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15 Recommended Level Design Editors for Download

Category: Level Design
December 10, 2012 (Updated July 17, 2014)

Update: This page is currently being updated with new info, new level editors and links. To be published soon.

There are a lot of level design editors (map editors) available. From original Half Life and Team Fortress to more current games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Crysis 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Skyrim.

If you have been following World of Level Design, I primarily focus on level design and environment art for first-person shooter games. But level editors are just tools to get your ideas into players hands. Many of the level editors I list have been used for other game genres. From racing to 2D top down shooters to puzzles and third person action games.

Following is a list of level editors you can download and begin using. Below you will find editors that I either I have used in the past, continue to use or recommend to use.

Make sure to check out all the tutorials within this series listed below:

Level Editors/Game Engines Series:

15 Recommended Level Design Editors

23 Recommended 3D Game Engines

What Level Editor and Game Engine Should You Use - (How to Choose)

First, let me cover the basics of what a level editor is. If you are familiar with level design, feel free to skip this section.

What is a Level Editor (Map Editor?)

Level editor is software that is used to create levels/maps for a specific game engine and specific game. Level editor allows level designers to create the world that the player will navigate, interact with and play in.

Level designers are able to create new mission types, new worlds, and new content for a game without modifying any code to the game engine itself. Level editors usually come packaged with the game engine as part of the toolset for game designers. Then the level editor is configured for a specific game.

So if you want to create new maps for Left4Dead2 you would need to download the L4D2 Authoring Tools. These mod tools will give you access to the level editor and everything you need to create custom map campaigns to add to the world of L4D2. Same goes for any other level editor (map editor). In order to map for Call of Duty Black Ops, you need to download the SDK toolset with the level editor for Black Ops. You cannot use L4D2 level editor to create maps for Call of Duty: Black Ops or vice versa.

Level editor usually comes bundled with the game engine and its tools, also known as SDK or Software Development Kit (Mod Tools). More on Game Engines and SDK in this tutorial.

Level editors are either shipped with the game or released later as a download. Usually the level editing tools become available as a download after the game is out. Many level editors are never released to the public and are only used in-studio where the game was created.

So if you ever wanted to create new maps, new missions, new worlds to an already existing game, this list will give you options to do so.

Lets go through WoLD recommended level editor list:

1. UNREAL EDITOR / UNREAL ENGINE 4

Level Editor: Unreal Editor, Unreal Engine 4 Editor

Game Engine: Unreal Engine 4, (UDK)
(Wikipedia.org Unreal Engine)

Games: Unreal Tournament 3, Bioshock 1/2, Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War Series, Borderlands 1/2, Dishonored and many, many more.
(Wikipedia.org - Unreal Engine Game List)

Download Option 1: UDK (Unreal Development Kit)/Unreal Engine 3
www.unrealengine.com/downloads/

Download Option 2: If you want to go back to an earlier version of Unreal Engine and map for Unreal Tournament 2k4 or UT3, you will need a copy of each game.

Download Option 3: All other options will depend on a game that uses Unreal Engine 3 and made its Mod Tools available for download.

Tutorials UDK: UDK Tutorials

2. UNREAL EDITOR / UDK

Level Editor: Unreal Editor, UDK Editor

Game Engine: Unreal Engine 3, (UDK)
(Wikipedia.org Unreal Engine)

Games: Unreal Tournament 3, Bioshock 1/2, Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War Series, Borderlands 1/2, Dishonored and many, many more.
(Wikipedia.org - Unreal Engine Game List)

Download Option 1: UDK (Unreal Development Kit)/Unreal Engine 3
www.unrealengine.com/downloads/

Download Option 2: If you want to go back to an earlier version of Unreal Engine and map for Unreal Tournament 2k4 or UT3, you will need a copy of each game.

Download Option 3: All other options will depend on a game that uses Unreal Engine 3 and made its Mod Tools available for download.

Tutorials UDK: UDK Tutorials

3. HAMMER SOURCE

Level Editor: Hammer Source Level Editor

Game Engine: Source Engine
(Wikipedia.org Source Game Engine)

Games: L4D2/L4D1, CS: GO, CS:S, Day of Defeat: Source, Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, Portal 1 and 2, Team Fortress 2.

TF2 is free to play and download from steam. You can also get authoring tools to level editor for free.

Download: You will need a copy of the game and Steam. You can download Source Level Editor and full SDK. Tutorial how to download Source Engine Level Editors.

