I am certainly not an expert on the different tools out there to record your gameplay footage, but I can at least tell you what I use and why I am using it. I would first split up the available software into recorders which are mainly intended for streaming and then those for recording gameplay without any streaming capabilities. Since they can offer features for both purposes, the lines blur a bit at times.
XSplit or its free open-source alternative OBS are two tools to record your gameplay, while also being able to stream it (even simultaneously) to services like Twitch. These tools will leave you with smaller file sizes if you plan to upload them without any further editing. Due to their nature as streaming software, the quality of the recorded gameplay will be lower than an high-quality recording with other tools. These tools will also leave you with one single file, rather than several, which severely limits your ability to do editing afterward (except simple cuts). You will not be able to adjust the audio levels afterward, so these tools have to be set up perfectly to get the best results. An added benefit of these tools is that you can directly record your webcam with the game, which makes syncing up your video to your game & audio unnecessary; but keep the downside in mind, that you can’t edit the footage very well.
Bandicam, DXtory or Action! (just to name a few), can record gameplay and audio in several tracks (your microphone and the game audio), enabling you to balance to levels afterward and give you better editing abilities. Especially if you don’t have a high-quality microphone or just want to improve your audio quality with effects later, you want to use one of these. These tools will also generally allow higher quality recordings, so if you plan to edit your videos and render them again, I would highly recommend these over the previously mentioned streaming tools for recording. Except Action!, you won’t be able to use these for streaming. (I haven’t heard much about the streaming functionality, so I can’t say much about it. They have a 30-day trial, if you are interested.)
Bandicam and a few other tools have a way to overlay your gameplay with your webcam, so you won’t have to sync up the footage later on, but I recommend not using these options and using your manufacturers recording software instead. Since most people have Logitech Webcams, this will probably be the Logitech Webcam Software. Other tools for recording your Webcam exist, but this one will do the job. If you want effects, you should add these later!
So what do I use? I am sure a few friends of mine will now cringe… I use XSplit most of the time since I record a lot of series and I save a lot of time not having to render them again. Since I can apply an equalizer and compressor directly to my microphone feed, thanks to my new interface, I don’t need the audio tracks separated to apply effects. I should mention, as much as I like XSplit, it took me a lost of lost footage and frustration until I got myself conditioned to do test recordings for the audio levels. If your game audio is too loud or your microphone set up the wrong, there is pretty much nothing you can do about that. So if you go ahead and use one of these tools, make sure to test, test and test. Not having to use a separate software for streaming, is another bonus for me, since I now know my way around XSplit after over a year of use. I tried OBS for a while, but I am more than willing to pay the 5$ per month for this tool.
If I want higher quality footage and separate tracks for later editing, I will pick Bandicam – it works very well in most cases and its new version presents the settings very well, and it offers good value for the price. I heard good things about DXtory and Action! And the free tool LoiLo looks promising, I just haven’t used any of these myself, so I can’t comment on these.
So what should you use? I would advise against Xsplit for Beginners, not only because of the licensing costs but also because of the inability to edit your footage afterward. Editing something I recommend to beginners – it will take longer, but it will improve your content if you take the time to watch and edit your recordings again. XSplit will give you a finished video that you can upload directly to YouTube without editing it, but unless you do series where you don’t intend to cut anything, it will severely limit your ability to improve your footage after recording in post-production. If you plan to stream, I would recommend checking out OBS first, and if you are happy with it, you can save a few bucks per month – your viewer won’t be able to tell what kind of software you are using, and they both work flawlessly.
I hope I could give you some ideas about recording your gameplay footage and let me know if you have any other questions!
If you want some more information & comparisons on video game recording software, it might be worth checking out these links:
What software do you guys use and why do you prefer it over other tools?