Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down

Over the generations, our games industry has seen many graphics engines to present our adventures in the best possible way. Sometimes, they disagree with our consoles and PCs and problems go down. Although, every now and then a game engine surfaces that passes our high expectations with flying colours. In no particular order, here are our top five picks.

Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down

RED Engine

Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down  - The Witcher 3

The Red Engine was built in-house at CD Projekt Red especially for The Witcher 2’s port to the Xbox 360. Since then, the Red Engine has done us proud. In both The Witcher 2 and 3, we experienced fantastically rendered worlds that quickly earned praise in the tech community. It would ultimately lead to two fantastic games that would never once display shadow flickering or texture popping. The especially robust engine, expanded upon over two generations of gaming is now at the stage of Red Engine 4, which is being used to design Cyberpunk 2077's realistic and immersive world. 

Fox Engine 

Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down  - MGSV

The Fox Engine began life at Kojima Productions in 2007 and would go on to build Metal Gear Solid 4. Kojima famously intended for the engine to “be the best graphics engine in the world”. While that statement may be debatable, there’s no denying how impressive the Fox Engine was when we first saw it in Metal Gear Solid 4. Textures were sharp, character models looked great and animation for Snake’s movesets were silky smooth. In some ways it felt like a game ahead of its time, visually. This would build the foundation for the striking photorealism found in Metal Gear Solid V. Kojima’s plan was to build the engine in order to speed up development time on future games. 

Decima Engine

Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down  - Horizon

In the end, Kojima would only ever make use of his Fox Engine for one more game, MGS: V. After leaving it in the hands of Konami, he became extremely impressed with Geurrilla’s Decima Engine and succeeded in agreeing for it to be used in Death Stranding. The engine is most widely recognised for its debut arrival in Killzone: Shadowfall. The engine was designed for creating artificial intelligence, physics, logics and worlds within development as well as compatibility with 4K and HDR. Guerrilla’s true contribution to the games industry would not only be bolstered by the arrival of Horizon: Zero Dawn, but also that of Until Dawn and the Play Link title, Hidden Agenda. It is most easily recognised in its character designs that involve very softly textured character models. These soft textures allow for less stress on processing units and GPUs leading to a stronger focus on accuracy of motion capture in facial animation. 

iD Tech

Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down  - DOOM

The iD Tech engine began life known as the Doom Engine when it first took shape in the original game of the same name in 1993. iD Tech really began to take shape upon the arrival of DOOM 3. After the previous engine handled Quake Arena, iD Tech 4 would experiment with brand new approaches to lighting and overall texture gloss in DOOM 3 that truly made it look like a next gen game before its time. Despite all the complexities at play with new technology rebuilding the iD look, DOOM 3 would run like a dream on any platform. This would pave the way for iD Tech 5 in Rage which continued to wow audiences with incredibly crisp game environments. Eventually, iD Tech 6 would be used to build 2016’s DOOM reboot and all the tools used in the years before it accumulated into a title that performed excellently on consoles. It made into one of the few titles available for PS4 that could run at 1080p and a consistently smooth 60 frames per second. 

Unity

Top 5 Game Engines That Never Let You Down  - Firewatch

Unity is a cross platform game engine which is extra special as it was designed with both 2D and 3D gaming in mind. It is an extremely versatile engine beloved by game designers from large and small studios alike. Impressively, the Unity Engine is applicable to a staggering twenty seven different platforms, ranging from consoles to PC, from Android TV to mobile operating systems. This allows for incredible flexibility in game design. The most stark contrast can be seen when comparing the cartoonish Firewatch with the photorealism of Layers of Fear. The sheer variety of visual options available to a developer is due to Unity’s support of custom vertex, fragment (or pixel), tessellation, compute shaders and Unity's own surface shaders.

Back in 2012, Unity was already being recognised as a force for change in the games industry with VentureBeat stating  "Few companies have contributed as much to the flowing of independently produced games as Unity Technologies. … More than 1.3 million developers are using its tools to create gee-whiz graphics in their iOS, Android, console, PC, and web-based games. … Unity wants to be the engine for multi-platform games, period." The engine will also be used in the upcoming Oddworld: Soulstorm

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