The best FPS games stick around. While other genres warp beyond recognition, there’s something so solid as the first-person shooter that makes it as dependable as a weighty AK-47 in the hands. I reckon it’s the simplicity of pulling the trigger and watching things fall down. And in the strongest of these games, there’s often great heft to what you’re shooting. To help you decide what shooter to get on next, we’ve put together a handy 25 strong list of FPS games you should try right now.
This was once a list of the best 50 FPS games, and while more is sometimes merrier, in this case we decided to trim it down to avoid bloat. With this in mind, everything on here has a playerbase, is good, and we’d recommend it right this second. Our old list didn’t have this punchiness, but now it does – which is great.
Of course, you may get to this bottom of this list and be like, “Hey, where is my favourite [insert FPS title here]? Huh?!”. This is totally valid, but please remember that we can’t include absolutely everything. We know there’s a bunch of gems out there, but alas, there is limited space in this exclusive inn.
The 25 Best FPS games on PC
Below you’ll find a list of the 25 best FPS games we think you should play, and what do you know? Here’s a handy list of links that’ll blast you to a specific game with the speed and precision of a 360 quick-scoper.
25. Boomerang X
It’s safe to say that I was blown away by Boomerang X. As I said in my Boomerang X preview, it’s the DOOM game I’ve always wanted and it may have ruined FPS games for me. Gun are overrated – boomerangs are the new hotness.
Boy does the boomerang feel good to fling, and you’ll quickly get access to a handful of superpowers that’ll only make the wooden spinner even more fun to use. Like the ability to teleport to it mid-air, or the ability to slow-time to a crawl as you line up that perfect shot. Combat is remarkably fluid and there’s barely any downtime. It’s fast, frenetic, and a whole heap of cool. String together a flawless succession of moves, and trust me, the feeling is unrivalled.
24. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 2 was excellent, but Far Cry 3 stripped out much that was awkward about the game – its grim setting, its protagonist’s malaria, its respawning enemies – for something that was less interesting but more purely fun, thrilling and silly. Far Cry 4 goes further still, stripping out the wrongheaded attempts at colonialist critique from Far Cry 3 and creating something that’s even more fun, even more silly. The Himalayan-inspired setting of Kyrat is a gorgeous location, and it’s even more eager to give you toys to play with than its predecessor. Liked the hang glider in Far Cry 3? This sequel gives you one almost immediately. Then it gives you a wingsuit. Also a gyrocopter. Also a physically-simulated rope for climbing cliff faces. Also you can ride elephants.
It is ridiculous, of course, but there’s still wonderfully smart design here, too, mainly in the return of outposts. These are enemy-controlled villages which you can take down separate from the main storyline, challenging yourself to outwit different kinds of AI enemy using the box of toys the game has provided. They’re always the best thing about Far Cry, and here they’re joined by Forts – bigger, harder versions of the same idea – and enhanced by the ability to team up with a co-op partner in the same open world for the first time. Want to use your grappling hook to hang from the bottom of a gyrocopter being piloted by a friend? Yes, you do.
This horror/action hybrid lost some of its lustre as a result of the series increasingly disappearing up its own plot-rectum, but it’s important to push J-horror tropes and everyone-is-related-to-everyone blather aside and look at what F.E.A.R. brought to the shooter table. So often, this genre is just about what a pair of hands do, but in F.E.A.R. so much more of your character’s body was involved. The reason we don’t see much first-person kicking is that it’s very hard to get it right, due to the innate preposterousness of a pair of legs appearing somewhere near your nose. F.E.A.R. got it right. Is such a physical-feeling game.
F.E.A.R. also pre-empted Mirror’s Edge by making the visible body related as much to movement as it was to combat. As a gun game, it was also an early proponent of the idea that any weapon can be equally deadly in the right circumstance, which is still a refreshing move on from the arms race of most shooters. Also, spooky little girl with hair over her face wooooooooooooooooo.
22. Left 4 Dead 2
Zombies: in 2008 they were still very exciting. They still are today when blessed with Valve’s magic touch, which in a few, brief, cyclic co-op skits adds more life, wit and hinted-at history to its characters and its world than most of the 8 hour+ singleplayer campaigns in this list stuck together. Including L4D2 in the list was complicated, however, given most of what makes it to strong was work done by the previous year’s Left 4 Dead. It’s a sequel not that different to the original, and not a game that I felt, on its first outing, really changed anything. However, it’s clear with time that Left 4 Dead 2 was a major under-the-hood upgrade, both closer to what was intended for the zombie-blasting horror game, and also a bigger move in the direction of pure co-op, which wasn’t something that even seemed possible before the let’s-all-die-together first Left 4 Dead came along.
