Best FPS Games Of All Time: Top 50 First-Person Shooters
If there's one genre that has undoubtedly ruled over video games for the past few decades, it's the first-person shooter (FPS). From its beginnings with Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM, 30 years ago, the FPS has evolved significantly thanks to landmark titles like Quake, Half-Life, Halo Combat Evolved, COD 4 Modern Warfare, and much, much more. Its domination has also been remarkably consistent, with the Call of Duty franchise reigning supreme in the AAA space for ten years, and recurring franchises such as Halo and Battlefield following behind.
Even in the realm of single-player experiences, the FPS has a permanent foothold thanks to series like Far Cry, Fallout, and DOOM. There's something incredibly immersive about the first-person perspective, allowing it to put you directly into the shoes of your character and connect to them. There's also the advantage of 3D spacial awareness and traversal, which comes intuitively enough thanks to us living in first-person.
Considering the FPS' constant presence in the gaming world, and as there are no signs of the genre slowing its domination, we thought we'd look back through gamings storied history and pick the best ever FPS games. There are plenty of old and new ones to choose from, and our list is a great display of how the genre has evolved and changes over the past 30 years.
Best FPS Games: Devil Daggers (#50)
If you're the type to chase the feeling of reaching a high score, and find satisfaction in incrementally improving with each run, then Devil Daggers is certainly one for you. Survival is the name of the game, as you fight as long as possible against increasingly more strange and demonic forces - by shooting daggers from your bloody fingers.
It apes classic 90s shooters technically, with low-res unfiltered textures and polygonal jitter, while also matching their raw speed and intensity. This makes the experience a test of your mechanical skill, especially movement, as any contact with an enemy will instantly end the run. Devil Dagger's frantic pace and limited space, gives it the feel of a bullet hell game with a perspective shift, and it's an addictive combination.
Best FPS Games: SWAT 4 (#49)
In the realm of single player tactical shooters, Irrational Game's SWAT 4 takes the cake, taking players on a gritty trip into the lives of Special Weapons and Tactics operators. It didn't quite for aim for simulation levels of realism, gamifying much of the experience, but it was for the overall betterment of the title.
There's a great variety to the operations you take part in, letting players deal with hostage situations, barricaded suspects, and high-risk suspects with warrants out. It emphasised playing a SWAT operator by the book, even in the tense multiplayer mode that let players compete as SWAT members or suspects. The slow pace was a welcome element too, which added to the feeling of inhabiting a SWAT operator.
Best FPS Games: The Operative: No One Lives Forever (#48)
It feels like there aren't enough big games that focus on being funny anymore, but the 1960s spy-themed romp, No One Lives Forever makes for a frequently inventive and hilarious experience. Immensely stylish and often irreverent, it presents a fully realised, satirical take on the clandestine operations of an omnipresent government agency.
The gameplay was surprisingly varied for the time, allowing for most missions to be solved in multiple ways, from clever use of your gadgets and stealth, to full on murder hobo simulation as you take everyone out. It also built on the statistic screen shown at the end of many classic shooters of the time, by adding medals and increasing various statistics for high ranks. Ultimately, No One Lives Forever is a convincing evocation of 1960s spy media, with a triple dose of levity thrown in for good measure.
Best FPS Games: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (#47)
PUBG arguably changed the industry overnight, sparking the AAA fascination with the Battle Royale genre and inspiring many games to echo its formula. You know the deal. One-hundred players are dropped onto an island in a free-for-all - alone or with a team - and asked to scavenge for supplies and weapons to kill other players.
Over time, everyone is forced into smaller areas and the fights become more tense as you can only imagine where other players are hiding. It may have been bettered by newcomers to the genre, but PUBG set the benchmark, and few games could replicate its emergent moments of tension and chaos.
Best FPS Games: The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (#46)
Good games based on film properties are few and far between, and great ones are even rarer, but in 2004, legendary FPS studio Starbreeze gifted us the greatest movie tie-in of all time with The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. Serving as a prequel to Pitch Black, it put us in the boots of Riddick as he becomes incarcerated in the galaxies most brutal and infamous prison.
Its stealth gameplay was a huge highlight, and the physical presence of Riddick was felt throughout, furthered by quality first-person animations. Between your escape attempts that mixed stealth and pulse-pounding action, there were moments to just explore, taking time to talk to inmates and plan your route to freedom.
Best FPS Games: Deathloop (#45)
As a AAA game, Deathloop is quite surprising, combining immersive sim and roguelite mechanics into one giant combat puzzle that slowly unravels over a playthrough. You play as Colt, who awakens on a beach with amnesia, before discovering he's trapped on an island and caught in a time loop caused by something called the AEON program.
