4 free games engines to download today

Want to get into games? These 3D engines are powerful enough for the pros but are available for free.

Getting into the games industry used to be an expensive business, but if you have the skills and dedication, the good news is that you can now get a foot on the ladder while working from home without having to splash a whole load of cash.

It used to be that if you wanted to use a third party 3D engine to build your gaming masterpiece, you'd need to pay out plenty of money; at least, you would if you wanted a decent one with up-to-date features. But with the rise of the indie gaming sector, the big names in 3D engines have realised that it makes a lot of sense to put their tools into the hands of anyone who wants to use them, so that they can reap the rewards later.

All four of these engines are available to download right now, and you can save even more money by finding some free 3D models to use in them. Of course if you use them to create a successful commercial game then you may have to pay out further down the line, but they're all an ideal way to learn your game development skills.

01. Unity

Unity's the leader in the free engine stakes

The leader in free software for game development, Unity was available for free before anyone else and benefitted massively, becoming a mainstay of the indie game community. Not the most artist-friendly engine.

02. Unreal engine

Unreal Engine is a great choice for artists

Epic Games' engine is powerful and offers a user-friendly, node-based system, and is now free. UE is the choice engine for artists wanting to avoid coding and focus on real-time rendering and scene creation.

03. Stingray

Stingray lacks power but comes with plenty of assets

Not as powerful as Unreal or Unity, Autodesk's entry into the market is easy to use and comes with pre-made assets to adapt and use, meaning coding can be minimal.

04. Lumberyard

It's early days for Lumberyard but it has a good pedigree

Amazon's entry into the sector is still in beta and is based on the powerful Crytek CryEngine. The bugs are still being ironed out, but this could fit neatly between Unity and Unreal Engine. 

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 213; buy it here!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Simon is a digital artist with 22 years' experience working in video games. He's worked at Sony and Rare and joined the team at Escape Studios in 2008, where he is the head of games, leading the games art courses.