Pointing and clicking with finesse is one of the most essential, satisfying inputs our lovely videogame computers provide, so it’s been our duty here at PC Gamer to surface and celebrate the best FPS games for decades now. We stand proud as the eternal stewards of mouse-aim.
But with the amount of new releases ballooning year after year, we’re gonna miss a few. We can’t expect the best of the best to rise up naturally over time, so let’s take a look back and pick out some of the most underrated shooters of the last five years. Let us know if we’re missing something!
Lovely Planet Arcade is a saucepan reduction of old horizontal-axis shooters like Doom, with tiny levels completely riddled with enemies and traps. Linger in the sightline of an enemy for a second and you’re done. With nothing but a slow waddle and shotgun, success comes from memorizing enemy placement and countering each with perfectly aimed and timed shots.
If it sounds tedious, it’s not. There’s an invisible rhythm to each bite-sized level, and as more rules are layered in—enemies that teleport you to their location once you shoot ’em, enemies that freeze time when you shoot ’em, and so on—Lovely Planet Arcade almost feels like playing the drums. But the drum is a shotgun and the song is adorable, cartoon death.
It’s a spaceship shooter, but House of the Dying Sun is not a simulation. It controls more like an FPS, favoring fast, brutal action over the usual drawn out dogfights. Battles are intense and punishing, even more so once you start actively switching between ships in your fleet. Think of it like first-person Homeworld, where you’re the one in the cockpit for every Kamikaze run. Bleak? Yeah, that’s the draw.
Andy Chalk described the tone perfectly back when: “Enemies who eject from their ships are not to be captured: They die. Ships filled with civilian workers in the employ of your enemies? They die. Examples must be made. You might call them war crimes; to the remnants of the Royal Guard, the near-fanatical military unit now under my command, they’re bonus objectives.”
LawBreakers | 2017
We’re all too late. We dug LawBreakers’ character-based spin on arena shooting, but it wasn’t enough. Our review calls LawBreakers “nimble, graceful, and original,” an arena shooter that integrates the high skill ceiling of movement and mouse-aim we love in classic shooters with class-based design that’s largely additive.
But this was 2017, when it felt like multiplayer shooters were in a holding pattern, the Overwatch overwatch impenetrable and unshakable. LawBreakers’ luck was about to get much worse too: PUBG would show up a couple months later, which generated enough noise and fervor to completely drown out interest in any new shooter that wasn’t a battle royale. LawBreakers struggled to find an audience and shut down completely in September of 2018. We can’t play it anymore, but we must state for the record: LawBreakers was good.
Rage 2 isn’t exactly an underdog here, and we stand by our review. But despite its repetitive nature and awful story, Rage 2 is a great popcorn shooter. Where it lacks narrative nuance and tactical complexity, it delivers on every angle in lizard-brained visual and auditory satisfaction.
It’s not a very challenging game, but one with all eyes on making huge, spectacular messes of its arenas. The Grav-Dart Launcher tosses enemies and physics objects around on detonation, the lock-on missile launcher peppers the field with volleys of fire and shrapnel, the armor-piercing Hyper-Cannon instantaneously converts meat to liquid. Pair it all with ground pounds, dashes, slow-mo flourishes, powerful melee attacks, and monster trucks with machine guns, and you’ve got a nice chaos engine on your hands. It’s stupid, pure, expressive FPS joy.
Green Army Men began as a free, community-created Christmas event for Tripwire’s 64-player wargame. Re-released as a fuller, modder-made DLC, it reskins and rescales the shooter into de_rats-style giant maps: a backyard, a festive living room floor, a pool party. Set up an LMG on the banister and for the love of god, defend the Christmas tree, private.
The toy soldier theme defuses some of Rising Storm’s seriousness (it’s dead-simple to spot bright green or blue plastic enemies), but the mechanics of shooting, vaulting, and the gritty, attritional gunfights remain intact. There’s nothing like leading a charge up a Lincoln Log ramp, only to get strafed by a plastic attack helicopter, laughing it off, and respawning under the couch.
The Hunt is an excellent FPS horror anthology featuring seven small games from developers we hope to still know a decade from now. Each has a fascinating hook that frames videogame horror in surprising ways. The Fruit’s slow, realistic reload system makes a single, shambling enemy a much more imposing threat. Rose of Meat plays with ragdoll systems and amorphous videogame geometry to make a surreal, upsetting survival snapshot. Uktena 64 uses the guise of an old hunting game to sneak in some wild body horror. Every game is a treat, The Hunt a sampler of just how much space in FPS design remains unexplored. It’s a spooky ship, but we’re fully onboard now.
The 7dfps game jam gave us Superhot, and last year brought us another gift: Anger Foot, a tubthumping speedrun of kicking in doors that fly off their handles to brutalize the faces of alligators with baseball bats. The music, which kicks as hard as your furious foot, gets muffled as you approach the next door only to bang again as soon as you knock it down and charge in. It’s great?
Every kick is fatal, whether you punt a TV into the face of a bird in a hoodie or put the boot into them directly. When they drop guns you can pick them up, but there’s no reload button. Once you run out of bullets you hurl that gun at the next enemy and get back to kicking, which is what it’s all about.
For our money, hidden gem FPSes don’t get better or more interesting than last year’s Receiver 2 and its predecessor from 2012. The game is dead simple—wander around procedurally generated buildings and shoot drones. The hook is that every single function of its real-life handguns (ranging from a Glock, M1911, Desert Eagle, etc) are simulated in-game.
Everything from charging the hammer, turning off the safety, and loading individual bullets into a magazine has its own command. After an hour or two of fumbling with reloads, you start to learn the order of operations and handle your guns like a pro. It’s a fascinating, unforgiving game that demands perfection to see it through.
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