The premise is rather simple, as you're tasked with killing all the AEON leaders in one day, by replaying the day over and over to learn their locations and the best method of eliminating them all in succession. For those who have played Dishonored, much of the gameplay feels similar, expect you're encouraged to fully utilise your arsenal and go loud. It's a great example of innovating and trying new things in the AAA space, and while it doesn't all pan out successfully, it still makes for an excellent FPS title.
Best FPS Games: Perfect Dark (#44)
During Rare's golden age, they put out some major classics, but one of their best cult titles is Perfect Dark. It was a spiritual successor to Goldeneye 007, featuring much of the same gameplay but expanded with more experience and a new engine. Turns out Perfect Dark is also kind of a spy game, except set in a sci-fi near-future, featuring a female protagonist, and aliens.
For a console FPS at the time, it was pretty much unrivalled, with extensive features such as multiplayer and a co-op mode. The artificial intelligence was also highly notable, which made it a fairly challenging experience that forced players to utilise all their gadgets and the levels to their full capacity. With a new title on the way from Xbox, we can only hope it lives up to the pedigree of the first.
Best FPS Games: F.E.A.R (#43)
The combination of survival horror gameplay and kinetic, cinema inspired first-person gunplay is a curious one, but F.E.A.R combines them effortlessly for a both strikingly scary and bombastic shooting experience. You take up the role as the point man for a fictional special forces squad, as you attempt to capture the rogue commander of an experimental clone army.
F.E.A.R is highly regarded for its advanced AI system - that to this day is still rarely bettered - as it allowed the enemy soldiers to communicate and strategise to take out the protagonist. This meant they could interact with the environment by vaulting walls and making impromptu cover, or flank and lay down suppressing fire while advancing. The integration of psychological J-horror also meant you never had much room to breathe, as even between fights, you would struggle with paranormal visions.
Best FPS Games: ULTRAKILL (#42)
Maybe it's cheating to put a game in early access on this list, but ULTRAKILL in its current form is already one of the most inventive and stylish FPS games of all time. It combines the fast-paced movement and crazy weaponry of boomer shooters, with the combat scenarios, style metre, and challenge of a character action game. The gameplay has the potential to be as wild as it sounds, but there is a steep difficulty curve in the way.
You'll need to be attentive to stay mobile and keep your aim focused throughout - especially in the boss fights. These can get intense, and will test your every ability, from parrying, to hot-swapping and dashing. The story about a machine descending through layers of hell also allows for some great aesthetics, making for some bold and varied levels.
Best FPS Games: Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (#41)
Return to Castle Wolfenstein comes in two forms, the single-player, which was an above average attempt at rebooting the franchise, and the multiplayer - titled Wolfenstein: Enemy territory - which took mid-2000s PC gaming by storm. It blended objective-based game modes, tasking players with attacking or defending set points based on their team.
There were also classes to choose from who specialised into certain roles, which made teamwork imperative to victory. It's important to note, it did this before Battlefield 1942 came on the scene, but with a bigger focus on the intensity of arcade shooting gameplay.
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Best FPS Games: ARMA 3 (#40)
ARMA 3 is the premiere military simulation game, prioritising realism in its weapons handling, movement, and health mechanics, that makes for a cerebral tactical shooter. There are a multitude of ways to play ARMA, though it has a single-player campaign, the multiplayer and cooperative games modes are where it truly shines.
It's still holding out after several years with a strong and dedicated community, receiving constant updates and even official DLC developed by the community. For players who enjoy role playing servers, this is ARMA 3's bread and butter, with whole swathes of players dedicated to playing out military simulation fantasies.
Best FPS Games: Half-Life: Alyx (#39)
The only virtual reality game on this list, Half-Life: Alyx isn't just a top tier shooter, it's the best VR game available on the market, and the first killer app that displayed the platform's AAA potential. It follows fan-favourite NPC Alyx Vance, from Half-Life 2 - taking place between the previous entries - as Alyx aims to seize a superweapon held by the Combine.
Considering it took the series into previously uncharted waters with the VR technology, there were hurdles to work through, but they managed to retain the fun shooting and physics puzzles of the previous game, heightened by the new ways of interactivity that VR allowed. It also added elements of survival horror, which greatly heightened the atmosphere and tension of the experience. Sadly, it's not very easy to play considering the high entry cost of VR, but as prices lessen and the hardware becomes more accessible, it's certain to stay as a landmark title.
