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The Best C++ Game Engines [Updated 2024]

list of c game engines

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When it comes to building a game, a good game engine can make a big difference. Not only can it provide a great platform for game development, but it can also take the gaming experience to new heights. The primary step towards game development is picking the right engine.

For this, you have to know what kind of game you want to develop. Will it be 2D or 3D, what frameworks will be used, and what resources are available for that engine? 

With these factors in mind, you can research various engines and how they can be resourceful to you. In today’s technology, there are many game engines that have different frameworks, hence picking the right engine should be done with great consideration. 

To make the choice simple for you, we have made a list of the best C++ game engines in 2024. Their strengths and resources are the factors that are also mentioned which will make the process simple for you. But first, let’s have a look at what a game engine is and what does it do? 

What is a Game Engine?

A software program with toolkits designed to build games is known as a “game engine.” This definition may seem vague, but there is a good reason: the tools each engine offers can differ considerably between what they are and how they are expressed. Moreover, the majority of the time, game engine tools are made to reduce a part of the monotony of development.

A 3D model, for instance, would be extremely challenging to showcase on display in the past. Without going into great detail, 3D models are nothing more than a collection of mini cubes with corresponding color pixel values. As a result, we basically need to instruct the computer on how to take the parts of the 3D model that we can see, transform them into 2D images, and then allocate each pixel’s tint to a pixel on our screen. 

Game Engine Components:

The game engines have compiled assets of various components. They have a set of optimized graphic engines which are quite fast as compared to standard windows. A few of the components are: 

  1. Input: The primary aspect of any game is its ability to be played. The game engines support many inputs which affect the playability. The most important input methods are the mouse, keyboard, gamepad, etc.
  1. Graphics: 3D assets are the building blocks of 3D games and are typically produced in peripheral 3D rendering software like Maya or Blender before being transferred into the game engine. Game developers can work in their comfortable program and transfer it into a functional system without having to perform anything unnatural, thanks to the numerous exportable formats that game engines proudly support.
  1. Sound: Despite frequently being disregarded, sound is an essential component of video games. It’s not as simple as you might think to add sound effects to video games, especially with the introduction of 3D games.
  1. Networking: Since games haven’t featured multiplayer matchmaking for decades, a social gaming occurrence has emerged that aims to link players’ various gaming experiences with other players. Fortunately, most contemporary game engines provide a ton of pre-made elements and assistant scripts that handle the majority of the heavy lifting, allowing C++ developers to focus on the multiplayer’s sensitivity and fun instead of fearing the complexities of TCP/UDP traffic.
  1. Scripts: Pre-written scripts that can be connected to in-game objects are a significant component of the game engines. Although the terms used vary from engine to engine. Some refer to behavior patterns, while others talk about game objects that are distinct from graphic objects. 

Why Should You Use Game Engines?

There are many reasons why game engines are better than any other traditional method of game development. It provides many significant features which can only be enjoyed if a game engine is used. Many advantages and why we should use game engines are: 

  • Game engines give developers the resources and tools they need to create games. Game engines largely handle the “routine work” of game development so programmers can concentrate on the ambiance, such as the ability to handle the limited graphical optimizations required for a great FPS rate as well as importing common asset styles.
  • Game engines greatly increase effectiveness by lowering the level of expertise needed to create games. They can be fully featured or with very few pre-built features, enabling game designers to concentrate solely on writing code for gameplay.
  • For lone designers or teams who only want to concentrate on creating the best game possible, game engines provide an enormous advantage over beginning with nothing. You won’t be required to create intricate mathematical modules from scratch or figure out precisely how to deliver individual pixels on the screen when creating the example game in this book because Unity’s creators have already completed those tasks for you.

Best C++ Game Engines to Use in 2024

  1. Unity    
unity game engine homepage
Unity Game Engine

The Unity game engine has been in use since 2005 and is now a mainstay of the independent game market. This game engine is frequently updated and suitable for both 2D and 3D games of all kinds. In addition, many businesses and programmers have created handy SDKs for the engine, making it a well-liked option for interactive virtual game development and augmented reality development. 

Additionally, Unity has a sizable user base and an accessible Asset Store including both free and paid assets. It is an excellent option for beginners irrespective of what they wish to create because it is such a powerful engine and independent for game developers. 

