For some of you gamers, the phrase First Person Shooter (FPS) may send a shiver down your spine. The thought of yet another announcement of an overdeveloped, overused, and outdated concept may make you question why you should play games in the first place. And yes, I do see your point, but it isn’t a new thing for companies to relentlessly create games that match the current trend. *Cough Cough* Battle Royales.
But in all seriousness, it’s hard to not argue about how much of an impact this genre has had on the gaming industry. It’s a genre that gives gamers the chance to see what their characters see. You’re not just experiencing events as them, but acting on them. It’s such an immersive, and engaging way for people to play games, and there’s no surprise as to why it’s become so popular. Many FPS games have been made over the decades, with some having a rather large following, and praise. But others have changed the way we not only look at the genre but games in general. So as a bit of fun, why not make a list of the best?
Just a brief disclaimer before I start, and I do have to make this clear, this list is my opinion. So, if I do miss your favorite FPS game from the mid-90s, it’s not because I hate it, or think its outdated. It’s more than likely due to the fact I’ve never played it before.
So, without haste, here are the 10 best First Person Shooters ever created.
10: Alien Isolation
Let’s start with a controversial one. Now some of you might argue that Alien Isolation isn’t a traditional First Person Shooter, and I can see what you mean, at its heart it’s a survival horror game. But in my opinion, I think the game features a substantial amount of FPS aspects within the gameplay, with the use of flamethrowers, revolvers, shotguns, and bolt guns. And if people can class any of the first-person Resident Evil games as survival horror, first-person shooters, then I think it’s fair to put Alien Isolation on this list.
So away from my tirade, lets get into this masterpiece.
Alien Isolation places you in the shoes of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of franchise heroin, and all out badass Ellen Ripley. You are on a mission to find your mother who has gone missing, following the events of Alien. On your search, you come across the abandoned ship of the Sevastopol, where you learn very quickly that the ship has a very… unwelcome visitor. A Xenomorph, and your mission is to escape
The reason why I see this game in such high regard is its use of tension, along with it’s gameplay. Never have I felt so powerless in a game. And you may be asking, ‘Richard don’t any of your weapon’s work against the Xenomorph?’ Reader… oh sweet naive reader, the easy answer is no. They don’t. You are powerless against this thing. There may even be times where you think you’ve outsmarted the Alien, narrowly escaping its deadly bite. But no, it’s programmed to learn from it’s mistakes. The devs really thought of every way to make you feel like the prey.
The game truly revolutionized first-person horror, and has had its influence seen in more recent titles such as: Resident Evil 7 and Village. Alien Isolation is not only one of the scariest games I’ve ever played, but is one of the most underappreciated titles ever created, and absolutely deserves a spot on this list.
9: Rainbow Six Siege
One of the very few games on this list that I still play regularly. Rainbow Six Siege (R6S) is a multiplayer-only tactical squad-based FPS that see’s you play on two factions of operators, the Attackers and defenders. Where your mission is to protect or attack an objective with the use of different operators, all with different equipment to help you beat the other team.
What makes R6S so good is how good it’s gameplay is. With a variation of ways for you to win a round, by either killing the entire team, or successfully defend/attack the objective. You can blow holes in almost every surface of a level, you can lean around corners, and even drone out areas of the map, to let you know where potential enemies could be. Along with this, the game is actually quite unique compared to most modern military shooters, with you being less of a bullet sponge, and more of a bullet piece of paper, with you being able to be killed with one bullet to the head, making the game force you to use every piece of equipment you have available.
Because of all these aspects, every game you play feels different, due to the fact that there’s so many ways for you to either defend or attack the room. One game a massive hole can be blown in a wall and it can be a massive shootout between teams. And another where different parts of the roof have been destroyed, so members of your team have to leave from the objective, and flank the enemy. It’s absolutely brilliant.
To this day, the game is still being supported and updated by Ubisoft, due to the sheer amount of players the game still has seven years after it’s launch. It’s so unique compared to other shooters on the market, and 100% deserves the fan base it has. Along with many other fans, I look forward to the game to be supported for many more years to come.
When Overwatch was released almost 6 years ago, it absolutely blew the genre open with how unique, and fun the game was. It was released at a time when realistic military first-person shooters were seen as being the norm. Overwatch was charming, whacky, and had maps that were full of color and personality. It was a game that no gamer had seen before, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest multiplayer-only first-person shooters ever, due to its look alone. But trust me, there’s so much more to this title.