Best FPS Games: Black Mesa (#38)
Some people may wonder why we have put in Black Mesa over the original Half-Life - a title which has a fair shake at being considered the most influential FPS of all time - and it's because Black Mesa is simply the best way of playing it these days. Originally a mod that Valve allowed to become a full release, it is a full remake of Half-Life in the Source engine.
It modernises the game in a litany of ways, remaking the textures and improving the geometry of many levels, refining it to compliment Half-Life's narrative experience. It's a perfect remake in many ways, enhancing and building on the original, while also altering aspects that didn't quite work. Furthermore, it offers gamers a chance to experience one of the most formative titles in the FPS genre, but modernised.
Best FPS Games: BLACK (#37)
The FPS genre had been booming long before the release of BLACK, but surprisingly none had ever really focused on the guns themselves. They were typically extensions of the character you play, a tool to progress, but BLACK sought to make them the star of the show. It achieved these aims with a blinding spectacle of bullets, that's considered a cult classic and an influential title in immersive sound design.
BLACK drew inspiration from the heavily stylised action of cinema, giving the gunplay a viscerally physical feel. It added to this with a large focus on the sound quality of the weaponry, creating a choral harmony of bangs, blams, and pows, and detailed in-game destruction full to supplement the violence. Ultimately, it's a simple game, but makes for one of the rawest shooters available.
Best FPS Games: Timesplitters 2 (#36)
TimeSplitters 2 wears its GoldenEye 007 inspiration on its sleeve: similar aesthetics and graphical styles, some developers worked on both games, heck, both titles even start on Siberian dams. While GoldenEye 007 doesn't quite play as well today thanks to the clunky controls, TimeSplitters 2 felt like a spiritual sequel or spin-off that improved upon pretty much everything GoldenEye laid down.
As you can see from the screenshot above however, TimeSplitters 2 gets certifiably ridiculous. You'll go from 1930s Chicago to 300 years in the future fighting aliens, then back in time again to fight zombies. One of the most interesting things about this game however is the aiming mechanic; when you aim down the sights, you can control the crosshair with the analog stick individually. It makes for tricky aiming, but when you get the hang of it, it feels incredibly satisfying.
Best FPS Games: System Shock 2 (#35)
Very few games have ever blended the role-playing and horror genres together as well as System Shock 2. Taking the role as a lone survivor on a spaceship, you'll roam the halls and explore the aftermath of the events that saw parasitic mutants take hold of the crew. Oh and you're also being manipulated and haunted by an omniscient A.I. called Shodan, who still remains one of the most horrifying inventions in video gaming.
It allows for a solid variety of gameplay, which is reinforced from the very start as you choose a class, and continuously throughout, from upgrading your character and playing your way.
Best FPS Games: Crysis (#34)
For years, buying a new PC and bragging about its capabilities would get you the uniform response of "ahhh, but can it run Crysis?" And for good reason, no PC at the time of its release could run the game at its max settings, and to this day even the best modern computers will struggle. It pushed the graphical potential for video games forward, and gave us a hint at the future of photorealism in the medium.
Of course, it's also a pretty good FPS. It put you in the shoes of Nomad- a US super-soldier with a super-suit and super abilities - and tasked you with exploring an almost paradisal island home to North Korean troops and extra-terrestrials. The games' super suit is where the real fun comes from, letting you turn invisible, gain super speed, temporary invulnerability, and super strength, which can be combined to great effect to tear through the enemies.
Best FPS Games: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (#33)
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R series blends many genres together, forming a FPS survival horror RPG with some of the most involving atmospheres in gaming. It's set in an alternate reality, where a second disaster at Chernobyl caused the fallout to create strange anomalies and happenings around the nearby exlusion zone. Throw in a dose of depressing Russian sci-fi like Roadside Picnic and Stalker, and you get the cauldron for a S.T.A.L.K.E.R title.
There's a grand sense of open-endedness to Shadow of Chernobyl, with a non-linear story and lots of optional content to interact with, creating reams of depth to the gameplay. This unrivalled gameplay has created legions of fans, and a tight modding community across the whole franchise. With a new game on the way next year, it sure is an exciting time for hardcore S.T.A.L.K.E.R fans.
Best FPS Games: Metroid Prime (#32)
Nintendo may refer to Metroid Prime as a first-person adventure over a shooter, but you do more than enough first-person shooting to make this list. Like the original Metroid games, it follows the metroidvania formula where you explore a map, collecting various upgrades that allow access to new areas and contextualise previous ones. Along the way, you'll battle smaller enemies, to larger bosses in over-the-top showdowns that can sometimes rival spectacle fighters.