Another strong reason to choose this over L4D1 (which still has a more memorable cast of Survivors, to my mind) is how much it’s been expanded by mods. You can stick Deadpool in there, expand it from a 4-player game to a 16-player one, turn everyone into a dinosaur or recreate pretty much the entirety of L4D1 within it. Get thee to the Steam workshop and indulge.
21. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Of everything 21st century in this list, The New Order puts the lie to nostalgia goon claims that shooters ain’t what they used to be. Pairing up pure pulp with surprising heart, then earning both by underpinning the sci-fi gloss and melodrama with super-solid, impressively flexible combat, this alterna-history Nazi-shooter is the complete blockbuster package. The latter-day follow-up to all-time granddaddy of first-person shooters even boasts a stealth option. It takes you to all sorts of wild places too. Some misfire, some are exactly what you’d want, and the result is a shooter which knows exactly what it’s doing, and while it’s too happily dunder-headed to earn the breathless adoration of a BioShock or Half-Life, as a single player action game it just doesn’t compromise.
20. Bioshock 2
Oh, it’s hard. So hard. People who say BioShock 1 is the best BioShock game are right. People who say BioShock 2 is the best BioShock game are right. (People who say BioShock: Infinite is the best BioShock game should be buried at sea immediately). But they’re both best for different reasons. BS1 has one of finest videogame openings of all time: the architecture, the mystery, the deftly immediate creation of an effective antagonist without his first having to attack you or yours, the introduction of the unquestionably iconic, darkly nuanced Big Daddy/Little Sister pairing, the sea-life, and at least two of the finest mid-game moments too – the eventual encounter with the aforementioned antagonist, and the horrifying art installation of Sander Cohen.
Sadly, so much of what’s around BS1 seems plodding in the face of BS2’s crunchier, more open and responsive combat in a decaying city beneath the sea. If what you’re looking for, first and foremost, is an action game, BS2 wins outright. What it lacks in big moments it makes up for with consistency.
19. Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl
When we think of open world games, especially shooters, we tend to think of wide-open spaces in which you can hare around attacking anything in sight. The maudlin, post-apocalyptic, bombast-free sci-fi shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. isn’t that. It’s so much more. It’s a world game. Its environments are more constrained, sometimes infuriatingly so (I’m still angry about the barbed wire in the first area) and progress is to some degree gated, but they are living and they are convincing. A world divided into factions and monsters and worse, deadly outdoor spaces and terrifying indoor spaces, dark life in a land of ruin, but a real land, that breathtaking modern-day Mary Celeste that is the abandoned Chernobyl and Pripyat area of the Ukraine.
Life left it suddenly, and new life has slowly moved into the ruins. Fearful life, the Stalkers who patrol it alone or in quiet groups, wandering through the thunder and the distant sound of unspeakable horrors. The sad mutants who scurry and slope through the wasteland, mad and afraid, as much a victim of this place as you are. Small signs of hesitant community, as wanderers gather and play songs around a campfire. You’re on a quest, yes, but you can choose when to engage, who to engage with, where sympathies lie, what your status and purpose in the Zone is. There are no rules in the Zone, really. It can grant your greatest wish. The wish to be somewhere else, being who you want to be.
18. Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2 is a semi-open world shooter (this time in a dirty and oppressive Africa rather than a paradise island) which actively robs you of power, rather than festoons you with it. The dark beauty of this FPS is the extent to which it places you in danger, creating a truly hostile world in which you are hamstrung and hated rather than a playground in which you are mollycoddled and lionised. It inverts conventional wisdom as part of an astute observation that it is more satisfying and meaningful to succeed in the face of great adversity than it is to grant you more and more toys until you just can’t help but be victorious.
It took several more years of power fantasies before I realised that. Far Cry 2 also seeks to embrace the truth of a world of guns: it’s nasty, it’s really about money, people do die, you are not a hero, and no-one’s coming to bail you out. Well, maybe the pal you met in that last hideout is…
17. SUPERHOT / SUPERHOT VR (2016)
There ain’t nothin’ new under the sun – a miserable claim that SUPERHOT Team disproved twice in one year. First there was SUPERHOT itself, a shooter in which time only moves when you move (or shoot) (or throw something) (or punch). Then there was SUPERHOT VR, which singlehandedly redeemed the whole concept of virtual reality and easily made it into our pick of the best VR games.
