First-person shooters are a pretty old genre. Their origins could be arguably traced back to the 1970s, but most agree that the genre began in earnest with Wolfenstein 3D launched in 1992. A lot has changed between then and now, and FPS games have gone a long way to be where they are.
Nowadays, many great first-person shooters are online cool shooting games that thousands of players play and compete on various eSports events. Nevertheless, there are still some classic 1st person shooter games that suit the taste of older gamers.
Let’s take a look at some of the best first-person shooters one could play on PC. To maintain fairness, we arranged the games from the oldest to the most recent by year of release. We also want to point out that we skipped the Call of Duty, Battlefield, Wolfenstein and Medal of Honor video game series as they are obvious choices and clearly the best war shooters in history as well as we wanted to underline the best FPS games not set during a historical period of a particular war.
No list of PC-available FPSs could be complete without Valve’s eternal no-sequel-having Half-Life 2.
Itself a sequel to Half-Life, HL2 turned out to be a colossal hit due to, at the time, great graphics, and an advanced physics engine. One of the best parts of HL2 was the Gravity Gun, which let the player pick up objects in the world and throw them at a deadly speed at the enemies. Go see for yourself why it received multiple perfect scores at the time, and how it holds up to this day.
F.E.A.R. is what you get when you smash together stereotypical Japanese horror tropes with tight, bullet time-filled shootouts with a quite capable AI adding to the tension.
Smart enemies, excellent use of bullet time (called ‘reflex mode’ here), thundering sound design… F.E.A.R’s graphics may have aged in the technical aspect, but the design choices and the tension are as fine as ever.
Left 4 Dead 2
After the smashing success of Turtle Rock Studios-made Left 4 Dead, Valve took the matter in their own hands in creating the sequel.
And ten years on it still lives, even if newer and flashier titles get more players. Using the AI Director 2.0, L4D2 makes sure you get the right kind of experience based on your teams’ performance. At its best, it makes sure that no two games of this cooperative shooter are going to be the same.
As the solution for the lack of new S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games comes the Metro series, based on the books by Dmitry Glukhovsky.
Most of it takes place in the Moscow metro repurposed as a fallout shelter, housing people who managed to escape the destruction of a nuclear war. Yes, it’s a post-apocalypse, but few developers do it with as much spirit and atmosphere as Ukrainian studios do. You’ll be playing a man called Artyom, who needs to figure out who is behind the vicious attacks on the residents of the metro tunnels.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (or CS: GO) is the fourth iteration of the game which came to be thanks to a mod for Half-Life 1. CS: Go is the ultimate online shooter and one of the best multiplayer games in the world.
A deeply tactical shooter, the crux of a CS: GO experience revolves around team-based PvP of Terrorists vs. Counter-Terrorists. Seven years after its release it still enjoys massive popularity on Steam with hundreds of thousands of players playing matches and hunting for skins to customize their avatars’ various accouterments.
Gearbox’ irreverent looter-shooter absolutely should have its place on the list.
Mixing harsh, somewhat Mad-Maxian world of Pandora, with tonnes of RNG loot, and a good sense of humor. If you like to be showered in virtually endlessly diverse loot, then Borderlands 2 is the right game for you. In addition to randomly generated gun statistics, there are also unique weapons with special properties. There’re even some talking ones!
Rainbow Six: Siege
While it’s nowhere near the popularity of CS: GO, R6: Siege is quite a capable team-based shooter. Even though Rainbow Six series is associated with a tactical stealth game, R6: Siege has a very developed online multiplayer modes and is one of the best modern online shooting games.
It puts two teams in a building, gives players a choice of characters with unique abilities, and sets them loose on the location, with specific goals to accomplish. The locations are very destructible, enabling unusual tactics, like blowing up walls or ceilings, building barricades to block breaches, or scouting by sending probes through bullet holes.
2016’s Doom soft reboot proved that old-school is still very much alive. Once again demons are on the back foot against the assault of a man literally too angry to die. And you are in his shoes.
This game is eager to take you from one slaughter to the next, with bits of surprisingly well-done story and characterization in-between. The Doomslayer has to bob and weave between demons’ attacks, pick the right targets to off first, and decide if it’s the right time to punch a demon to death and get some health back, rather than just shoot it dead.
Oddly downplayed by the publisher, and launched right between two massive shooters, Titanfall 2 was far from a commercial success.
None of which stopped it from being a pretty dang slick game, with a great singleplayer campaign, and a fast-paced multiplayer. The game distinguishes itself from others through its exceptional first-person parkour, enabling a spectacular playstyle both in single- and in multi-player. And then there are the titans themselves, which provide heavy support and a second, heavy-hitting, layer to the game.
Blizzard’s first foray into the first-person shooter genre, and in an inherently competitive, multiplayer environment is quite a hit. The online game is a typical example of modern Hero Shooter video game that is getting more and more popular.
Although not as hot as it was in the first year or two, it’s still going strong and with the growing popularity of cartoon shooting games that have aesthetics directed towards a younger audience, it seems that Overwatch together with Fortnite and Apex Legends will be the ruling trio of online shooters. As a hero-shooter, Overwatch puts all of its eggs in the basket of unique characters. Each of them has a specialized ability kit defining their role on the battlefield, and some backstory defining their place in the broader setting.
There’s no stopping First-person shooters are perhaps the most reliable genre out there, able to survive decades with cosmetic changes to the core driving idea. There’s no telling what FPSs hide in the future. Of course, the list above is not exhaustive, it’s just a part of a slice through the genre.