It also retains the puzzle gameplay elements of the series, frequently balancing the heavily visual action with the slower moments, so that the player is never worn out or bored with doing the same thing. Accompanying this gameplay structure is the intensely moody atmosphere, punctuated by the score that features motifs of the older games soundtracks. Prime was a monumental occasion in reinventing the Metroid series, expertly blending a new perspective with the tight metroidvania design.
Best FPS Games: Medal of Honor (#31)
The Second World War has been a highly regurgitated setting in video games, with the globe-spanning conflict home to many fronts of warfare and battles that make for easily replicable spectacle. 1999s Medal of Honor was by no means the first WWII game, but it was the one that made the setting popular, and effectively captured the tension on-screen.
It was renown at the time for its immersive gameplay and varied missions, where players could rescue an American pilot behind enemy lines, go undercover to destroy a U-boat, recover stolen artwork, and generally sabotage the Nazis. There was also the excellent soundtrack that complimented each scenario, whether they were epic battles or the more covert expeditions.
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Best FPS Games: Metro Exodus (#30)
Bigger being better has been disproven plenty of times, but Metro Exodus is a perfect example of a game that evolved by its decision to forgo the consistent linearity of the previous games in the series. Set in post-apocalyptic Russia over one year, Exodus sees protagonist Artyom, his friends, and family set out on an odyssey to find home in a scorched world.
Its immersive qualities are unparalleled due to the developer's choice to make many of the UI and HUD elements diegetic, furthered by playing on the ranger difficulty, which turns it into a tense survival experience. The beautifully realised locations are also well worth exploring every inch of, from the rustic Volga, to the sparse dried-up Caspian Sea.
Best FPS Games: Battlefield 1942 (#29)
Before Battlefield, the idea of large-scale multiplayer warfare in gaming seemed far-fetched. The majority of shooters focused on the small-scale, especially in the prevailing arena shooters of the time. But DICE set out to innovate with huge chaotic battles - that while arcade-like in nature - aimed to ape the real conflicts of WWII, allowing players to fight across the Pacific and European fronts.
It gave players set roles they could specialise into, like the Scout, Medic, or Engineer for example, which equipped them with specific weapons and equipment to perform tasks. Scouts could spot enemies and use snipers, Medics could revive and heal, and Engineers could repair vehicles, just to name a few. Battlefield was all-out warfare, with large groups of players, a plethora of vehicles, and sprawling maps to fight across.
Best FPS Games: SUPERHOT (#28)
While the first-person shooter is fun in its own right, recent years have seen the genre grow all too comfortable with its own niches and ideas. It's not often that the genre sees any sincere innovation - which is why the arrival of SUPERHOT was such a delight. The game's brilliant concept helped to make such a simple idea into a tool to make shooters into puzzlers, with every step you take and every shot you make creating a real risk of failure.
SUPERHOT's simplicity in both concept and presentation allows you to focus entirely on the brilliant puzzling action with a focus on hyperviolence that pays off with hugely sped-up killcams, that make you feel just about as badass as they do clever. It's clear that visuals and realism can only take a game so far, and with SUPERHOT, it's clear that even in first-person shooters, brains are more important that brawn could ever be.
Best FPS Games: Duke Nukem 3D (#27)
Duke Nukem 3D was another 90s title that helped to popularise the FPS genre early on. It took inspiration from much of what made DOOM great but carved out its own style, punctuated by the adult humour of the titular character and the dark, seedy world you explore throughout the levels. It also took environmental interactivity much further than DOOM, utilising the brand-new Build engine, which was top tier at the time.
Duke primarily acts as a satirical take on Hollywood action heroes, obsessed with his 'babes' and dedicated to regurgitating cheesy one-liners when the moment calls for it. It's fair to point out that the games' representation of women hasn't exactly held up over time, but overall it still stands near the peak of 90s shooters.
Best FPS Games: Destiny 2 (#26)
The original Destiny was a highly ambitious online looter shooter that didn't quite reach the heights that were expected of a developer like Bungie. However, they seemed to turn it around for the sequel, focusing in more on the story, and improving on the exploration and combat aspects.
Set in a science-fantasy future, you take the role of a Guardian who are the last bastions of hope for protecting humanity from the threat of alien species. Whether alone, with groups of friends, or random players during encounters, there are many ways to play and things to do in Destiny 2. It's also ever-evolving, with new expansions and content being released regularly.
Best FPS Games: Team Fortress 2 (#25)
Continuing Valve's tradition of innovating in every space they enter, Team Fortress 2 ended up designing the blueprint for the hero shooter genre. Its creative character classes stood out for their differing personalities, distinct looks, and unique playstyles - creating the bedrock for an outrageously fun shooter. Plus the advent of new weapons and items, further expanded on the ways for gamers to play.
