10. Team Fortress 2
If you haven’t heard of Team Fortress 2 by now, we have reason to believe you were truly born yesterday. Or at least in late 2014. Team Fortress 2 is a team-based shooter that pits team RED against team BLU in a variety of game modes, with nine vastly different playable classes to choose from throughout each match.
Ever since its release in 2007, the community has grown significantly after the game went free-to-play. Now everyone can enjoy the fun madness that is Team Fortress 2, and its in-game item drops that provide an extra reason to keep coming back for more. Collecting these items — ranging from trinkets to locked crates to its infamously beloved hats — allows you to personalize each of the game’s classes, with many unique weapons boasting their own benefits that will change the way you play one certain character.
Whether you’re rushing in with the Pyro setting enemies ablaze or defending the objective with the Heavy’s powerful minigun, players are frequently forced to pick different classes that better suit the flow and pace of that one certain match. It’s that constant dynamic that keeps players invested after almost a decade, without even mentioning how fluid and natural every class handles.
9. Fallout 4
With its new crafting systems and the ability to build and manage your own strongholds, Fallout 4 is easily the most versatile game in the series. Some swear by the originality of Fallout 3 or the impressive setting of Fallout: New Vegas, but this latest installment fine tunes the franchise’s shooting mechanics, and that’s ultimately what this feature is all about.
The story told here can be rather intriguing despite Fallout 4 heavily dialing back on the dialogue options, causing you to cross paths with a wide array of unique and memorable characters. Where Fallout 4 truly shines, however, is when you venture off the beaten path and explore the vast Commonwealth on your own terms. There are countless items to loot, weapons to craft, side missions to complete, enemy encampments to overthrow, alliances and rivalries to unfold, and the list stretches on and on.
Exploring this detailed world is a one-of-a-kind experience that will have you glued to your screen for hours on end, excluding the massive amount of content its Season Pass adds. Purchasing the latter lets you build your own Vault, expand your settlements with new workshops and put together your very own robot companion, as well as providing three brand new story packs that will add loads of gameplay time for those who wish to explore every nook and cranny.
Still, even with just the base game in your possession, expect to be playing at least 50 hours (if not more) of Fallout 4 until you’re truly familiar with what it offers. There are plenty of ability points to spend and mechanics to be uncovered for those who dig deep enough!
After the success of Wolfenstein: The New Order and its standalone The Old Blood DLC, Bethesda tackled yet another classic and brought it to the attention of the modern-day gamer. Not only is DOOM a great addition to one of the genre’s fundamental series, but it also treats gamers to a brutal shooter experience that doesn’t waste any time before bullets start flying and blood begins to splatter viciously.
The lengthy campaign is riddled with secret areas and collectibles, giving you plenty of reason to replay DOOM on higher difficulty levels. The gruesome finishers rarely grow old and are complemented by great sound design and phenomenal animations, making every crunching bone and twisting limb feel oddly satisfying. Add to that the option to upgrade your armor and weapon abilities with tokens that are rewarded for completing a vast variety of level-specific challenges and you’ve got yourself the ideal recipe for dozens upon dozens of hours of unparalleled fun.
While often overlooked, its multiplayer is one of the fastest and most frantic in recent memory and can add quite a few hours to your gameplay time. Weapons and armor can be highly customized and the maps are designed in a way that lend themselves to versatility and opportunity, trading the traditional slower gameplay and regenerating health for fast-paced combat with health and armor pick-ups scattered throughout the map.
In Superhot, time only moves when you move. This not only sounds intriguing on paper, but also makes for some of the most unique and intense action sequences we’ve ever experienced. Whether you’re facing off against red guys wielding shotguns while you’re boasting a mere pistol or there’s a bullet soaring right towards your noggin that can be spliced in half with the swing of a katana, there are countless adrenaline-fueled and cleverly designed confrontations awaiting you here.
The story may be a bit on the short side, but with its dozens of challenge modes, time trials, and hidden terminals scattered throughout, there is a lot here that will keep you coming back long after you’ve played through its trippy campaign. The Endless Mode is where it’s at for us however, pitting you against wave after wave of opposing red dudes that are out for your head while you’re trying to beat your own high score, using every weapon and environmental prop to your advantage.
Firing your gun at one enemy, turning towards another, throwing your weapon to stun him, picking up his weapon mid-air, shooting the guy behind you in the stomach and finishing off the stunned one with a punch to the knee never ever gets old. In fact, switching from Superhot to any other game may just leave you a bit confused as to why time is moving when you aren’t, which merely proves this one knows exactly what it’s doing. This is truly 01101000 01100101 01101100 01110000.
It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.
6. Metro series
Truly atmospheric first-person shooters are few and far between lately, yet both Metro 2033 and its sequel Metro: Last Light beautifully capture the desperation and isolation of living in an underground tunnel system set in horrifying post-apocalyptic world.
While these titles may be quite linear compared to some other entries on our list, their solid shooting mechanics and suffocating atmosphere will recall memories of the older S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. Besides, the Metro games tell an engrossing story about humanity that will stick with you long after the end credits roll. Games based off novels rarely tend to do its source material justice, yet Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Russian tale is respectfully brought to life here.
