. It is especially known for its Physics engine, providing real-time collision with highly optimized collision detectors for better and more realistic virtual worlds.


3) Source

Apex Legends was originally made on the Source engine (Image via Electronic Arts)
Apex Legends was originally made on the Source engine (Image via Electronic Arts)

Responsible for games such as Counter-strike and Half-life, Source is Valve's trademark video game engine. It may not be too relevant anymore but it has set a really high benchmark due to the quality of its games.

Source does not have the best graphics but is responsible for creating some of the best movements in video games. Counter-strike, Titanfall, and Apex are games renowned for their amazing movement and are all built on the Source engine.

What differentiates Source from other engines is a high degree of mod-ability, flexibility, and a fully network-enabled physics system. Fan-made mods have led to the further success of many Source games such as Half-life.


2) Unity

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Unity has been available since 2005 and is the perfect video game engine for indie developers due to its easy accessibility. Famous for games such as Cuphead, Outer Wilds, and Pokemon GO, Unity has had a huge impact on the indie games industry.

The ability of Unity to make PC, mobile, console, and VR/AR games makes it even more special. It can be easily grasped by people with little to no experience in a programming language, as it has a simple and interactive interface.

The Unity engine has also been used by industries such as film, automobile, construction, and even the United States Armed Forces.


1) Unreal Engine

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Unreal Engine was first introduced in 1998 and has been used for all sorts of games, from MMOs such as Sea of Thieves, single-player adventure games such as Star Wars Jedi Survivor to Battle Royale games such as Fortnite.

Unreal Engine provides the best visuals and incredible gameplay, making it the best engine for making games. It is ideal for making large and complex games because of its high-fidelity and semi-realistic 3D graphics.

The release of Unreal Engine 5 has further propelled the popularity of Unreal Engine. It has led smaller development teams to reach new heights by implementing dynamic lighting, shadows, and huge open worlds for the players to explore.