It never took itself too seriously either, with comedic death animations, a cartoon graphics style, and hilarious voice lines. Team Fortress 2 rarely got too intense and while there were a few bad apples, you could always rely on a fun time when compared to shooters like Counter-Strike or Call of Duty. We've not seen anything quite like Team Fortress 2 since.
Best FPS Games: Wolfenstein: The New Order (#24)
While it didn't go as far as DOOM in recreating the mechanics of retro shooters, 2014's Wolfenstein reboot was a breadth of fresh air that managed to brilliantly ride the line of contemporary and classic game design. It felt like a shooter rejuvenated, with a stunning variation in combat set-pieces, and an over-the-top sensibility that somehow meshed perfectly with the gritty narrative.
The characters were also rich in personality, shaped by the traumas of Nazi rule and its communicated well throughout the story, contrasting the bloodthirsty action. This is best shown in protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz, who looks and plays like a classic action hero, but monologues poetically about his inner feelings - developing a profound relatability for a Nazi killing simulator.
Best FPS Games: Borderlands 2 (#23)
Crazy, stupid, and larger-than-life are the only appropriate ways of describing the Borderlands series, and Borderlands 2 is perhaps the game that perfected the tone and wild gameplay. It's a looter shooter/RPG hybrid where you play as vault hunters on the lawless planet of Pandora. Throughout, you'll fight a rogue's gallery of insane monsters, robots and psychos, while collecting increasingly out-there guns.
The antagonist, Handsome Jack, also made for one of the best villains of the past decade, as a power-hungry megalomaniac seeking to tyrannically rule Pandora. Borderlands 2's often juvenile and dirty humour is a constant aspect of the experience, reinforcing the silly tone of the world and the characters. While it may drag the experience to some, we think as part of the game's core identity, it ties all of Borderlands' curated insanity together, to make one of the best co-op shooters of all time.
Best FPS Games: Fallout 4 (#22)
It's safe to say Fallout 4 didn't quite have the reception Bethesda was hoping for on release, because it stripped away a lot of the RPG elements that made the series popular. It wasn't all doom and gloom for the game however, because one area it improved on massively was the combat. While V.A.T.S remained a staple of the Fallout universe, real-time combat was actually possible and with such a wide world to explore, no two fights were ever the same.
Guns felt weighty and each one was unique, ranging from your standard rifles to outrageous weaponry like the Fat Man. From huge, alpha deathclaws to raiders and mirelurks, every battle required a different strategy, especially given the varied terrain across the Commonwealth. Sure, Fallout 4 doesn't excel when it comes to being an RPG and is unlikely to be the favourite game in the series for many, but it is certainly an outstanding FPS game.
Best FPS Games: Goldeneye 007 (#21)
Consider us shaken (and stirred) by the legacy of Rare’s GoldenEye 007, and what is one of THE defining first-person shooters. With the James Bond series facing a revamp on the silver screen in 1995, GoldenEye 007 capitalised on the success of Pierce Brosnan’s martini-swilling spy just two years later.
Not just capturing the aesthetic of the blockbusting movie, GoldenEye 007 broke the wheel of the FPS genre - and proved its viability for home consoles. The N64 had too many great games to count, with GoldenEye sitting alongside Ocarina and Mario 64. Much more than just sitting in its own league, GoldenEye’s success led to Rare’s Perfect Dark (which is due to return as an Xbox exclusive).
While we’ve had a remake on the Wii U, Microsoft’s plans for an Xbox 360 revamp fell through. Still, barely a year goes by that Nintendo, Microsoft, or even both aren’t rumoured to be working on a revival. Mr. Bond, we’ve been expecting you.
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Best FPS Games: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (#20)
While the single-player component of Black Ops 2 was nothing to write home about, the multiplayer is where this game truly shone. To this day, Black Ops 2 is widely considered to be the pinnacle of Call of Duty esports, with numerous pro players looking back fondly at the iconic maps, balanced weapons, and fast-paced yet still strategic gameplay.
Whether it's the M8A1 assault rifle holding down an anchor position on the map or the MP7 shredding through enemies in close quarters, Treyarch were onto a winning formula with Black Ops 2. Titles like Modern Warfare may have paved the way for Call of Duty, but esports found its king in 2012.
