For more than two decades, the best FPS games have been the driving force of the PC games industry. They’ve let us travel from the depths of Hell in Doom to the outer reaches of space in Titanfall 2. Others have taken us on a detour through the likes of Half-Life 2’s zombie-infested Ravenholm, while some have embraced futuristic cities.
Some of these FPS games are old, others are new, all are great. Wolfenstein 2’s amazing campaign; Rainbow Six Siege and its tight tactical multiplayer; Overwatch and its vast array of amazing heroes. No matter what sort of virtual gunplay you’re after, the following list of best FPS games will satisfy your itchy trigger finger.
We recommend the following games for anyone who wants to sit alone and blast monsters or other deserving bad guys. They may include multiplayer modes, but we chose these games and put them in this section because we think they offer the best single player campaigns around.
Somehow Titanfall 2's campaign ended up being the star of the show for us, despite a host of high-value multiplayer options as well. Development of the game's single-player was treated like a game jam of sorts, where different members of the team would pitch their ideas for what a single player Titanfall 2 idea level would look like.
The end result brings a really curious mix of thrilling platforming challenges, one-off level-changing tools and even puzzle elements, alongside BT, a charming mech pal who's like having a giant talking metal dog.
Prey's 2017 reboot from the minds behind the Dishonored series is a modern immersive sim classic. Leveraging the greatest ideas from its System Shock predecessors with modern sensibilities and Arkane's incredible eye for aesthetic design, Prey is a dense, lethal playground for experimentation and discovery.
Locked door? Well, you can repair it yourself, or force it open, or scrounge through an office for a key, or warp into a coffee mug and roll through a crack in the window, or shoot a Nerf dart through that same crack to press a button that unlocks it from within. The latest Prey is Arkane's greatest expression of its "Play it your way" mantra and can be enjoyed through numerous playthroughs as a result.
Metro Exodus trades the claustrophobic Moscow subway tunnels of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light for a mix of open and linear environments across an unexpectedly lush, living Russia. It's still the same shooter at its core, though, with horrific enemies, boisterous comrades, loud, crappy guns, and the best Eastern European post-apocalypse this side of Stalker. But what really makes it work is its heart.
The men and women you travel with are as rough and rugged as they come, but they have a genuine love for one another that transcends the rote camaraderie of most shooters, and one of the game's most memorable moments isn't an action sequence (although there are plenty of those) but a mournful, introspective wedding song about the loss of innocence during a time of war.
2033 and Last Light are smaller and much more linear than Exodus, but their portrayals of a slow, stoic struggle to survive in a genuinely awful wasteland are still well worth playing too.
Half-Life: Alyx's level designer only played around five hours of the original Half-Life before dropping it for fan remake Black Mesa instead and for good reason. What started as a mod homage to the original game blossomed (very slowly) over 15 years into a full blown reinterpretation. Built in Source, Half-Life 2's familiar physics make for more complex puzzles and explosive combat at a much larger scale.
The early chapters of Black Mesa actually feel like the world-rending, panicked disaster the low-poly original was gunning for. It's a goddamn nightmare, and that's all before getting to Xen, a total reimagining of Half-Life's worst bits.
BioShock's greatest asset is its setting, and what Rapture provides from its ruined eden are enemies that are hysterical, tragic figures. One encounter with a Splicer or a Big Daddy can arc from curiosity, to sympathy, and then swing into full-on fear and violent panic. One of the best things Irrational does is imbue its monsters with terrifying sound design: the psychotic speech of Splicers, the fog horn drone and steel steps of the Big Daddies.
The claustrophobia and anxiety Rapture throws at you gives you permission to fight recklessly, tooth-and-nail with powerful plasmids and upgraded shotguns as a way of getting revenge on the horrors that haunt you.
F.E.A.R.’s supernatural encounters are somewhat segregated from its shootouts. One moment you’re a time-slowing, slide-kicking SWAT superman, the next corridor you’re peeing your pants because an eight-year-old ghost is lurking in your hallway.
That pacing empowers and scares you, a feat for games that combine action and horror. The creepiness that permeates everything works with F.E.A.R.’s outstanding weapon design, clever enemy pathfinding, and dimly-lit offices that are simultaneously unsettling and cathartic to blow apart in slow motion.
There's a big barrier to entry since it's VR-only, but despite only having three guns to choose from Half-Life: Alyx is an exciting and at many times utterly frantic shooter. As headcrabs scuttle, zombies lurch, and antlions charge, you'll have to physically pop fresh clips into your pistol and jam shells into your shotgun—sometimes in near-complete darkness.
Learning to perform the actions smoothly takes time, and they're put to the test regularly as swarms of monsters and Combine soldiers come at you from all sides. Weapons are upgradable so you can eventually add a grenade launcher to your shottie and a hefty magazine expansion to your pulse pistol for expelling long bursts of fire—positively cathartic after being careful with your ammo in the early sections of the game.
This big, silly revival of Wolfenstein has inventive level design, a daft but entertaining story based on an alternate WWII history, and guns that feel amazing to fire. It also made dual-wielding an exciting idea for the first time in about a decade. You battle boilerplate robo-dogs, you fight Nazis on the Moon.
The feel of the machine guns and shotguns is spot-on. The former Starbreeze leads who formed MachineGames reinterpreted Wolfenstein in a way that made it exciting and new both for the series’ existing audience and for those gamers coming in fresh. This big, chunky shooter is so much more than just a retro pastiche, offering variety and production values you rarely get to enjoy in single player games these days. The sequel is good, but we prefer this game, play it first.
Wolfenstein 3D preceded it by a year, but Doom is in the DNA of everything here. It’s the progenitor of moving, aiming, and shooting things that hate your health bar in a 3D environment. Hunting for access cards and thumbing walls with spacebar doesn’t have the appeal today that it did in 1993, but Carmack’s technical feats (like creating height differences in a 3D environment, a totally new concept at the time) and well-animated sprites help Doom hold up as an agile, colorful, essential shooter that happens to be the foundation for every other game here.
Doom and Doom 2 have also been elevated by the modding community. More than 20 years later, they’re still going strong. You’ll find new weapons, new campaigns and total conversions that let you be everything from a pirate to a cartoon square. Even John Romero is still releasing maps.
This one's for all the extreme pointers and clickers out there. We recommend Doom 2016 as a warmup, an introduction to the faster pace and health-giving systems like Glory Kills that encourage aggressive, reckless play. Because Doom Eternal moves much faster, with added mobility like the dash and the ability to swing from monkey bars, and it squeezes every vital resource with an iron grip.
Health, armor, and ammo deplete faster than ever—arenas are bigger and filled with more demons overall—making for a more desperate, stressful shooter than the series' past. You're constantly riding the edge of death, bouncing in and out of the action to get shots in and stock back up on whatever resource is hurting the most, hopefully, before it's too late.