SUPERHOT is both maximum-adrenaline thrills and highly tactical – transforming the first-person shooter from a game about precision aiming and reflexive movement into one in which every twitch counted. The world is super-slow-mo until you do anything, which grants you the time to plan the move but leaves you subject to a devious puzzlebox construction in which one action leaves you vulnerable to some other threat. It is sublime, and it is impossibly cool.
Particularly in VR, where you are making those movements yourself – the ducking, the punching, the throwing, the shooting. The Matrix fantasy without any of the bilge – just superhot action. A glorious, glorious reinvention of first-person violence.
16. Borderlands 2
A brilliant looter-shooter to play with mates, is Borderlands 2. There’s a tonne of zany weapons to wield and plenty of skill-trees to sink points into. On that note, the classes aren’t only a lot of fun to play, but add replayability too. I particularly liked Gaige who summons a big robot who clunks enemies to death. She comes with the DLC, which I’ll get to in a sec.
The writing and humour won’t be for everyone in Borderlands 2, but the story motors along at pace and takes you to some interesting spots. It’s also lifted by Handsome Jack, whose brilliantly voice-acted and infuriating in equal measure.
Oh and I’d say Borderlands 2’s DLC is essential. If only for Tiny Tina’s Dungeons and Dragons themed one. It transports you to this unpredictable fantasy world and has you blasting wizards and skeletons with guns that fire swords.
15. Team Fortress 2
That Team Fortress 2 is a sequel and a remake of a sober-as-a-nun multiplayer mod seems almost irrelevant now. But it’s part of what makes the game so important. Valve took years and years to settle upon a model for what has become one of the firmly-entrenched favourites of the PC gaming fraternity, and that they did so allowed it to prove that a multiplayer first-person shooter can be funny, even witty, and that constant experimentation and progression can keep a game alive and evolving long after it should have ground to a halt.
Team Fortress 2 felt like an experiment, and it still feels like an experiment, and that experiment was a success. A move to free-to-play and a hat-centric economy has kept TF2 thriving. The cost of this is that something of the original spirit was perhaps lost in this translation to gimmee, gimmee, gimmee, but we can forgive that.
14. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
The tipping point between Call Of Duty as a World War II shooter for quiet PC gamers and what it is today, an increasingly sci-fi shooter for very noisy console gamers. Modern Warfare was one of the first post-Half-Life 2 shooters to be a true blockbuster. With its dramatically shifting locations, timelines and perspectives (admittedly much more commonplace today), it successfully destabilised the idea that shooters were about one man running through a bunch of tunnels until he killed the big nasty thing at the end. With some shock outcomes, it also introduced a new sense of mortality to our usually superhuman shooter protagonists.
While later CODs overplayed the role of NPC buddies and embraced a numbing cacophony, Modern Warfare managed to retain a sombre, fearful quality despite all the explosions and whatnot. It also set the standard for present-day shooter multiplayer, albeit without quite so much focus on unlockable gizmos.
13. Hunt: Showdown
Hunt: Showdown’s this mixture of PVP and PVP, underscored by serious tension. You take on the role of hunters with the express aim of assassinating an AI “boss” tucked away somewhere on the map. Trouble is, there are other squads also attempting to do the same thing. Die and you lose your equipment forever. Survive, and you’ll not only keep your stuff, but get some of the spoils too. That’s the tension for you – every single foray into the dark could spell disaster.
The audio design’s also sterling in Hunt: Showdown too, with gunshots that ring out from miles away, and the clang of chains could help you locate an enemy that’s stalking you nearby. Even swapping your weapon or reloading in quiet moments might give away your position. It’s an FPS that’s unlike anything out right now.
12. Amid Evil
Amid Evil’s a throwback FPS that’s best described as a DOOM-like, but make it fantasy. So instead of pistols and shotguns, you’ve got staffs that belch blue blobs and swords that sling arcs of mana. It’s also quite crafty with some of the usual FPS suspects that hinder fluidity nowadays. There’s no fall damage and you can breathe underwater without a worry. The focus is entirely on smashing skeletons with your spells, and I like that.