Best FPS Games: Unreal Tournament (#19)
The extreme pace of many 90s shooters caused many to wonder how it would translate to a multiplayer setting, which earlier Quakes took advantage of. However, it was Unreal Tournament that really popularised the arena shooter and displayed its potential. It retained the speed and fury of its single player inspirations, but the fiercely competitive nature of the multiplayer turned it into an even more frantic sh*t show.
The level design was outstanding due to the variation of environments and geometry, the weapons were punchy and satisfying to use, and the number of modes added reams of depth and replayability. It went on to spawn in iconic series of arena shooters, and kicked off a zeitgeist that ruled the PC multiplayer FPS scene of the early noughties.
Best FPS Games: VALORANT (#18)
Counterstrike pioneered the tactical shooter, but VALORANT provided a different dynamic to it, blending the heavily mechanical gameplay with hero shooter design, with characters called agent. It plays very similar to CS, with an attacking side attempting to plant a bomb at set sites, as defenders try to stop them.
The hero design adds a lot to the game's meta, allowing for numerous combinations of character abilities. This also makes for a quicker pace than most tactical shooters, as activation for many abilities is snappy, and they're all relatively simple to follow. Consequently, VALORANT has a pronounced style to it, both in gameplay and graphics, and it will always have you coming back for more.
Best FPS Games: Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege (#17)
After a few years of a stagnating Rainbow Six franchise, Ubisoft reignited with the surprise hit of Siege. It's a multiplayer tactical shooter that plays with all the militarised mechanics of previous Rainbow Six titles, like repelling down walls and breaching doors thoughtfully. However, it's mixed with some hero shooter elements, creating a cast of operatives to choose from worldwide special forces.
It's a deeply intelligent title, and the room for strategy is enormous, creating a playground for cerebral warfare. The 'games as a service model also managed to keep it fresh, rotating in new ideas and content with the new seasons. Siege is directly true to its name, creating the perfect situations for rewarding tactical gameplay in literal siege scenarios, that really tests your physical and metal reaction time.
Best FPS Games: Half-Life 2 (#16)
The Half-Life series may be the only franchise in gaming where each title was revolutionary to the industry in some form. Despite the haunting prospect of following up the original game, Half-Life 2 delivered a deeply immersive dystopian sci-fi experience, once again putting us in the shoes of Gordon Freeman to seemingly take on the world.
One of the most notable aspects of Half-Life 2 was the Source engine. At the time, it had an unrivalled level of interactivity due to its robust physics systems that played heavily into the combat and puzzle gameplay. On top of that, no game looked as good as Half-Life 2, with incredibly detailed character models and faces, that allowed us to connect to the NPCs we encountered throughout the unbroken narrative.
Best FPS Games: Left 4 Dead 2 (#15)
Zombies and video games go together like peanut butter and jam, and there are few things as satisfying as mowing down hordes of the undead with guns and melee weapons. This is the Left 4 Dead series bread and butter, and Left 4 Dead 2 is undoubtedly the best, especially considering you can just play all the first game's campaigns in the sequel.
It's about as simple a zombie game you can have, as you and your three AI companions (or friends, we recommend friends) fight your way through American locales to escape the hordes. There are even the special infected, who all have functions designed to separate the group and pick off stragglers. With tonnes of replayability, a hilarious and dedicated modding scene, and the multiplayer modes that make for a whole different way of play, Left 4 Dead 2 still shows its quality to this day.
Best FPS Games: Far Cry 3 (#14)
The title that launched the Far Cry franchise into the mainstream, Far Cry 3 has become one of Ubisoft's most formative titles, and for good reason. It defined the open-world and content structure that the franchise has followed since, along with literally every other Ubisoft game - but that's for another time.
It gave players great freedom to explore the Rook Islands as protagonist Jason, who is captured by pirates along with his friends during a holiday gone wrong. The primary antagonist you'll encounter is the twisted Vaas, who hunts Jason throughout, and gives one of the most chilling monologues in video game history. It was a breath of fresh air for the time, and the dynamic open-world added a lot to the experience.
Best FPS Games: Halo Reach (#13)
For some people, Halo Reach signalled the beginning of Halo's dark age, and while there is some truth to that considering the titles that followed, Reach is still one of the best entries. Firstly, it humanised the conflict a little, providing a prequel story before Master Chief's saga that saw the final defence of the key planet Reach in the Human-Covenant War, along with how the inhabitants responded.
It also contained an addictive multiplayer and the most robust Forge mode Halo had seen at the time. With a wide array of multiplayer modes to select, there was so to take part in, and the potential of custom matches made for some legendary community creations like Duck Hunt. To top it off, the comprehensive armour customisation allowed you to field a Spartan that looked like no other.
