There are countless genres of video game genres to get lost in — but one of the most popular is the first-person shooter (FPS). Spanning decades of unforgettable hits, the FPS genre is home to beloved classics that have sent us to space, to creepy houses in the bayou, mysterious underwater cities, and even head-to-head against other skilled players online. It’s a genre that is so much more than just shooting your foes.
Because there are so many to choose from, it can be daunting to make a selection for which ones to play. Many of the older FPS games are harder to get back into, while some of the newer ones might feel incomplete or are riddled with unfriendly loot boxes to purchase. Not to worry, though, as this list will go through the absolute best FPS games of all time, ranging from the N64 all the way to today.
From free-to-play multiplayer games to offline story-driven adventures, these are the best FPS games of all time.
Portal 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Let’s kick things off with one of the more unique entries on this list. Portal 2 is the follow up to the critically acclaimed Portal, somehow expanding on nearly everything the original had to offer — adding more puzzles, funnier dialogue, and cooperative gameplay. Both entries are great, but Portal 2 takes the…cake…by adding much more to do. It still features the beloved foundation of solving smart puzzles by shooting portals onto surfaces to come out the other side, but the sequel is much wittier and more challenging. It’s not a traditional FPS that comes to mind when you think of the genre, but rather a mind-melting puzzle adventure in which you play in first-person and shoot portals. We’ll likely never see a Portal 3, but we can still relish in the fact that the first two entries exist at all — all thanks to the masterminds at Valve.
Destiny 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PS5, Xbox Series X)
It’s tough to pick a game that defines a generation, but we wouldn’t argue with someone who thinks Destiny 2 (and the original Destiny) is an accurate representation of the current era of video games. Bungie, the team behind Halo is no stranger to developing an FPS game that feels great to play and that still holds true with Destiny 2. It is arguably the most robust games as a service we’ve seen, featuring daily objectives, an intense PvP mode, raids, and all the loot you could hope for. Many of today’s loot-based games owe a lot to the Destiny series — particularly in the way it entices you to keep coming back for more. Destiny 2 improves upon many of the criticisms from the first game — adding much more content, a fleshed-out story, and even converting to a free-to-ply model.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
While Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is first and foremost a horror game, we’d be remiss to not include it in our “best of” FPS games list. It’s almost unbelievable how well this installment turned out. After all, Resident Evil has always been played from the third-person perspective, giving you a deep sense of atmosphere while scaring your pants off with smart camera angles (in the earlier entries, anyway). RE7 throws the odd camera angles out the window and in many ways surpasses the originals — offering a much more intimate story, upping the ante in the horror department and immersion all thanks to being playable in first-person. Speaking of immersion, the entire game is playable in PSVR and we absolutely recommend you check that version out because it’s a remarkable showcase for what VR can do. The great thing is that we have a sequel, Resident Evil Village to look forward to, which will also be presented in first-person.
Overwatch (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
Overwatch is so much more than simply a hero shooter. It features a diverse and memorable cast of characters, constant updates, well-designed maps, and an uplifting and positive vibe throughout. At the time of release, there were many online shooters that came out — all of which were competing for your time. It’s no surprise that Overwatch has stood the test of time, remaining one of the most popular hero shooters today. It’s fast, balanced, and most importantly, fun. And we have a sequel, Overwatch 2, to look forward to, as well, though it’ll likely be a while before we get our hands on it.
Far Cry 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One)
Ever want to vacation on a tropical remote island with deadly creatures and one of the most iconic villains in video game history? Well, probably not in real life, but Far Cry 3 does a great job of sending you there in digital format, solidifying the groundwork for what would become one of Ubisoft’s flagship franchises. Despite how evil he is, it’s hard not to love the game’s villain, Vaas, as he constantly pops in to remind you who’s in charge. As you explore the beautiful Rook Islands, you gather resources, crafting materials, XP, and a nearly endless arsenal of weapons to defeat your foes. This installment offers a chaotic playground for you to experiment with — and while later entries feature larger and more robust open worlds, the concise nature of Far Cry 3 is its biggest strength, while still giving you a ton to do.