Features and Benefits of Unity Game Engine 

  • User Friendly: Unity is very user-friendly as it is compatible with multiple operating systems such as Android, iOS, PC, etc. 
  • Online Tutorials: There are many tutorials available online and on their site which makes it very convenient to understand especially for beginners. 
  • Multiplayer gaming: The Unity engine is used to create some of the most well-liked multiplayer games. Numerous features provided by the platform inspire developers to create top-tier games for players online. The entire game-designing process is enjoyable and easy, thanks to Unity 3D.
  • Less Coding: To operate the Unity game engine, you do not require any coding expertise or experience. Beginners who wish to proceed with game development as a fun hobby or profession can do so with Unity. Even though it uses Boo, JavaScript, and C#, you can still create games without composing any code.

There are many popular games that have used the Unity Game System for their game development. A few of these games are PokemonGo, Rust, Loan Sails, Cuphead, etc. 

  1. Unreal Engine
unreal game engine homepage
Unreal Game Engine

The driving force behind a large number of top triple-A games available today is Unreal Engine. This game engine has been particularly designed to perform many complex tasks more effectively than other engines due to its widespread use in that industry. The engine is open-source, like the others, which means the gaming community is constantly enhancing it. 

Features and Benefits of Unreal Engine

  • Lumen Global Lighting System: The dynamic highly globalized illumination and reflective surfaces in Unreal Engine 5 are called Lumen. Lumen, designed for next-generation console games, provides incredibly lifelike lighting and reflections even in expansive and intricate surroundings.
  • Virtual shadow maps: They offer believable soft shadows and a simple-to-use and straightforward shadow remedy, all at manageable performance costs. Ideal for an interactive and riveting experience.
  • World Partition Tool: World Partition divides the world into grid systems and only launches what is required while maintaining the world as a single file. As a result, everything can be viewed at once, and modification is made simpler irrespective of the size of the area because it will only launch what is required.

Dragon Quest, Gears 5 and Soulcaliber Vl is popular games that have used unreal engines for developing these games. 

  1. Godot
Godot Game Engine
Godot Game Engine

If you’re seeking a free and open-source game engine that allows you to modify it and advertise your games, the Godot game engine is the answer. The engine is versatile enough to be used to create any type of game you want because it embraces both 2D and 3D functionality. In order to distinguish itself from competing companies and make it simpler for many users, Godot also adopts a novel method with its node and scene design to portray particular game functions. 

Features and Benefits of Godot

  • Supported platforms: The engine uses a simplification of texture contraction and resolution settings for every channel and facilitates deployment to various platforms. Only binaries for publisher portals are offered on the webpage, and the Godot editor is where projects are exported for use on other portals.
  • Scripting: For creating games, Godot supports a number of programming languages, including the built-in GDScript, C++, and C#. The engine also features GD Native, a tool for developing connections with other languages. C and C++ are GDN native languages that are properly endorsed.
  • GD Script: GDScript is a high-level, strongly typed programming language that has a similar syntax to Python, with a built-in scripting language for Godot. 

There are a few popular games such as ProtoCorgi, DeepSixed, and Gun-Toting Cats which are developed by using Godot. 

  1. Phaser
Phaser Game Engine
Phaser Game Engine

Although Phaser was first released in about 2013, the most recent version of Phaser which is “Phaser 3”, has only been available since 2018. However, it hasn’t stopped the structure from being very well-liked, particularly among those who wish to create games for mobile devices or web browsers.

Features and Benefits of Phaser are 

  • Compatible: The toolkits of Phaser are very simple to understand and use, which makes it very compatible with mobile as well as web games. 
  • Extremely Stable: Phaser is stable in many aspects as it supports multiple platforms, it is frequently upgraded and it is debugged regularly. 
  • Beginners Friendly: The engine has been made so that it has less complex code. Even if you are not familiar with coding you can still work with this game engine and build games. 

The popular games that have used Phaser for their development are Gemes and Ropes, Magikmon, etc. 

  1. Game Maker Studio 2
GameMaker Game Engine
GameMaker Game Engine

This well-known video game engine was developed in 2017. Even the Nintendo Switch is supported by several platforms that use GameMaker. It is also an extremely user-friendly option for game developers without coding knowledge because it primarily uses a drag-and-drop graphic scripting language that it developed to enable users of all expertise levels to build their ideal games. 

Features and Benefits of Game Maker Studio 2

  • Own Programming Language: Although this engine does not require a lot of coding, it still has its own programming language for those who like to code for building a game. 
  • Beginner Friendly: Just like other game engines, Game Maker Studio 2 is also very simple to understand, especially for beginners. 
  • It also has the easy tool of drag and drop which makes it less time-consuming. 

Hyper Light Drifter, Undertale, and Forager are the most popular games among the gaming community, and they have used GameStudio Maker 2 for these games.