Best FPS Games: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (#12)
For better or worse, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the most influential shooters of all time, and brought in an influx of modern military shooters trying to capture the zeitgeist that it initiated. Its story was highly notable, immersing players in a contemporary conflict centred around the constant tension in the Middle East and the rise of ultra-nationalism.
The most celebrated aspect is the game's multiplayer, which managed to enrapture an entire generation, and set the formula for which the series would follow over the next decade. The arcade shooting mechanics were tightly designed, complemented by some of the best map design the series has seen. We'd be remiss without mentioning the addictive feedback mechanics, such as the flash of XP you'd gain from kills and the music that appears when levelling up. From its varied and memorable campaign, to the bombastic multiplayer, COD 4 is a marvel of contemporary game design, and set a high benchmark that others are still trying to reach years later.
Best FPS Games: DOOM (#11)
The original, king of the FPS, the grand-daddy of them all. DOOM can claim many titles, and even 30 years on, it's still an easy contender for the most influential FPS (if not game) of all time. You take on the role of Doomguy, a space marine caught in the middle of a demonic invasion on Mars, who must fight his way out of the horror.
It doesn't have much of a narrative structure, delivering little snippets of text before each of the three episodes. What DOOM did though, was define the gameplay of the burgeoning FPS genre at the time, inspiring a whole plethora of DOOM clones we now know as boomer shooters. Its enduring popularity and high regard has seen it ported dozens of times, and it still remains as a constant in the wider gaming discourse to this day.
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Best FPS Games: Battlefield Bad Company 2 (#10)
Battlefield Bad Company 2 featured the trademark large-scale battles the series is known for, but refined the formula into the best entry yet. It had an unprecedented level of detail and heavily destructible environments, that added to the dizzying bedlam of the multiplayer. DICE also took inspiration from the progression systems of contemporary multiplayer shooters, adding unlocks for the classes that allowed them to specialise even more.
It featured a single-player campaign, which overall was nothing to write home about but featured likeable characters with great banter that personalised them. Bad Company 2 is still one of the highest regarded entries, and was a signifier of the future potential of multiplayer gaming.
Best FPS Games: Overwatch (#9)
Despite a now-flagging fanbase and being inexorably tethered to grim actions that have taken place behind the curtains at Activision Blizzard, Overwatch still stands as the prime example of how a hero shooter should play. It took some balancing, but the final product of laborious re-balancing is a chipper and riveting team game that's packed to the brim with characters that each have their own playstyles, characteristics and ways to storm the objective.
There's something in Overwatch for everyone, and with such a diverse roster of characters, it's immensely satisfying to find your main and collapse into the infectious gameplay loop. It might have dropped off, but the simple playfulness of matches tied with the game's inherent competitive intensity made it absolutely electric to play, and even more exciting to master.
Best FPS Games: Halo 3 (#8)
Ah, Master Chief. While Halo Infinite seems to have commenced a return to form, nothing quite beats the days of Halo 3. An iconic campaign that sees our green suited hero fight back against enemies like Grunts, Brutes, the parasitic Flood, Elites, and more. It's one of the best human vs aliens video games of all time, with numerous memorable levels and missions, and somehow manages to make players feel and care for a character with just an orange visor for a face.
When it comes to the multiplayer, something about the Halo 3 formula just worked. Maps were symmetrical and balanced, the time-to-kill was high enough that camping was never a problem and you always stood a chance of winning the fight even if you were shot in the back. Power weapons added another dynamic unlike anything in other multiplayer shooters at the time, and there were plenty of modes available. Forge was the cherry on top, allowing players to create their own maps and modes to play with friends and share with the community. Ah, the memories.
Best FPS Games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (#7)
The first Modern Warfare may have set the bar at a ridiculous height for the Call of Duty franchise with its iconic single player campaign and game-changing multiplayer mechanics, but Modern Warfare 2 took everything one step further. While the campaign didn't have quite as many memorable missions, No Russian absolutely rivalled All Ghillied Up for one of the most tense experiences in a Call of Duty campaign to date.
On the multiplayer side of things, the balancing wasn't quite right with weapons like the UMP-45 and ACR running rampant, not to mention "One Man Army noob tubes", but the enjoyment factor was off the scale. The fluidity of gameplay and how crisp it felt connecting shots made for the one multiplayer shooter everyone looks back on incredibly fondly.
Best FPS Games: Bioshock (#6)
At this point, there's not much to say about Bioshock that hasn’t already been stated. It's not only one of the best FPS games, but one of the best games ever made, and one that demonstrated that video games are an art form to be taken seriously. Bioshock featured role-playing elements and some basic morality choices in the gameplay, along with a combination of weapons and unique powers for the combat.
