Additional words by Joel Snape
The FPS remains one of the most popular genres in modern gaming, compiling an abundance of global blockbusters and ambitious new groundbreakers, with new titles worth your time coming each and every day with a selection of weaponry, gadgets and other shenanigans.
We’ve narrowed down some of the best and brightest in the FPS genre and put a list on here for some of our favourite all-time FPS experiences. There’s a lot on offer here, whether it’s slaying demons on Mars, blasting Nazis or getting your mech on. There’s plenty here, let us be your guide.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Battle Net)
- Smooth gunplay
- Excellent level design
- The story is woven through all three branches of multiplayer
- A great re-invention of a slightly stale franchise
- No solo campaign
Despite abandoning the solo campaign, Treyarch has managed to overcome fan worries and produce a spectacular shooter in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The disappointing third entry is now forgotten as Black Ops 4 delivers three distinct modes in the form of traditional multiplayer, Zombies and Blackout, all of which shine brightly in their own way.
By taking cues from the likes of Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch, multiplayer puts you in control of customisable specialists with their own range of skills and equipment. These all play differently and lead you to emphasize teamwork in a way Call of Duty hasn’t done before. Blackout is much the same, taking place across a sprawling map where you with a group of friends, or alone, aim to emerge victorious against 100 other players.
Zombies is also great, feeling more accessible and engaging thanks to sharply written dialogue and three huge locations available at launch, or four if you splurge on the season pass. This is arguably the best Call of Duty since Advanced Warfare, added a much-needed tune-up to a stale franchise.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One PC
- Unremitting demon-slaughter action all the way
- Brilliant Glory Kill mechanics
- All your favourite Doom enemies and weapons
- Solid multiplayer and DIY SnapMap modes
- Repetitive level design
- Semi-useless map
How do you reboot the most influential shooter of all time without upsetting anyone? Turns out it’s simple, if not easy: you hit your USPs – stoic, murderous main character, inventive monster design, and Big Flonkin’ Guns – with absolutely merciless precision, wrap it all in a flawless score from Wolfenstein’s Mick Gordon and unleash hell.
Fast-paced combat and open-plan levels make the solo mode a brutal, joyous romp, even if the multiplayer’s ever-so-slightly disappointing compared with the competition. Remember: in other games, you’re trying to survive. In Doom, the monsters are trying to survive you.
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Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
- Superb leash and skillshot mechanics
- High-octane action all the way
- Has never looked better
- Stupid, gruesome fun
- Humour can be dubious
- Duke Nukem DLC a waste of time
With its tongue-in-cheek, finger-constantly-on-the-trigger approach, Bulletstorm seemed to epitomise the most dumbass elements of the FPS genre back in 2011, disguising an elegantly-designed experience full of inventive gameplay elements and genuinely brilliant boss fights.
The smart ‘Skillshot’ system discourages anything as simple as shooting its feral adversaries in favour of decapitating them with grenade-bolas or kicking them into carnivorous plants, and even the plot’s surprisingly compelling. Regretting that you were one of the literally millions of players who didn’t buy it?
Don’t worry: 2017’s remastered edition adds a rejigged campaign mode and revamped graphics, making it the perfect way to play an underrated gem.
Far Cry 5
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Spectacular action in stunning scenery
- Four great villains, each with their own style
- More immersive and organic than previous Far Cries
- Brilliant specialists and animal allies
- Sometimes sticks too closely to old Far Cry templates
- Loses pace when the Seeds aren’t around
Get past its off-kilter politics – turns out, the doomsday-prepping gun-lovers are the good guys – and Far Cry 5 is a brilliant retooling for the series, tossing tired elements aside (watchtowers are switched out for prepper caches, for instance) and doubling down on the mayhem with a team mechanic that lets you recruit the perfect squad for your goals (Shotgun dude and helicopter? Stealth-lady and sniper? Ah, sod it, rocket-man and bear again).
The way you’re snatched from its sandbox world to do story missions is absolutely maddening and the post-endgame vibe is oddly unsatisfying, but once you’re done with the main game a never-ending array of user-submitted Arcade mode levels is the way to go. Oh, and you can throw shovels at people. Redemptive!
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Wolfenstein: The New Order
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
- Strong alt-history story
- Solid blasting
- Great upgrade system
- Weapons could be more creative
- Animations and character models are a little ropey
- Constant tone shifts
Some things never go out of style, and Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s central premise – shoot loads of Nazis, preferably with the most outlandish gun you can loot – is as compelling in 2020 as it was back in 1992.
This time, of course, it’s backed up with blockbuster-level set-pieces, exemplary shooter mechanics, and a genuinely engaging story, with its alternate-history backdrop providing some chilling examples of the consequences of fascism.
It’s not all moralizing, of course: blasting giant Panzerhunds with a triple-barrel shotgun or pinging a grunt’s helmet off with a perfect sniper shot would be seriously satisfying even if they weren’t on the Reich side of history…but since they are, it’s all the sweeter.For more of the same, you can play Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus which is also excellent, although its predecessor is just a little bit better.
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Rainbow Six Siege
- Deeply engrossing tactical shooter
- Teamwork is not only encouraged, but necessary
- Diverse and well-balanced cast of operators
- Consistent updates and additions
- Can seem impenetrable to newcomers
- Trolls can ruin matches with little penalty
Since its underwhelming launch, Ubisoft has transformed Rainbow Six Siege into one of the biggest shooters on the planet both in terms of players and its presence as competitive esport. Thanks to frequent seasonal updates, players are being treated to new maps, operators and content drops that expand the tactical meaning of everything Siege offers.