Tutorials: Left 4 Dead 2 Tutorials, Left 4 Dead 1 Tutorials, Counter-Strike Global Offensive Tutorials

4. SANDBOX EDITOR / CRYENGINE 3 SDK

Level Editor: Sandbox Editor

Game Engine: CryEngine 3
(Wikipedia.org - CryEngine)

Games: Crysis 1, 2 and 3, Warface, Homefront 2
(Wikipedia.org - CryEngine Game List)

Download Option 1: CryEngine 3 SDK is a free download from CryDev.net

Download Option 2: Purchase Crysis 2 and download Sandbox Editor here from Crydev.net

Tutorials: CryEngine 3 SDK Tutorials

5. SCENE EDITOR / UNITY3D

Level Editor: Scene Editor

Game Engine: Unity3D
(Wikipedia.org Unity Game Engine)

Games: Need For Speed World, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Wolf Quest, Global Conflicts.
(Unity3D Game List)

Download: Download Unity3D from Unity3d.com

6. CREATION KIT (SKYRIM)

Level Editor: Creation Kit

Game Engine: Creation Engine

Games: Skyrim

Download: Download Skyrim Creation Kit through Steam. You must own a copy of Skyrim.

Tutorials: Creation Kit Wiki page http://www.creationkit.com/

7. GTKRADIANT (QUAKE 3, RTCOW, SoF2...)

Level Editor: GtkRadiant
(Wikipedia.org GtkRadiant)

Game Engine: id Tech 3
(Wikipedia.org Id Tech_3)

Games: Return to Castle of Wolfenstein, Solider of Fortune 2, Quake Live, Quake III Arena, Urban Terror, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Jedi Academy.

Download: Download the level editor here from Icculus.org

8. D3RADIANT (DOOM 3/THE DARK MOD)

Level Editor: D3Radiant

Game Engine: id Tech 4
(Wikipedia.org Id Tech 4)

Games: Doom 3

Download Option 1: Copy of the game Doom 3 comes bundled with a level editor.

Download Option 2: Download D3Radiant for DarkMod, Thief inspired modification of Doom3 game engine here from Darkradiant.Sourceforge.net. For more info on The Dark Mod modification visit their website.

9. GTKRADIANT (QUAKE 4)

Level Editor: GtkRadiant
(Wikipedia.org GtkRadiant)

Game Engine: id Tech 4
(Wikipedia.org Id Tech 4)

Games: Quake 4, Brink, Prey

Download: Download Quake 4 level editor here from Iddevnet.com

10. SERIOUS LEVEL EDITOR (SERIOUS SAM SERIES)

Level Editor: Serious Level Editor

Game Engine: Serious Engine

Games: Serious Sam Series

Download Option 1: You have to own the game and download mod tools through Steam.

Download Option 2: If you want earlier versions of Series Sam level editor, you will need a copy of the game and download the level editor.

Link: Croteam website has a lot of additional tools, maps and files for level editing for all the Serious Sam games.

11. GTKRADIANT (CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE)

Level Editor: GtkRadiant
(Wikipedia.org/ GtkRadiant)

Game Engine: IW Engine
(Wikipedia.org IW Engine)

Games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 1/2

Download Option 1: Mod Tools for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare from ModDB.com

Download Option 2: Mod Tools for Call of Duty: Black Ops - you have to own a copy of the game and download mod tools through Steam.

12. CHROMED LEVEL EDITOR

Level Editor: Chromed Level Editor

Game Engine: Chrome 5 (Chrome Engine)
(Wikipedia.org Chrome_Engine)

Games: Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, Dead Island

Download Option 1: Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood level editor from CoJModding.com

Download Option 2: Dead Island level editor from DeadIslandWiki.com/

Tutorials: http://www.cojmodding.com/

13. G.E.C.K

screenshot: fallout.wikia.com

Level Editor: G.E.C.K

Game Engine: Gamebryo
(Wikipedia.org Gamebryo)

Games: Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas

Download: Download here from BethSoft.com

Tutorials: geck.bethsoft.com/index.php/Main_Page

Following few were user submitted, which didn't make the original list.

14. FAR CRY 3 MAP EDITOR

screenshot: fallout.wikia.com

Level Editor: G.E.C.K

Game Engine: Gamebryo
(Wikipedia.org Gamebryo)

Games: Far Cry 3

Download: Level editor is included with the game.

15. WARCRAFT 3 GAME MAKER

screenshot: fallout.wikia.com

Level Editor: G.E.C.K

Game Engine: Gamebryo
(Wikipedia.org Gamebryo)

Games: Far Cry 3

Download: Level editor is included with the game.

Additional Links:

WoLD Forum Discussion: Games With Level Editors

For an extensive full list of other level editors that I didn't list to take a look at this Wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_level_editors

Do you use any of the above level editors? Have you tried any or interested in trying? Let us know here on WoLD Forums Recommended Level Design Editors.

Updated & Revised - Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Your Game Environments and Level Designs

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Not to be reproduced without prior written consent.