Call of Duty: Warzone (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
In what was one of the biggest surprises of 2020, Call of Duty: Warzone takes the popular battle royale formula and adds the iconic gameplay the CoD series is known for. There’s something exhilarating about outlasting the competition, whether you’re an aggressive run-and-gunner, or a more passive sniper — there’s something for nearly all play styles here. What makes this particular take worthwhile (aside from how good it feels to play) are the little additions and embellishments that make it stand out against its competitors. Being able to return to the fight after surviving a deadly 1v1 in The Gulag, the ability to bring in your custom loadout into the match, the aggressiveness of the gas that constantly closes in on you — all of that gives Warzone its own identity. And with the impressive amount of updates Activision and Infinity Ward have implemented since its release, Warzone is not just one of the best games of 2020, but of all time.
BioShock (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
There isn’t anything like the original BioShock. From the moment we laid eyes on the underwater city of Rapture, we knew this game would be special, but perhaps underestimated just how important this game would end up being in the long run. BioShock is moody, dark, and creepy — depicting a dystopian world full of inhabitants that are out to get you. The blend of 1960s aesthetics with pseudo science-fiction themes make BioShock memorable — and when you add the light RPG mechanics and survival horror elements, you get one of the most timeless FPS games ever. Thankfully, it’s playable on pretty much every modern device, including Nintendo Switch. And we have a new game in the series to look forward to at some point in the future.
Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)
This one might not hold up the way you remember, but we wanted to give Goldeneye 007 a shoutout, at least for nostalgia’s sake. Many of us remember playing this in its four-player split-screen multiplayer mode with friends, as we accused one another of “screen cheating” when someone would win. Many iconic shooters of the time clearly drew inspiration from Goldeneye, partially due to its effective use of stealth gameplay, diverse weapons, fun single-player narrative, and of course, its iconic multiplayer modes. Games based on movie licenses are typically bad, but Goldeneye 007 is one of the few exceptions to the rule, sending us and our friends through a James Bond adventure we’ll never forget.
Left 4 Dead (PC, Xbox 360)
It’s a sad thing we haven’t gotten another game in the Left 4 Dead series — but at least we can still enjoy the wacky, chaotic fun introduced in the first two entries. During a time when zombie games were a dime a dozen, Left 4 Dead (and Left 4 Dead 2) managed to come out on top, delivering a unique twist and a charming cast of characters. Your job is simple: Get through each level while avoiding or defeating the onslaught of zombies thrown at you — and escape via vehicle at the end. The layouts of each level are the same each time, but which zombies make an appearance (as well as the items that spawn) are random, giving you a fresh take each time you play. These games are designed for cooperative play and reward you for effective communication and skillful playing. Everything from the wild special infected (looking at you, Tanks), to the tremendous level design, and cast of characters are top-notch, as you’d expect by the team at Valve.
Metro Exodus (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia)
The Metro games have usually gone under the radar, quietly pulling in an audience that has grown with each entry. The most recent installment, Metro Exodus, features an intricate blend of survival horror elements, first-person shooting, and an effective crafting system — all while telling an engaging story. Based on the popular novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Metro games, especially Metro Exodus, send you to a deadly world with lots of enemies and obstacles to overcome. The way the game encourages you to explore by rewarding you with crafting materials and bits of story throughout is its biggest strength — giving us serious Half-Life vibes with the way it handles atmosphere.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
What originally started out as a Half-Life mod, Counter-Strike turned into an immensely popular PvP multiplayer FPS — pitting teams against one another to defend bombs, rescue hostages, or protect VIPs. With Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), nearly everything feels better than before, from the visuals, to gameplay, and the addition of overall quality of life improvements. It features a system in which players purchase weapons with real money, or by acquiring them from in-game drops, giving you an incentive to keep playing. The real star of the show is its tactical gameplay, which often features round-based modes that do not allow you to respawn — meaning every round must be played deliberately and carefully. This is yet another example of just how talented Valve is.