Unlocked with in-game currency or real world money, newcomers and veterans alike can jump into Rainbow Six Siege and find something that truly clicks with them. If you’re after a shooter that demands patience, tactics and teamwork you can’t get much better than this.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Fun and diverse cast of heroes
- Deep and engaging lore
- Addictive and endlessly rewarding to play
- Seasonal events are a regular treat
- Progression system relies on random cosmetics
- Bad team composition can be frustrating
It’s rare that a developer’s first foray into a crowded genre goes quite so right as Overwatch, a multiplayer hero shooter that encourages smart teamwork and creative gameplay via a variety of characters and classes.
It’s also a ray of cartoonish positivity in a genre that’s often mired in blood, mud and heavy metal, with costumes and character poses that foreshadowed Fortnite’s mega-success alongside the frequent introduction of new maps and events. Even casual players often log hundreds of hours, and it’s not hard to see why.
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Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Platforms: Xbox One
- Four classic games looking better than ever
- Play what you like, as you like it, the way you like it
- Multiplayer maps and modes from all four games
- Worth it just for Halo 2 and Halo 4
- You still won’t love the Flood
- Halo 3 looks and feels surprisingly dated
Halo is the most iconic property in Xbox history, with Master Chief’s battles against The Covenant having easily the stood the test of time with tight, responsive shooting and breathtaking setpieces. The Master Chief Collection brings all of these adventures together, and they’ve been updated to support 4K and HDR on Xbox One X.
They all still play beautifully, sporting updated visuals whether that’s through subtle tweaks or a complete remaster in the form of Anniversary treatments. The formula of sharp gunplay, encouraged exploration and an abundance vehicles combine to make something truly wonderful. Better, it gets even better over time, with the addition of O.D.S.T and even Halo Reach.
And who can forget multiplayer? Despite some teething problems, updates to The Master Chief Collection have made it easier than ever to find a match in any game or playlist of your choice. It isn’t perfect, but having everything in one place is great.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Great solo campaign
- Strong and addictive multiplayer
- Absolutely gorgeous
- Plenty of content
- Takes away your time
- Loot system could use some tweaks
After a shaky birth – the first Destiny came with a plethora of problems that were eventually fixed by downloadable expansions – Destiny 2 really delivered on the promise of the franchise from Halo-creators Bungie, with a campaign mode that’s really just an on-ramp for a looting, shooting romp packed with player-versus-environment set-pieces.
Depending on who you ask, Destiny 2’s reputation as an MMO is a little shaky, but it’s a top notch shooter, with Bungie taking the Halo combat magic that made them their name, and distilling it into here: whether it’s emptying a pistol mag into an approaching horde, tossing a last minute grenade to cover your escape or even slamming down to earth with a killer shockwave.
The six-man Raid dynamic is one of the high points, and while it can be a touch unwelcoming if you haven’t got friends to play with – the game really encourages it – it’s still a worthwhile experience.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
- Excellent weaponry
- Whip-smart AI that makes every firefight feel different.
- Spooks and shoots in equal measure
- Clever use of slow-mo
- The game is rather showing its age now
- Lots of grey corridors
F.E.A.R is one of the finest shooters ever made. Because of how quickly games age, the most recent, bombastic, entry in a series can be hailed as the best. F.E.A.R first released in 2005 and blew everyone away, but in the years since, it’s proven itself time and time again to be one of the best FPS games out there.
Corridor shooter is often thrown around as an insult in FPS circles, but F.E.A.R is made up near entirely of grim urban bustle, taking you from loading docks to offices, maintenance ducts to back-alleys. F.E.A.R is a corridor shooter through and through, but it turns it into an art form.
F.E.A.R is one of the best of the old guard. For my money, it’s better than Half-Life 2, or Far Cry 2 or any of the games from the last generation. All of these are classics, but if you were to ask which shooter from these was most worth playing now, it’d be this one. Sure, the graphics haven’t aged, but the AI is smart enough to give you a decent fight, the weaponry is fun and you’ll yelp with terror with each every appearance of ghostly little girl Alma.
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Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Impressive, inventive solo campaign
- Superb combat and movement mechanics
- BT is an ET for the Modern Warfare generation
- Excellent multiplayer improves on the original
- Some ideas shuffled away before their time
- Visuals are strong, but not the best you’ll see
The premise of the first Titanfall – in the future, warfare’s conducted by mecha-style exoskeletons and their agile, parkour-loving pilots – was pretty compelling, but it was really in this sequel, Titanfall 2, that it reached its full potential, with a creative single player campaign and frantic, tactical multiplayer matches.
Titanfall 2 shows a lot of the working out that went into Apex Legends, a battle royale game that attracted a lot of attention but didn’t quite hit the dizzying highs of this game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: Titanfall 2 is full of slick touches and well-realised concepts. When it shines, it feels like a shooter made by Nintendo, showing you wonderful concepts and then seeing them off before they get old. What other game would be bold enough to introduce a time-travel mechanic only to use it for a single level and then let it go?
Platforming elements mesh brilliantly with some excellent level design and innovative weapons to create a thinking man’s shooter that allows for plenty of freedom in the way you tackle different challenges. More into pulse knives than pistols? This one’s for you.