  1. Adventure Game Studio
Adventure Game Studio
Adventure Game Studio

The majority of a game IDE’s features is produced by Adventure Game Studio (AGS). These IDE’s integrates a combined design setting with a C + Coding language. If you are substantial in high-level game design, it is worth using it as a game engine because its editorial staff and development tools offer effective level editing for even beginners. 

Features and Benefits of Adventure Game Studio

  • Well Documented: Manual is one thing, there are various codes, videos, and tutorials written by the community. 
  • Easy to learn: It can be used for prototyping before building a final game, this feature is easy to understand for beginners. 
  • Assets: It has a wide library of scripts and templates for games, which helps construct a game in hours. 
  1. CryEngine  
CryEngine

It is possible to create 3D games, infographics, simulation models, experiments, and more using the open-source CryEngine framework. CryEngine can be fully commercialized, with free access to all operating systems, and preparedness for VR development.

The best-ranked languages can be used to build games for game engines. Because they use an easy-to-use programming language, they give game developers access to a wide range of game engine functionalities, enabling them to produce 3D graphics that are high-quality and realistic easily.

Features and Benefits of CryEngine

  • Documentation: The documentation of CryEngine is very clear to understand as it does not have complicated code. 
  • Visuals: CryEngine has a library of best-in-class visuals that are used for graphics in a game while building it. 
  • AI and Animation: You can easily create realistic-looking 3D and 2D games because of the great features of AI.
  1. Anvil 

Anvil is a C++ game engine created by Ubisoft Montreal in partnership with two of the company’s most popular franchises, Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia. Its utilization of the HumanIK middleware kit from Autodesk is among its most inventive functionalities.

It can produce frameworks in a flexible and fully automated way while adhering to particular design guidelines and layouts, which decreases the duration and manual labor needed by designers and architects to create a complicated urban environment.

Features and Benefits of Anvil

  • The game created using this game engine creates a full day-and-night effect.
  • It supports various platforms such as Windows, Playstation, Xbox, and Wii 

There are many famous games such as Prince of Persia which are widely played. Other examples are Tom Clanney’s Rainbow 6 and Assassin’s Creed II. 

  1. Anura Game Engine 

The game engine for Anura is custom software. After the initial public release of Frogatto & Friends, this game engine was made for general purposes because no additional modifications were required. Any kind of game can be made using Anura without the need for any extra engine modifications.

The designers chose to formalize the separation of the discrete units of script and material required to launch a single game by referring to them as modules.

Features and Benefits of Anura Game Engine

  • Anura has its own logic language, FFL, graphical level editor, and markup language called FSON.
  • By allowing multiple blur objects to be connected to a single personalized object, Anura makes motion blur possible.
  • Anura supports particle structures, a popular graphical method for depicting small details like water spraying, smoke, fire, sparks, and dust.

Frogatto and Friends is one of the most famous games which was built by Anura. Other examples of games are Cube Trains and Argentum Games. 

  1. Aurora Toolset 

The BioWare-developed Aurora engine is a progeny of the Infinity engine. The Aurora toolbox is a set of tools that enables users to create custom digital adventure. These components helps to make game developers’ visions a reality. However, third-party additions such as plug-ins are not supported.

You can develop new components by using the scripting language NWScript provided by Aurora ToolSet. This language has many similarities to certain other languages like Java and C making it very user-friendly. 

Features and Benefits of Aurora Toolset

  • Using the toolset’s plugin functionality, module developers can also interconnect their own components.
  • Since everything can be adjusted with 32-bit color exactness and artifacts can also have a maximum of three different tints, color palettes are not necessary.
  • Tools are models, so the mapper can change artifacts on the map while also having a discussion window open.
  1. C4

The C4 game engine was created in C++ and OpenGL. For consoles and personal computers, C4 creates high-resolution 3D games. As a result of the Gaming Engine’s ability virtual simulation models, creators can explore different vistas and create amazing work.

Features and Benefits of C4

  • The engine employs 16-bit mono or stereo testing with the WAV audio file. The engine has the ability to play audio from a disk drive or memory.
  • The engine’s World Editor is a tool for building 3D assets, including geometric figures, light, audio, and various effects.

Conclusion

Game Engines give game developers a base for establishing games. You must investigate the universe of game engines if you wish to advance your abilities in developing games or game design.

We advise you to learn about 3D games in the C++ framework before beginning your first emergence to developing games. It will help you to take your first steps toward the path to begin. It also helps you to choose an appropriate game engine for game development.

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