Wipe out enough enemies and you can turn on Soul Mode that’ll turn your weapon into a hose of pain. Enemies aren’t your usual aliens either, but often strange beings from astral planes. And I appreciate that the environments are dark and dingy like other throwback FPSes, but colourful and riddled with secrets.
11. Half-Life: Alyx
Alright, yes, you’ll need a VR headset for Half Life: Alyx, alongside a powerful enough rig to run it nicely. But, if you’ve got both of these things, then you’re in for a treat.
Graham said in his Half-Life: Alyx review that this is “the Half-Life game you’ve been waiting for, even if it’s not the one you were expecting”. And this is because the game’s been designed with VR in mind. You’re now able to reach out and touch City 17, and the motion control shooting “feels better than Half-Life’s combat ever has”.
And Half-Life: Alyx embraces horror too, with moments where you’re cowering in corners or chucking objects to distract enormous monsters. You’re even able to cover your mouth with your actual hand, and have it replicated in-game. It’s very much been lifted by VR, and not harmed by it.
10. Titanfall 2
This could have been the best singleplayer FPS of 2016, if it hadn’t been for the new Doom. Nonetheless, if you want straight-up action thrills with a whole lot of flash, some particularly glorious movement and impressively stressful mech-based boss fights, this is going to make you very happy. And hey, there’s a robust soldiers vs giant robo-suits multiplayer mode in there too, building on what the multiplayer-only Titanfall 1 already established.
That is, assuming you can find opponents. Titanfall 2 suffered from something of a failure to launch, having resolutely lost the marketing wars of late 2016. It may stay alive over time thanks to word of mouth, but even if it doesn’t, definitely check it out for that singleplayer campaign. It is, however, on the brief side, so we strongly recommend playing on Hard difficulty – as well as making it last longer, it makes the mech fights particularly feel that much more satisfying once you finally claim a steel scalp.
9. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo has some of the weightiest, most wonderful shooting out there. The story’s also not half bad, for those into John and his quest to stop aliens from doing nasty things. But it’s really the action and the moreish multiplayer that’ll keep you coming back.
And come back you shall. As the Master Chief Collection contains a whopping six Halo games: the HD remastered versions of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo: 2, alongside your usual editions of Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach and Halo: 4. No Halo: 5, should I add, although you can pick that up separately if you’d like.
The remasters of Halo 1 and 2 are faithful to the originals,and then you’ve got Reach and ODST which are just *chef kiss*. Matchmaking is also smooth, so you’ll have no trouble finding other players to tango with if you’re feeling competitive.
8. Destiny 2
Few shootybangs feel as fluid as this MMO bullet-hoser. There is a grace to Bungie shooters that have been around since Halo: Combat Evolved, and whatever that secret formula is, it’s here by the barrel. By the barrel of a big energy rifle, that is. Gotcha.
Since Destiny was only for console creepers, PC players will have to catch up on the story for this one. Short version: aliens are bad, shoot them. In many ways, we’ve benefitted from jumping in after Bungie refined things for the sequel. There are fewer spongey enemies, and a bit more humour and brightness to proceedings. The story itself is still a bit pants. But this is more about having a gorgeous, free-wheeling target range painted across the solar system than following any grand tale. You have special powers like the ability to swing a ludicrous sword around, or batter multi-limbed baddies with a big electrostomp. But most players will tell you the fun only starts with the multiplayer raids and dungeons, tough battlehells where teamwork and timing are as important as they are in any classical MMO.
7. Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege does what Battlefield games have thus far only pretended to do: provide a multiplayer world which is destructible at a granular level. Instead of buildings collapsing when scripted levers are pulled, in Siege almost every door, window, wall, ceiling, and floor can have a hole poked in it via gunshot, grenades, battering rams and breaching charges.
It feels like technical wizardry and the consequences ripple throughout the entire experience, creating tension from the ability to be attacked from any angle, encouraging teamwork through asymmetric missions which force one team to defend themselves against the other’s attempt to breach their compound, and forcing traditional Rainbow Six tactical awareness without a planning phase by requiring you to hold a perfect mental map of the building around you at all times.
It’s equally impressive for being a team-based multiplayer shooter that feels fresh, offering something different from the Counter-Strikes and Call of Dutys while staying true to the spirit of the Rainbow Six series.