DOOM (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia)
The idea of slaying demons on Mars already sounds like a good time, but the team at id Software somehow took that concept and made it better than anyone could have imagined in 2016’s DOOM. It serves as a reboot of the series, taking the fundamentals from the earlier installments and refining them in practically every way. In DOOM, you’ve got all the weapons you could hope for, including a chainsaw and rocket launcher, an interesting and rewarding progression system, tons of secrets, and a killer metal soundtrack courtesy of Mick Gordon. Running through the varied stages never gets old — mostly due to the sprinkles of powerups and variety of enemies littered throughout. We would call it “dumb fun,” but the way it’s designed is anything but dumb.
Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One)
Just like how DOOM 2016 nailed the art of slaying extraterrestrial demons, 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order is an exceptional game for mowing down Nazis — in an alternate version of history. This, too, reboots the series, introducing more nuanced characters, better visuals, a more in-depth narrative, and immensely satisfying gameplay. We especially love the health system, in which you don’t regenerate it automatically, but instead must collect health packs around the world — giving you a major incentive to explore the well-designed levels. Add in a bit of stealth and insane boss battles, and it’s easy to see why The New Order is so popular.
Prey (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
We’re just going to say it: Prey deserved more attention than it got in 2017. For some reason, as with most Arkane games, it failed to light the world on fire, despite being superb. Prey is an RPG set in space, akin to classics like System Shock, while still feeling modern. It features a deeply psychological story, a blend of horror elements, and a satisfying gameplay loop. Much like Fallout 3 or BioShock, you go around and collect items from every nook and cranny possible in attempts to be prepared for the fights that lie ahead. We especially love the artistic design of Prey — along with its atmospheric storytelling. It’s a game that absolutely deserves another chance.
Battlefield 1 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
We know there are a host of Battlefield games to try, and while fan favorites like the Bad Company side series are good (or even great), we have to hand it to Battlefield 1. This entry hones in the World War I themes and settings, retelling many historical events in a somewhat accurate way. It feels authentic and brutal, as it should, with it covering such a heavy subject matter. It feels realistic without sacrificing the fun factor, which many games fail to do in some regards. The story itself is told in bite-sized vignettes, as opposed to one large overarching narrative — which we think is way more successful and varied. And then, when you’re ready, you can hop into the expansive multiplayer mode, where you’ll likely sink dozens of hours into it like we did. You’ll find a rewarding progression system, a laundry list of modes to enjoy, and weapons that feel good to use.
Rainbow Six Siege (PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X)
The thing about Rainbow Six Siege is that it started from humble beginnings. The gameplay was always terrific, but when it launched in 2015, it was completely barebones and lacked content to warrant the entry price, especially without a single-player campaign. Now, nearly five years later, the game has gotten update after update, expanding upon the groundwork laid out so long ago. It’s way different than a Call of Duty or Battlefield in that it’s much more tactical. Taking cues from Counter-Strike, it features numerous one life, round-based modes, in which you have to make each round count. The operators all feel unique and have a sense of personality, with intriguing gadgets that you’ll tinker with for hours. Siege isn’t the easiest to get into, but once it clicks, it’s hard to put down. Despite it being tough to grasp initially, Siege is home to over 60 million players, which is incredibly impressive considering its difficulty.
Borderlands 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch)
Before there was Destiny, there was Borderlands (and Borderlands 2) — a game that popularized the loot-based genre. Sure, there were games doing this for years, but on console, it wasn’t as common until Borderlands came around. The second one specifically, is known for how well it handles its characters, many of which are wacky and funny caricatures of classic archetypes. The huge open world and what feels like a never-ending series of quests combined with the absolute wild selection of guns give this game an edge over many that have tried to nail the loot formula. What’s great is that the entirety of the series is playable cooperatively, though it isn’t considered a live-service game in the same way something like Destiny 2 is.
Titanfall 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Ah, good old Titanfall 2 — a game that suffered from being sandwiched between the aforementioned Battlefield 1 (also published by EA) and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare when it released in 2016. Because of the oversaturation of shooters that fall, fewer people ran out to buy Titanfall 2 which was arguably the best out of that trio of games. Unlike the first entry, Titanfall 2 featured a fully-fledged single-player campaign, with some of the best gameplay we’ve seen in the past decade. While the story itself was forgettable, the fast run-and-gun mechanics, fluidity in traversal, and variety of ways you’re able to tackle objectives make this game stand out. Let’s not forget about the stars of the show, the Titans, which are huge mecha exoskeletons that all have unique abilities for you to use. Sure, it’s a very “video game-y” idea, but no game nails this as well as Titanfall 2. And of course, its generous multiplayer offering evolved upon what made the original so great, featuring more modes, better maps, and a greater selection of abilities.
