Which Game Engine Should You Use for Your First Project?

Updated on October 22, 2020

As rewarding as creating a game is, it isn’t easy. You have to think of an interesting concept and flesh it out in pre-production and through an extensive game design document. And even if you already have a solid design in place, it’s only half the battle. You need to develop your game by making visual content and code so that it’s playable. 

Game development is a whole different beast; you need extensive programming knowledge and experience to ensure your game is seamless and bug-free.Apart from programming prowess, another important tool in your game development kit is the game engine you’ll use. 

A game engine is software that makes your games come to life. It usually comes with a variety of features, like tools for the following:

  • Graphics – Over 67 percent of gamers value graphics highly when it comes to the titles they purchase. It’s vital for every game engine to have great graphics tools for 2D and 3D animation, or at least have the capability to import and use them.
  • Input – Input is just as, if not more, important than graphics. It allows you tocustomize the way users will interact with your game. A good engine can support inputs from computer peripherals, console joysticks, and even mobile devices.
  • Audio – Every great game has proper music and sound effects. Engines should have tools that allow you to import and process high-quality audio files for your project.
  • Physics – This simulates the wary gravity, collisions, rotation, and speed work in your game. This is especially important for games that have 3D figures and characters that move and fly around, like a racing game with stylish cars and bobber motorcycles.
  • Artificial intelligence – AI is becoming more and more essential in video games. It’s often used for non-player characters so they respond and adapt like humans do when the player interacts with them. It breathes life into your game by making it think on its own.

Every developer needs to use all these tools to provide a complete experience for their players. Big companies, like CD Projekt Red, Nintendo andActivisionhave their own proprietary game engines created specifically for their games’ needs.

An independent designer or developer like you may not have the knowledge, experience, and manpower to create an engine of your own. Fortunately, there are a variety of game engines out there for you to use to craft your first project. Some of these options offer full features for free, so you can truly let your imagination run wild. Here are the best options.

Unreal Engine

This is one of the best and most popular engines to use, especially if you’re creating 3D games. It’s developed by Epic Games, and it’s spawned a variety of popular titles from established and independent developers. These include action games like the “Borderlands” and “Batman Arkham” series, roleplaying games like the Final Fantasy VII Remake, fighting games like “Street Fighter V,” and shooters like the ever-popular “Fortnite.”

Unreal Engine’s strength is graphics, as it has advanced visual tools that are not present in other engines. Whether you want a 3D style like the Batman games or a 2D one like “Dragon Ball Fighter Z,” you’re sure to create something beautiful with its graphics tools. 

However, Unreal Engine requires a licensed copy for you to make the most of it. Plus, it’s also quite complicated to use, so you’ll need an actual team or you can work with a game development outsourcing company to create a proper game.


Unity is another popular engine that also has a variety of great games made from it, like legendary independent titles like “Cuphead” and “Ori and the Blind Forest.” Games from established developers, like “Cities: Skylines” and “Hearthstone” were also made in Unity. Its biggest advantages are its ease of use and multiplatform capabilities. You can develop games on your own with it, and if you’re feeling diligent, port it to a variety of platforms. It’s also free to use. If you want to use its more advanced tools and features, like mobile game support, however, you have to pay for a license.

Beginner-Friendly Engines

If you don’t have enough knowledge and experience in game development, try a variety of beginner-friendly engines. Notable ones include Buildbox, which is great for creating 2D puzzle and platformer games. It requires no coding knowledge. If you want to create a story-rich, turn-based RPG, try RPG Maker. It features a variety of map and character customization features, as well as scripting tools that let you create endless scenarios and possibilities for your players.

If you’re getting into game development, don’t just rely on great programming knowledge and skills. You should also have the best tools. And the main one to have in your kit should be a good game engine.

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