The story is where Bioshock really shines though, both deconstructing the role of the player in video game stories, and critiquing the idea of Objectivism. It revelled in the dystopian and utopian philosophies of the 20th centuries most outspoken thinkers, contrasting various ideas that informed the setting of Rapture and the character of Andrew Ryan. Bioshock had ambitious narrative aims, and frankly delivered with one of the best stories to grace video games.
Best FPS Games: Apex Legends (#5)
After the huge success of the battle royale genre due to PUBG, it seemed like every developer was trying to get in on the action. There were some honestly good attempts, but Apex Legends has perhaps cemented itself as the best FPS battle royale. After a stealthy three-year development cycle, the game shadow dropped out of nowhere in early 2019.
It changed up the BR formula slightly by letting players select individual characters with their own skills and abilities, called 'legends.' It also had fewer players in a game, with 20 teams of three, or 30 teams of two, which in tandem with the hero shooter formula, made it feel more squad-focused. To top it off, the varied but tight map design adds a lot to the game, with it focused around characters skill and verticality.
Best FPS Games: DOOM (2016) (#4)
There was a lot of apprehension upon the announcement of DOOM (2016). At the time, the idea of successfully recreating what made the original special seemed impossible, but they did it, the mad men actually did it. Acting as a sort of reboot/remake, DOOM (2016) put you in the shoes of a more seasoned Doomguy, who had previously rampaged through the hordes of hell, ripping and tearing until they had to drop a damn cathedral on top of him and imprison him.
Fast-forward and Doomguy awakens on Mars again, with that familiar premise of a demonic invasion hanging over his head. They refined the gameplay for this entry, drawing from 30 years of game evolution, while still harkening back to the spirit of the original. It featured a pulse-pounding soundtrack from Mick Gordon that spurred the action forward, and intense combat supplemented by a cast of weapons, speed, and innovative mechanics like the glory kill system. It's undoubtedly one of the best reboots of all time, and helped launch the renaissance of boomer shooters.
Best FPS Games: Quake (#3)
The peak of the 90s shooter no doubt came with Quake. As the successor to DOOM, it built on the frenetic action with more speed, intensity, and utter mayhem, supplementing it with full 3D rendering to bring the amalgamation of sci-fi, Gothic medieval, and Lovecraftian aesthetics to life. The eclectic mash-up of styles worked wonders, giving it a pronounced look, and it stood as an example of excellent art design even with a limited colour palette to work from.
The impeccably sinister soundtrack from Trent Reznor also bolstered the experience tenfold, creating industrial soundscapes and a constant whirling ambience that built on the uneasiness. All these elements sought to heighten the tight shooting and movement, which contained a previously unseen fluidity and momentum. All in all, it's a hallmark of boomer shooter design, that's been echoed for generations of gaming.
Best FPS Games: Titanfall 2 (#2)
If this was a list of the best FPS single player games, Titanfall 2 would run away with the crown. An impeccable narrative and missions that blow the mind of anyone playing through it for the first time, nary a bad word can be said about this incredible successor to a series that wasn't afraid to push the boat out and try new things. If you've never played Titanfall 2 before and you like first-person shooters, you must immediately give it a go after reading this list. Especially the Effect and Cause level.
The multiplayer wasn't half bad either, with myriad titans to choose from and clean, responsive shooting mechanics that so clearly took inspiration from Call of Duty. Which makes sense, since Titanfall 2 was developed by Respawn Entertainment, a company founded by ex-Infinity Ward developers, who created the Modern Warfare series. Titanfall 2 is so easy to pick up and play but it will take some serious grinding to become a master of one of the greatest ever first-person shooters, because that wallrunning is some serious business.
Best FPS Games: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (#1)
Counterstrike is without a doubt the greatest multiplayer tactical shooter series ever created. The core idea is simple, pitting two teams - Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists - against each other, with the Ts attempting to plant a bomb in various points on the map while the CTs stop them. As the latest entry, Counterstrike: Global Offensive has become an esport goliath, and the most concentrated entry, distilling the CS core into its most potent outing.
Despite the simple premise, the gameplay is full of depth, with tonnes of elements to master such as shooting, movement, economy, and equipment usage. Counterstrike is principally a test of your raw mechanical skill, with an extremely high skill ceiling to boot. It's also worth mentioning the legendary staying power of the maps, some of which have been mainstays in the competitive scene since CS 1.6, which is frankly down to their excellent design that allows the tactical battles to play out.
Now you've got to the end of our best FPS games list, why don't you check out this list of the best free PC games?