Payday 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
The Payday series is one that picked up steam with the second entry, and what a glorious game it is. Payday 2 introduced a much more expansive upgrade system, with interesting storylines and tons of variety. In it, your job is not just to rob banks and jewelry stores, but to partake in elaborate schemes that feature multipart missions to get everything set up. There’s lots to unlock, like new cosmetics or weapons, and a slew of abilities to enhance your characters. The game is entirely played with up to four players total, and it’s recommended to coordinate with your team because things get extremely challenging later on. What’s interesting about Payday 2 is that each mission has a degree of randomness, such as the locations of enemies, cameras, the cash — all of which are meant to keep you on your toes. It takes some work to plan things out properly, but when you do, the feeling of grabbing a huge score is ever-so gratifying.
Apex Legends (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
Apex Legends had a lot going against it and yet it somehow managed to take the video game industry by storm when it launched in 2019. Yet another battle royale set in the Titanfall universe? We couldn’t have predicted its success, but thanks to its wonderful cast of characters, beautiful art style, and the fact that it’s free, millions of players have flocked to it — and deservedly so. Much like Titanfall, it features fast and fluid gameplay, with characters that mirror those found in Overwatch — each with their own unique backstories and abilities. There’s something about Apex Legends that feels wholesome and the majority of the gaming industry has been rooting for it to succeed since it released. Following its launch, it has gotten five seasons of content, offering free events and goodies for the community to enjoy — a tremendous value when you consider the entry price of free.
Team Fortress 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Is it a coincidence that nearly every series Valve has developed has a spot on this list? Absolutely not — as the team is a masterclass of a developer. The next one we’ll be covering is Team Fortress 2, which launched alongside The Orange Box — one of the best values in video game history, featuring Portal, Half-Life 2 (and all its episodic content), and Team Fortress 2 all in one package. Team Fortress 2 is a PvP multiplayer game featuring classes all with their own personalities and in-game characteristics, not unlike the hero shooters of today. What makes this game so special is the effective use of humor and top-notch gameplay that never stops feeling good. Something about running around as a Pyro, dealing damage with your flamethrower; or sitting back to take out enemies as a Sniper feels so simple, yet so effective. The colorful art style, whimsical music, and nearly perfect balance make this one of the pinnacles of multiplayer games. The best part is that it has since become free-to-play on Steam, so there’s no excuse to give this a try!
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (PC, Xbox One)
It might be cheating to add this compilation to the list, as Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) includes every mainline entry in the series in one package, but we’re going to add it anyway. In total, it features Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and will include Halo 4 at some point in the future. That’s the thing about MCC — it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Those who own it have gotten numerous, hefty additions that not only compile everything into a complete package, but also add some improvements to each entry, particularly in the visual department. There’s so much here, from playing through the epic stories in solo or co-op, to the gargantuan multiplayer suites — featuring more modes and maps than you can count. Since release, 343 Industries has fixed many of the matchmaking issues and bugs, so now’s a great time to jump on board, whether you’re a new Halo fan or a veteran of the series.
Half-Life 2 (PC, Xbox, PS3, Xbox 360)
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Arguably the best FPS of all time, Half-Life 2 is cited as one of the most influential games of not just the genre, but in all of video games as a whole. Even to this day, 16 years later, its physics, story, characters, art direction, sounds, and overarching themes are unmatched. We particularly love the environmental storytelling it presents, which is depicted as soon as you start your journey in City 17. While the game is worthy of praise, in and of itself, its legacy has turned the series into a meme — following the gut-wrenching cliffhanger left by the game’s final episode. We may never get to see its conclusion, but that shouldn’t deter you from playing one of the best games of all time, Half-Life 2 (and all its episodic content). Fortunately, if you need more Valve goodness in your life, it recently developed Half-Life: Alyx, which serves as a prequel to Half-Life 2 — playable solely in VR.
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