Halo Combat Evolved

The 10 Best First-Person Shooter Games Ever Made, Ranked

Sometimes you connect with a main character so much that you wanna see the world through their eyes. And then pump that world full of thousands of hot, stinking lead. It is for this reason that the First Person Shooter was created, for the wanton destroyer in all of us.

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10. Titanfall 2

POV of a soldier with a gun looking at a giant robot mech suit in "Titanfall 2"

Titanfall 2 is one of the more recent game-changing revolutionizers of the genre. Set in a hard sci-fi future, the human race has taken a page out of the mecha anime playbook and decided to equip its military personnel with fancy AI-run mechs called Titans. Your mech? A big, hulking cinnamon roll named BT. You spend the game running and gunning Mirror’s Edge style and then jumping into the cockpit of your bulletproof buddy to put the hurt on a renegade mercenary group. While the gameplay is top-notch, the real star of the show is the buddy cop robot x human drama at the heart of it.

9. Borderlands 2

Handsome Jack standing with arms folded in a poster for "Borderlands"

Borderlands 2 is soft on the science and hard on the fiction. Set on a dangerous planet at the far rim of the Galaxy, a sociopathic Elon Musk-type businessman called Handsome Jack has laid his corporate claim on the world. You play as one of four renegade treasure hunters who are gonna stop him. How? With literally millions of guns. Seriously. This game has over 150 million procedurally generated guns. More guns than every other third-gen FPS shooter combined. Pair that with some of the funniest dialogue ever put on a console and you’ve got a recipe for success.

8. Counterstrike

POV of a soldier running through a desert town holding an AK-47

The turn of the 21st-century tactical shooter Counterstrike was more than just a game, it was responsible for (for better or worse) helping shape the culture of the internet itself. Pwning noobs. Teabagging the corpses of fallen foes. Counterstrike was where it began. The simple squad vs. squad-based combat was so vicious, so brutal, so tactically demanding that it laid the foundations for esports as we know it. Without Counterstrike, competitive gaming wouldn’t exist.

7. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

POV of a soldier shooting a machine gun in "Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus"

The Wolfenstein franchise helped define the genre of the first-person shooter, and The New Colossus is the apex of the series. The game takes place in a Man In The High Castle alternate future where the Axis powers won World War II, conquering the United States and placing it under Nazi control. Luckily former American soldier turned freedom fighter B.J. Blazkowicz isn’t gonna let those damn fascists win without a fight. The result? A sci-fi thriller romp that will turn even the most cynical political mind into a gum-chewing, ass-kicking, “U.S.A.” chanting patriot.

6. F.E.A.R.

A violent scene from F.E.A.R.
(Vivendi Games)

An acronym for “First Encounter Assault Recon”, F.E.A.R. was a landmark blend of the FPS genre and horror. You take control of a silent protagonist known as the Point Man, who is a member of the titular military organization created to “combat threats to national security.” What’s the threat in this game? A rogue psychic has taken control of a government blacksite, and you and your squad have to go in and stop him. The game was revolutionary for its creative use of bullet time, allowing you to riddle your ghostly foes with lead in glorious slow motion.

5. Halo: Combat Evolved

Halo Combat Evolved
(Xbox/Bungie Inc.)

A seminal first-person shooter responsible for inspiring future sci-fi titles like Mass Effect, Halo: Combat: Evolved was the reason an entire generation of kids owned an Xbox. The story stars one of gaming’s most iconic protagonists, the seven-foot-tall armor-clad super-soldier known as Master Chief. The Chief is called upon by the government of Earth to defend the spacefaring human race against an alien threat.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Four soldiers from "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" stand fully equipped

The release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare marked a genre-defining moment in FPS history. A series formerly focused on World War 2 drama was suddenly taken into the modern age of warfare (hence the name). Released in 2007 at the height of U.S. occupation in the Middle East, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare told a present-day war story that felt fresh, relevant, and harrowingly real.

3. Half Life 2

First person POV from "Half Life 2" shooting a gun at alien horrors

Half Life 2 haunts “Top Ten” lists across the internet. Why? Because it deserves to. This game is perhaps the greatest science fiction story ever told in the medium. You play as Gordon Freeman, a former employee of the top-secret research facility Black Mesa. Why former? Because the place was decimated after researchers accidentally opened a portal to another dimension and an extraterrestrial empire called The Combine invaded the Earth. Now Gordon has to navigate a changed planet and defeat the alien menace, one crowbar swing at a time.

2. Bioshock

A Big Daddy lunges for the protagonist on "Bioshock"

The first-person genre was not known for cerebral storytelling. Bioshock changed all of that. Set in one of the most creative locations in videogame history, players must take control of an amnesic man who must navigate a derelict underwater art-deco metropolis. Facing off against drugged-up flapper girls and diving suit-clad behemoths, you make your way through the city of Rapture while augmenting yourself with gene-altering technology to defeat foes. The result? A complex narrative about the nature of morality, free will, and little girls infected with bioengineered sea slugs. Long story.


POV of aiming a shotgun at approaching monsters in the original "Doom"
(id Software)

DOOM understood the first-person shooter assignment. After all, it practically created the genre. No heady plots. No complex questions of morality. No scientific pondering. Just guns. And demons. And pointing one at the other. You play as a silent protagonist whose character is so undefined he doesn’t even have a name: he’s the Doomguy. And he’s here to slay the forces of Hell. Demons are spilling out from the Inferno across the face of the Earth, and it’s your job to stop them. How? With both barrels of 00 buckshot. Doom is bloody, frenetic, heavy metal fun. Whether it’s the original classic or the shiny new 2016 remake, the recipe is the same: shoot demons first, ask questions never.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.