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The most popular 3d game engines


The most popular 3d game engines

The most popular 3d game engines

Here is the full list of game engines in this article:

  • Unreal Engine 4
  • UDK (Unreal Engine 3)
  • CryEngine 3 SDK
  • Source Engine
  • Unity3D
  • Leadwerks
  • Torque3D
  • Blender
  • Neoaxis
  • C4 Engine
  • Shive 3D
  • Panda 3D
  • Esenthel Engine
  • iDTech 4
  • Ogre3D (Rendering Engine)
  • Irrlicht Engine (Rendering Engine)


Unreal Engine 4 is the new version of one of the most widely used game engines out there; the Unreal Engine. It features new interface, new material pipeline of physically-based shaders, Blueprint visual scripting, DirectX11 rendering, improved lighting and the list can go on. But you may want to check out all the features yourself.

Unreal Engine 4 is now offered as a free download. It did require a monthly subscription fee but that is no longer the case.

Features: Unreal Engine 4 features

Download: Download Unreal Engine 4


Unreal Engine 3 is the complete toolset to create your own games. It is a very widely used game engine in the industry. Unreal Engine is very versatile and has been used to create many triple A games such as: Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War Series, Borderlands Series. For a full list of Unreal Engine games go here: list of Unreal Engine games. Unreal Engine is one of my favorite engines to work with. UDK is a free educational version of the engine, with commercial license available if you want to take your project further and sell it.

Features: Unreal Engine features

Download: Download UDK


CryEngine 3 has been used in games such as Crysis 2, Crysis 3 and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. Just like Unreal Engine 3, CryEngine 3 is the complete toolset for game development. CryEngine 3 has been used as a benchmark for visual graphics for some time and it continues to push the limit what games are capable of. One of CryEngine’s features is its ability to produce huge beautiful, highly detailed landscapes.

CryEngine 3 SDK is now on Steam and requires a monthly subscription service. You can also choose a full license but for independent game developers and hobbyist, Steam subscription will be enough.

You can still find a free version of CryEngine 3 SDK somewhere online. I believe the last free version was 3.5.8 but it is no longer being updated by Crytek. For new updates and new version of the game engine you will need to sign up for subscription service.

Free version of CryEngine 3 SDK is still available with all the necessary tools to start creation your own worlds or your own game.

Features: Cryengine3 features

Download: CryEngine 3 SDK download


Source Engine has been used very extensively in the modding community with hundreds if not thousands of mods available. Source Engine is a bit outdated, yet still very powerful. It has been used to create games such as Half Life 2 series, Counter-Strike: Source, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Left4Dead, Left4Dead 2, Portal 1 and 2. Each game has a huge community behind it with new content always being released. I love using Source Engine because of its games. You can get your hands on the engine by downloading any of Valve’s released games on Steam. If you are interested in licensing Source for commercial project go here.

Eventually Source is going to get an update to Source 2 with unconfirmed and possible releases of Half-Life 3 and Left4Dead 3.

I myself can’t wait for the day that happens.

Features: Source Engine Features

Download: Use Steam to download SourceSDK and level editors for each of Valve’s games. See this tutorial.


Unity3D has been a very popular choice among developers. Full pledge game engine featuring everything you would need to create full 3d or 2d games with multi-platform support right out of the box. Easy engine to get into and begin using. Unity has a free indie version as well as commercial license version. Latest version of Unity offers DirectX 11 support.

Features: Unity3D features

Download: Download Unity3D


Leadwerks is an OpenGL, 3d game engine. It features deferred lighting system, Screen Space Ambient Occlusion which simulates real-time global illumination, advanced shaders, support for huge terrains and physics. Only engine on this list that does not offer a free version. Although it is set at a reasonable price.

Leadwerks game engine is now available on Steam and you can try out a demo before you purchase it.

Features: Leadwerks features

Download: Download Leadwerks


Originally Torque was developed for 2001 FPS shooter, Tribes 2. Torque is an open source game engine and has been an independent dev favorite for quiet some time. Some features include a world editor, Collada support, per pixel dynamic lighting, normal and parallax occlusion mapping, reflections, sky system, physX, multiple platform publishing and access to source code.

Features: Torque3D features

Download: Download Torque3D


Blender is a free and open-source 3D content creation suite. It includes tools for animation, compositing, 3D modeling, uv unwrapping, texturing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke, particle system, physics and rendering. It also has a built-in game engine. The game engine is written in C++ and includes support for Python scripting and OpenAL 3D sound. I like Blender because it is the only free alternative that I know of to Maya/3dsMax as a modeling/animation software.

Features: Blender features

Download: Download Blender


Neoaxis has all the features of a modern engine such as advanced material and shading support, real-time shadows, built-in Nvidia physX and current/next-gen rendering. It comes with complete pipeline SDK, including a map editor. When you download the free educational version of the engine it comes with example files for first person shooter with multiplayer support, real-time strategy and 3rd person shooter. There is a free non-commercial SDK available to download.

Neoaxis 3D engine has now complete free, you can read more about here.

Features: Neoaxis features

Download: Download Neoaxis


C4 Engine is full 3d game engine featuring dynamic lighting, stencil and cascaded shadows, advanced shader support, terrain and scene management such as portals, occlusion and level of detail. There is a standard and professional editions available. As well as free academic version to download.

Features: C4Engine features

Download: Demo download include all the tools that ship with the full version.


Shiva3D is a 3d game engine that is designed for web, console and mobile games and applications. Engine can run in OpenGL, DirecX and software modes. Some features include Nvidia physX, compound dynamic body, point light shadows, per-vertex per-pixel and lightmapping. Shiva3D has a free web edition of the engine, with ability to publish your games online.

Features: Shiva3D features

Download: Download Shiva3D


Panda3D is open source game engine and 3d rendering engine using Python and C++. Some features include physics, particle effects, GUI creation, AI, OpenGL/DirectX, render to texture and advanced shaders (normals, gloss, glow maps, HDR, cel shading).

Features: Panda3D features

Download: Download Panda3D


Esenthel Engine is a complete game development suit that offers ability to create fully featured triple A games. It provides the developer with rich toolset simplifying the game development process. The engine supports wide array of rendering, animation, physics, memory and network. Different licenses include a free non-commercial version as well as personal and company license.

Features: Esenthel features

Download: Download Esenthel


idTech4 is a game engine that powers games such as Doom 3, Quake 4, Prey and Brink. John Carmack released idTech 4 source code at the end of 2011 as open source. Some features include unified lighting and shadowing, shadow volumes and mega texture.

Features: iDTech4 features

Download: download iDTech 4


Ogre3D is an open source rendering engine. It is not a game engine, but a 3d rendering engine. It allows game developers to utilize hardware-accelerated 3D graphics into their own engine. It features object-oriented design, multi-platform with OpenGL and Direct3D support, landscape scene manager, animation engine and content exporters for most 3d modeling software.

Features: features

Download: Download Ogre3d


Cross-platform real-time 3d renderingengine using Direct3D and OpenGL. Irrlicht is not a game engine but a 3d rendering engine. Includes features such as dynamic shadows, particle system, character animation system, indoor/outdoor rendering, collision detection, lightmapping, direct import of common 3d mesh file formats and simple collision. It is platform independent. Irrlicht is open source.

Features: Irrlicht features

Download: Downloads Irrlicht

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