6. Devil Daggers
2016 was in many ways a vintage year for first-person shooters, and the reason for that was because they understood their past. DOOM, obviously; Overwatch returned to Team Fortress rather than COD; Titanfall 2 was the big sci-fi silliness of the noughties again and Devil Daggers… well, Devil Daggers is from an alternate timeline where Quake changed everything and was never forgotten in favour of military men and careful plots.
A beautiful hellscape of big square pixels against a midnight backdrop, monstrous things looming at you from the darkness, and the dance, the endless dance. A pure test of everything that first-person shooters ever taught us. Reflex, awareness, movement, practice, true grit and no surrender. It is about your own time and only about your own time, because that is all that matters – everything else that shooters ever added is mere fluff.
5. Half Life 2
Of course. So much is in Half-Life 2, from an unprecedented level of architectural design to facial animation which rendered anything else obsolete overnight, to a physics system which transformed shooter environments from scenery into interactive resource, to some of gaming’s most striking baddies in the Striders and a huge step forwards in making AI companions believable and likeable.
It’s also a long, changeable journey through a beautifully, bleakly fleshed-out world, and although of course you are on the hero’s journey, it’s careful to keep you feeling like a bit player in a wider conflict. That this, plus the cliffhanger ending of Episode 2, left so much more to be told leaves PC gaming in a perpetual state of frustration that the series has, publicly at least, ground to a halt. I don’t think all of it is as striking as it once was – particularly, much of the man-shooting feels routine and slightly weightless now – but Half-Life 2 gave us more than any other first-person shooter before, and maybe even since.
4. Apex Legends
Oh my, Apex, what excellent bumslides you have. What solid shootsing you offer. What a delightful bunch of canyons and swamps you’ve plonked us in. We should have known better than to doubt the makers of Titanfall 2’s robot antics. Since its launch Apelegs has added plenty of new characters, new maps, and even a new Arenas mode.
It’s a solid murder hike every time you dive into Apex Legends, and there really is nothing that matches its pace in the Battle Royale realm.
There’s no elegant way to put this: Valorant is Counter: Strike but with wizards and ninjas. One team wants to plant a bomb, the other needs to stop this from happening. How? By inching around corners, having decent aim, and making strong callouts in the team chat. Patience is rewarded here, as is coordinating with your team to control each map.
If Valorant sounds like Counter: Strike, that’s because the gunplay is pretty similar. However, where it differs is in ability usage. You can choose from a roster of Agents who each have special powers that’ll let them do stuff like teleport across short gaps, flashbang around corners, or heal allies. If this sounds aggressively unbalanced, don’t worry, almost all of these abilities feel like useful tools, as opposed to pain-bringers.
I’d say I prefer Valorant to Counter: Strike nowadays, purely because it feels more current. There’s regular updates and some invaluable tools – like an aim training map – are baked into the game, as opposed to being buried away in a “community creations” section of a store.
2. Doom 2016
Yes: 2016’s do-over of the quintessential first-person shooter is a gory triumph in its own right. Classic weapons and a familiar bestiary help, as does it being so open about the fact we’re all here for bloodshed, but it’s the momentum system that makes it so damn good. Killing is movement is killing is movement: the more you kill, the faster you move, and this builds and builds in tandem with your learning how to play and how to survive.
A roomful of enemies that seems intense and unfair near the start of the game is like a country ramble compared to what comes later on – but rather than this being a simple matter of difficulty, it’s because DOOM trains you on the job, expertly and effortlessly. You don’t hit walls here. You punch right through them, cackling and grinning, having the time of your life. A completely unexpected, brilliant comeback. Doom still matters.
1. Call Of Duty: Warzone
Out of all the battle royale games I’ve played, Call Of Duty: Warzone is by the best paced. Little things, like the way you scoop up loot automatically, and the lack of having to worry about a backpack filled with attachments – it all adds up to make a shooter that doesn’t feel cumbersome. It cuts the faff of usual BRs, and lets you focus on the good stuff, which is its wicked gunplay and that oh-so-sweet hit marker sound.
Warzone’s loadouts – care packages which contain your own custom weapons – also add another dimension to proceedings. Not only does it give you something to chase during matches, there’s this desire to toy around with different weapon builds to create the perfect gun for you.
The truth is, though, that the meta is constantly evolving in Warzone, so you may never find it. But this is what makes it so engaging to play. Whenever I hop in, there’s always some event going on or new broken weapon, and Raven Software are doing an increasingly good job of making sure the game’s balance is just right.