The game sees you play on two teams of six, where you must either protect or attack an objective. You do this with a plethora of operators that possess their own unique weapons, and abilities. Each character is assigned to a class specialty. With their being DPS, Medics, Tanks, and defenders, all of which are unique in their own way. What was praised most about the game at the time of release, was how well all of the characters worked together, whoever you chose. You could use any mixture of characters, if this be a team full of medics, or a mixture of different class specialties, the team would work, and most importantly, it was extremely fun. Similar to another game that will feature later on in this list, each character had their own backstory, and personality, which made you connect with them easier. At times, I wouldn’t pick the character who had the best abilities, but the ones who I thought were the better characters in the game. For the first time for a lot of people, this was a game where you played as characters you understand, and even cared about, something that when you look back it is very easy to appreciate.
Although up for debate, Overwatch was the game that popularized hero shooters. With the awards the game has gathered over the years, it was no surprise that the game would get a sequel. Which is finally releasing later this year. Many remember the impact that this game had on the industry so many years ago, with it inspiring many hero shooters we see to this day. If their was a hall of fame for multiplayer shooters, I am very sure that this would most definitely be a member.
7: Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 is considered to not only have some of the best gameplay ever but also, it has one of the best stories ever written. This is primarily due to it introducing gamers to one of the greatest villains ever seen in gaming history, Handsome Jack. A bastard that you loved to hate. A villain so good, that 2K seemed to be unable to stop bringing him back one way or another. With him featuring in The Pre-Sequel, the telltale game, and Borderlands 3. What must also be mentioned is that Borderlands 2 had a major impact on many future titles, with the game popularizing the genre of the ‘Looter Shooter’. A game genre we have seen in games such as Destiny, Warframe, and The Division.
Now, away from its impact, let’s get onto the legendary gameplay.
The number of ways you can play the game is incredible, primarily due to the vault hunters that were available. The game launched with four: Salvador, Zero, Maya, and Axton, and later, added Gaige and Krieg. Each character not only had different skills, and abilities, but also had a specialty for certain weapons. For example, zero specializes in snipers, Maya specializes in SMGs, and Salvador specializes in… well everything. What made the game so impressive at the time, was the sheer number of guns that players could obtain. Each with very different aspects, that possess their own positives, and negatives. This gives players a number of builds that a player can make, meaning every person playing the game could potentially be using a completely unique build. The game is primarily known for its grinding factor, which at the time was extremely unique for a first-person shooter. Each gun in the game had its own loot drop, with some weapons being dropped from a variety of random mini-bosses, and raid bosses spread through the game’s world.
This sequel did not just improve on the first game, but absolutely changed what was expected in a story-based first-person shooter genre. Borderlands 2 for many is seen as being 2K’s greatest title, and in all honesty, it’s very hard not to argue against this statement.
6: Team Fortress 2
Remember when I talked about hero-based shooters? Well, this game was the granddaddy of them all. Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is considered to have had an immense impact on the gaming industry. Due to its effort to give the characters of their game a backstory. This is something that not many games in the past had done. These videos named the ‘Meet the’ series, were released before the game shipped, to try and advertise the game. This gave fans an insight into the personality of the game’s characters, as well as learning more about the game’s world. At the time, this was a marketing genius and is something that is commonly seen nowadays.
What makes Team Fortress 2 so engaging is its gameplay. It was a game that similar to Overwatch, gave players a chance to use characters that had different abilities, and weapons, I don’t mean this as any sort of offense, but in my opinion, TF2 is better than Overwatch. Each character available can change the course of a game in a matter of a single play, with a mechanic placing a turret in a good spot, a spy hiding undercover intelligently, and a pyro doing a good flank. You could never strategize or plan what was going to happen, which made the game so much more fun. Along with PVP, the game featured a legendary PVE mode called Mann vs Machine. A six-player coop game mode that saw you defend a Mann Co. facility from AI robots who were to trying to destroy it. It was absolutely incredible and was almost a Left 4 Dead but in the TF2 universe. So much fun. The game also gave players the ability to make their own game modes and maps with Valve’s Source engine. Which I imagine for many players, including myself, allowed you to play a plethora of unique and fun servers, and game modes.
