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Top 10 Video Game Graphics Engines

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Max Bledstein Time to take a look at what’s going on underneath the hood of your favorite games. Join http:/www.WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Game Graphics Engines. For this list, we ranked the best looking video game graphics engines, based on how they perform in a variety of games. Special Thanks to our users "Zeke Woodz" "Callum Prentice" "mac121mr0" "coolguy700able" & "Jimmy Avitts" for suggesting this topic on our Suggestion Tool WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Max Bledstein

Top 10 Video Game Graphics Engines


Time to take a look at what’s going on underneath the hood of your favorite games. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 video game graphics engines.

For this list, we ranked the best looking video game graphics engines, based on how they perform in a variety of games.

#10: Anvil Engine (2007-)

Versions of this engine have also been known as “Scimitar” and “AnvilNext,” but it’s a fantastic framework for a game under any name. Featuring environmental modeling done in 3ds Max and character modeling using the digital sculpting tool ZBrush, it’s been used by Ubisoft in games like “Assassin’s Creed II,” where it was upgraded to depict an entire 24 hour cycle. Under the “AnvilNext” name, starting in “Assassin’s Creed III,” it featured an amazing weather system, which depicted automatic cycling.

#9: Fox Engine (2013-)

Despite being the newest entry on our list, this engine has been impressive since debuting. The cross-platform engine was designed by Kojima Productions, and it was their first move towards developing for multiple platforms. Given that it’s named for a military unit in the “Metal Gear” series, it’s only natural that the engine showed its greatness in “MGS V: Ground Zeroes” and will continue to wow gamers in “The Phantom Pain”.

#8: Unity Engine (2005-)

Although most of the entries on our list focus on AAA titles, we certainly care about indie games too, and this engine powers many of them. It’s perfect for just about any platform indie developers hope to work in, since its focus on portability allows it to be supported by PC, Mac, Linux, mobile, and consoles. Wherever they use it, they get its dynamic shadows, thanks in part due to it’s built in shadow mapping technology. But you’ll probably be too focused on the pretty colors.


#7: Naughty Dog Game Engine (2007-)

This engine was designed specifically for the PS3, and its creators used the focus to showcase just how much that console was capable of. It filled the beautiful environments of the “Uncharted” series and the zombie masterpiece “Last of Us” with tons of dynamic objects with independent physics, and proved equally adept at showcasing cinematics and gameplay. Both elements of these incredible games do a great job of featuring the engine’s stunning light and sound.

#6: Frostbite Engine (2008-)

Some engines work equally well in a variety of genres, and this EA exclusive entry is a perfect example. Whether you’re engaging in the squad-based ombat of the Battlefield games, the frenetic racing of Need for Speed Rivals or just riding a horse through the lush forests of Dragon Age Inquisition, it features dynamic worlds with constantly changing wind, water, and weather. Its incredible lighting, courtesy of beautiful volumetric effects and ambient occlusion, only add to the gorgeous photorealism.


#5: RAGE Engine (2006-)

Rockstar is one of the most well-known developers amongst gamers and non-gamers alike, and their in-house engine epowers many of their recent successes. It’s played a crucial role in the creation of their detailed worlds, like the gritty Los Angeles underworld of “L.A. Noire” or the ictionalized version of LA in Grand Theft Auto 5. It also uses Euphoria for character animation and Bullet for physics, both of which help to make their worlds into reactive and believable places.


#4: iD Tech 3 (1999-2010)

This engine has seen a variety of iterations, but none of them were quite as successful as this one. It made an impressive debut in the FPS “Quake III Arena,” where it showcased nicer curves than another else could produce at the time. It loads beautiful 3D models in the MD3 format, using vertex movements, which allow for more complex and less shaky animations than its MD2 predecessor. But it wasn’t all about frags though, as it also powered the earliest call of duty and some of the best star wars games ever.


#3: CryEngine (2004-)

CryTek made a big splash amongst gamers with their debut, “Far Cry,” and their engine certainly helped. Using its famed visuals, it brought the terrains of the game’s South Pacific archipelago setting to life. Even better, its ability to function without third-party middleware allows it to produce equally incredible physics, sound, and animations. CryEngine 2 was almost too much for most PCs to handle, but Cry 3 scaled the requirements back a bit while still pushing the shiny new tech to it’s limits.


#2: Source Engine (2004-)

Valve is responsible for some of the most unique and creative titles seen in gaming recently, and they also created one of its most useful engines. It first showed its capabilities in the action of “Counter-Strike: Source” and “Half-Life 2,” where it allowed for realistic interactions with environments, as well as lifelike depictions of skeletal structures, localizable lip-sync and groundbreaking physics. Even better, its scalability allows it to produce these features on less powerful PCs and the Xbox 360.

Before we get to our number one, let’s take a look at some honorable mentions:

Dunia Engine (2008-)


Geo-Mod Engine (2001-09)


Infinity Engine (1998-)


#1: Unreal Engine (1998-)

This engine has become among the most used in games for good reason, just as it fully deserves its place at the top of our list. Effectively simulating soft body objects such as hair and cloth, or using its rendering capabilities for soft shadows, it’s practically peerless, and its C++ coding makes it highly portable. Pretty much every title of the last generation had a bit of Unreal 3 in it, whether it’s Bioshock, Gears of War, Infinity Blade or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – chances are you’ve played it the most and never even knew it.

Do you agree with our list? What video game graphics engine do you think looks the best? For more pretty top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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