TF2 gives you so much freedom and fun for a free title. And yes, it is a contributor to the micro-transaction issue that we’ve seen over the last decade. But it cannot be argued how amazing this game was for its time, and it shows, with Valve still releasing updates for the game to this day. It not only inspired many hero shooters but has had a massive impact on multiplayer games in general.
5: Halo 3
The first game I ever played on an Xbox 360, and in my opinion not only the best Halo game but also the greatest Xbox exclusive ever made. The game saw you reprise the role of John-117, and was a direct sequel to Halo 2. The story is simple, Destroy the flood & the Covenant. By any means necessary. Chief was already a badass, but Halo 3 made him one of the best lead characters ever. The single-player is notable for having some of the best set pieces ever seen in any single-player mode. The sheer size and scale of some of the areas you visit on your journey as Chief are ridiculous, and jaw-dropping, especially for the time. The single-player may have been other worldly, but what made this game so legendary was its multiplayer.
The game launched with 9 game modes, and 11 maps on launch. All of which were absolutely iconic. The game is synonymous for being one of the greatest multiplayer sandboxes of all time. It allows you to use a plethora of weapons, vehicles, and spaceships. The maps were your playground, and you could do anything you wanted to try and beat the other team. What other game at the time let you and your buddies hop in a warthog to an enemy base. One of you driving, one of you shooting an M41 light machine gun, and the other shooting an enemy team with a rocket launcher. It was chaotic beauty, and I just can’t give the game enough credit.
At the time when the game released, Halo was at the height of its popularity. So many people were playing and making content surrounding the game. Like c’mon who else played ranked games and custom lobbies till the early hours of the morning? It was legendary, and to this day is one of the greatest times I’ve ever had with a video game. With me still talking to friends I made on the game decades later.
To some, it may have been your run-of-the-mill run and gun shooter, but to so many, this game means so much more. It was the game they grew up with, and to this day I can occasionally be found replaying the legendary story mode, just to refuel some old nostalgia. This game has had such an impact on not only my life as a gamer, but millions of others too, and I will never forget the memories I had playing it. Easily one of the greatest Multiplayer modes ever made.
4: Half Life 2
It would be pretty ridiculous if I didn’t feature this game on the list. The game that in my opinion changed gaming forever, and made Valve one of the most recognizable, and most celebrated game developers on planet earth. The game sees you put back into the shoes of Gordon Freeman, almost 20 years after the events of the Black Mesa Research Facility incident. Where you must join the resistance of earth, and free humanity from the clutches of the invaders of earth, the Combine. What was so unique about not only Half-Life 2, but all of Valve’s future titles was that the story of Half-Life 2 was extremely vague. A lot of the story is either shown to you in the background of the environment, or through very small hints in dialogue. It was extremely unique for the time and is something we do see regularly in modern titles such as the majority of FromSoftware titles.
The game is commonly known for introducing the world to The Source Engine. An engine that completely changed gaming forever. The spiritual successor to GoldSrc, the engine that created the original Half-Life title in 1998. It revolutionized gaming with its use of realistic character models, facial expressions, and level design, and introduced the world to some of the best physics-based gameplay we’ve ever seen in a game. It was one of the first games that gave players the ability to use their environment to kill enemies and solve puzzles by moving and carrying items. It may sound like something that should be expected in any game nowadays, but Half-Life 2 was the game that introduced all of these aspects. What is also praised about Valve is that they openly released the source engine tools online. This meant that any person online could make their own mods, levels, videos, and even games for absolutely free. Which has inspired some of the best games found on PC, including: Gary’s Mod, The Stanley Parable, and even Titanfall 2. The engine was used by Valve until 2014 and was later replaced by Source 2, with the newer engine being used for games such as: Artifact, Dota Underworlds, and VR game Half-Life: Alyx. And if you didn’t think what I said was enough to prove to you that this game had such an impact on the industry. Half-Life 2 was also the first game to launch on a small distribution platform at the time developed by Valve. This platform was called Steam. So yeah… it was pretty important.
Half-Life 2 not only changed the expectation for most First-person shooters but all games in general. Its impact cannot be understated, with many, to all games having some kind of inspiration for this legendary title, and because of this, there’s no wonder why people have wanted a numbered sequel to this legendary title for almost 2 decades.
Oh, where do I start with this one? The game is considered by many to have one of the greatest stories not just seen in gaming, but in media in general. Set in the 1960s, it sees you play as Jack, a man who survives a plane crash and takes refuge in a lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He is then unwillingly provided entry to the underwater Rapture, where Jack learns very quickly that it isn’t as much of the utopia it is made up to be. Leading Jack to be strung into the middle of a conspiracy that will either destroy or save the people of Rapture.
What also makes Bioshock such a classic is its setting. Rapture is considered by many to be the greatest setting for a game ever created, and honestly, I have to agree. The underwater city is a shell of what it used to be. Walking through the once-thriving halls is extremely daunting. The walls painted in blood, flooded rooms, and even abandoned baby cribs. The setting of rapture does an unbelievable job of making you feel like an outsider, you should not be here, and guess what? There’s no way of getting out of there. It doesn’t help that the once well-mannered, and high society residents of rapture have now become psychopaths trying to murder you. The game isn’t really considered to be a horror game, but it’s fair to say that Rapture is easily one of the scariest locations in gaming history.
The gameplay is something else with it giving you a variety of ways for you to deal with these enemies. This commonly was with a variety of guns, but also the use of tonics. These tonics give the players different abilities, some giving you the ability to shoot fire, and lightning. These helped when taking out certain enemies, all having different weaknesses. Along with tonics that also improved your hacking skills, damage output, and even damage resistance. Gunplay is fun, fast, and unique along with the combat tonics. It truly is a blast.
Although the story is very well known for revealing itself in little crumbs, through audio logs, and the game’s scenery. It really is difficult not to talk about Bioshock’s story without talking about that… Very big revelation… Some of you may not have played Bioshock, and if you haven’t, please don’t spoil the plot for yourself. It really does need to be experienced blind, because dear god, its absolutely insane. It is storytelling genius. I was lucky enough to witness the twist blind, and it blew my mind. And if I’ve not sold the game enough to you, then would you kindly buy it?
2: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
The game that changed everything. Before MW was released, Call of Duty was just your run-of-the-mill WW2 military First Person Shooter franchise. But then Modern Warfare came out and turned Call of Duty into the biggest gaming franchise in history. COD 4 was developed by Infinity Ward, and Activision in 2007, and was shipped with a single-player story, and a multiplayer mode.
Starting with the story mode campaign. It’s set in 2011 and sees you play as a number of characters around the world trying to unravel the plot of infamous terrorist Imran Zakhaev. It will see you go to war-ridden countries, infiltrate tanker ships, and even visit desolate nuclear wastelands to try and stop World War 3 from becoming a near certainty. The mode features some of the greatest set pieces in COD history, with the most notable being the infamous Nuke detonation half way through the game, which still gives me goosebumps. The narrative of the mode is fantastic, with it featuring a plethora of twists and turns to keep you invigorated. It clearly took influence from other military movies at the time, and it really shows. The story feels real, and at times is scarily believable. It inspired many of the COD campaigns of the present with its serious writing, use of high scale set pieces, and the careful use of it’s characters. Many fans may overlook it to later campaigns, which is fair, but in my eyes it’s one of the better COD campaigns out there.
Now, lets talk about the real reason this game is so high on this list, the multiplayer. For it’s time, it was unreal. With it being one of the first games that let you equip different perks, and give you full customization of your weapons through the create a class feature. Along with this it was one of the first game to feature a progression system, which allowed you to unlock new cosmetics and attachments for your weapons. Along with it being one of the first games to let you earn prestige levels, and maybe most memorable, earn killstreaks. All of these may sound custom for any multiplayer game now a days, but for the time it was absolutely revolutionary. What the multiplayer’s greatest strength was it’s simplicity. It was so easy to play. The controls were straight forward, it wasn’t difficult for you to learn strategy, and most importantly it was fun. It was so good that to this day Call of Duty still uses the same run and gun form of gameplay, and you can’t see it changing anytime soon.
The social aspect of COD 4’s multiplayer is very rarely talked about, as I truly believe it was one of the primary reasons for the franchise’s popularity. Without game chats, and interaction between players, it may not have popularized gaming on platforms such as YouTube, and to the idea of streaming. Truly a masterful, and fun time for gamers that we may never see again.
COD 4 was the god father of multiplayer shooters. It’s innovation, thought, and simplicity made it one of the easiest games to pick up. It was the game that introduced gamers to a franchise that for nearly two decades has constantly been successful in releasing high quality, and fun titles. The sheer admiration I have for this game can not be understated. Some may see the franchise as a typical annual cash grab, but to many, it has inspired an infinite list of multiplayer games we see today, and will do in the future. COD 4 isn’t just the one of the best First-Person shooters of all time, but is in my eyes the greatest multiplayer game ever created.
1: Doom (2016)
I bet you didn’t see this one coming did you? Now dear reader you may feel betrayed, maybe even angered. You may be sat there thinking ‘why and how is Doom (2016) the best FPS game of all time?’ Well, I’ll answer that for you. It’s perfection. I remember when this game was announced in 2015, and being blown away with the new look and feel of the title. It was what I always imagined what the original Doom would look like in modern times. Gory, fast paced, and the most metal thing ever. Doom (2016) finds the beauty in its carnage. The first game I ever played was the original Doom (1993), and it gave me such a unique feeling when I played it. That same feeling came back when playing Doom (2016), the feeling of being unstoppable.
In this game, Doom Guy has had some upgrades, no longer is he just your run of the mill space marine barely scraping survival. You are now the walking demon slayer. During the game you obtain different weapons that you can use to kill your enemies in different ways. For instance you can get an assault rifle that either shoot mini rockets, or be used as a long range sniper rifle. Of course the game also gives you the series classics, such as the Double Barrel Shotgun, that you can also upgrade, and of course the BFG. These upgrades are done by picking up service bots throughout the story, that let you then pick what additional attachments you want to add to your weaponry. Doom Guy can also be upgraded through the use of praetor tokens that you pick up off of corpses, and argent energy caches. These upgrades can vary from how much ammo you can carry, to how much health you can have.
Something that I really love about Doom (2016) is that it truly is adrenaline in physical form. The game is so fluid. You move like your on skates, never stopping, slipping, sliding, and jumping from enemy to enemy dodging all their projectiles. This is also noticed when you move from one weapon to another. You don’t have to go into the pause menu and select your weapon that way. Similar to the original doom, you can either press a button to swap from weapon to weapon . The weapons and actions you have available all have a purpose in the gameplay. Need ammo? Use your chainsaw or use a death move. You are struggling against an extremely powerful enemy like a Baron of Hell? Use your BFG. The freedom, the choices and strategies you have available to you is utterly masterful, and it really makes the game so much fun to play.
The setting of this game is also fantastic. A UAC facility that really has gone to hell. People that have stupidly decided to research demon technology to better humanity, but causing them to go mad is such a good premise. The halls of this game really do remind me of Bioshock. Each area tells you a story. Hallways that covered in blood and corpses. Areas that have massive holes in them, because demons have forced themselves in to kill civilians. This facility was once full of life and people. But now because of the mistakes of these people have made on the base, you have to clean up the crap.
I have to say this because I don’t think it’s said enough, but Mick Gordon is a genius. He without a doubt is one of the best gaming composers to ever live, and in all honestly must be thanked for creating one of the greatest soundtracks in gaming history. The soundtrack is a character. The soundtrack is hard hitting, and never gives you a chance to breath. You’re hearing the sanity of your character bleed away as you claw through the unholy army that stands before you on this mars base. The longer you go through the game, the more hardcore the soundtrack gets, you’re delving deeper and deeper into hell. In that vain, the music is was made to be dark, evil, and sinister. It was made not to scare you, but to make the demons be fearful of you. What you’re hearing is not a warning for you, but for them. You are coming, and nothing will stop you. You can tell so much love went into the soundtrack of this game, with so many references and honorary call backs to the franchises previous titles. It never strays too fair away from what Doom is, and that is to make you feel like a tank. It’s honestly badass.
I love the original doom, and when originally drafting the idea of this piece, was my original choice for the best FPS game ever. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew that Doom (2016) was better in every single way. The gameplay, the story, the music, the dialogue. Everything about this game is not only a love letter to Doom’s history and legacy, but also FPS games in general. Without a doubt in my mind the greatest first-person shooter game of all time.