Whether things get real and you hear yourself panting on the surface with a crack in your gas mask or you find yourself forced to fire precious bullets that could have been used as currency in one of the underground’s many settlements, both entries perfectly pace adrenaline-fueled action and gut-wrenching encounters to make for one of the most captivating gaming experiences to date.
Bulletstorm managed to take a relatively worn genre and turned it upside-down, creating a hilarious and at times offensive shooter that rewards you for taking out the poor suckers that stand in your way with various methods. Even though Bulletstorm soared under the radar of far too many, this is the number one FPS we’d recommend if you’re looking for all-out arcade fun.
Pulling enemies toward you and melting their faces off with charged shots, kicking them into flesh-eating plants or shooting them in the balls for added sadistic pleasure are just some of the hundreds of creative ways you can go about scoring points in Bulletstorm. It may sound dull to play a shooter where you must rack up a high score by humiliatingly killing your enemies, but the trick here is that its laugh-out-loud violence never gets old.
Besides solid shooting mechanics and an impressively varied amount of weapons at your disposal, Bulletstorm also features uproarious one-liners delivered by its otherwise forgettable characters, lending the entire cast a much needed sense of chemistry. It’s obvious that this game wishes to entertain, and at that, it effortlessly succeeds.
4. BioShock series
Psychological horror was taken to new heights with the release of BioShock in 2007, plummeting the player into the beautifully designed underwater city of Rapture where things have gone awry. From the second you set foot in this artistically crafted world, you can immediately feel the isolation getting to you, as if the glass walls could crack at any moment and leave you drowning at the bottom of the ocean.
As if that alone wasn’t enough, there are plenty of deformed, mentally unstable hostiles roaming Rapture’s maze-like hallways, but it’s definitely the Big Daddies escorting their creepy Little Sisters that will make your hands sweat with fright. The former are genetically enhanced human beings that had their organs placed into a big, clunky diving suit with their sole purpose being to protect the eerie-looking, yellow-eyed Little Sisters while they harvest precious materials from the corpses scattered throughout Rapture.
Its shooting may have been on the stiffer side compared to some other entries on this list, but it’s the flawless mix between the Plasmid superpowers and a large selection of guns that made the original an intense shooter experience, especially since the aforementioned Plasmids allow you to manipulate the environment by utilizing the elements. Fire could thaw ice and set oil ablaze, for example, whereas electricity could electrify everyone standing in a puddle of water. This ability to play and interact with elemental design was relatively unseen back in 2007, and despite its age, BioShock still stands strong compared to some of today’s titles.
BioShock 2 put the player inside the suit of a Big Daddy, unveiling more secrets about Rapture and the history of its inhabitants. While it wasn’t as astonishing or ground-breaking as the original, this second installment managed to put an interesting twist on the events from the first game as well as giving you the option to brutally drill the guts out of your enemy, which is a big gory plus in our book.
With BioShock Infinite, the entire franchise got turned upside down — quite literally so. Instead of the suffocating depths of Rapture, players were sent to the floating city of Columbia, granting much more flexible traversal options as well as bringing a whole new setting to the series whilst respecting the mind-blowing storytelling of the original. Its Burial at Sea episodes combine the refined gameplay mechanics of Infinite with the beloved world of Rapture realized throughout BioShock 1 and 2, making the two pieces of DLC arguably the best entries in the series thus far.
If it’s an intense psychological story you seek, any of the BioShock games are bound to leave you gasping with its many surprising twists. There’s no real order in which you must play these games since every installment is but loosely tied to the others, providing you with plenty of engaging stories you can dive into. Pun intended.
3. Left 4 Dead 2
Few games handle co-op as well as Left 4 Dead 2 does. Making your way through a horde of zombies with up to three friends has never been this exhilarating, combining incredibly smooth shooting mechanics with horror-survival elements set in intricately designed levels.
Despite being released but a year after the original, Left 4 Dead 2 introduced plenty of new delights that made it an instant hit with fans, such as the addition of melee weapons and a couple of new Special Infected. Furthermore, the sequel included the entirety of the original game, which basically gives you two games for the price of one. Yes, we really do appreciate it, Valve!
If you’ve made it through its half dozen of campaign missions, there are plenty of reasons to return. Every playthrough of each level has slightly different spawn locations for items, meaning your pipe bomb restock may now provide you with a bottle of pain pills or an ammo heap may have been replaced with a pristine fire axe. This keeps its lengthy levels fresh and encourages thorough exploration even when you’ve played through it several times.
For us personally, it’s the wide variety of difficulty levels that make Left 4 Dead 2 timeless. Playing on a slightly higher difficulty will drastically change the way you play, maybe forcing you to rethink your tactics or properly talk the level through with some of your co-op buddies. The horror doesn’t exactly come from the gore that ensues what you slice a zombie in half with a katana or when one keeps charging towards you even though you’ve exposed its ribs with a shotgun blast, but rather from the fear of getting isolated from your teammates.
A single Special Infected can mess up your entire plan, be it a Smoker dragging one of your friends into a horde of zombies or a Hunter pinning you on the ground as it gnaws away at your face. The regular zombies are equally threatening however, and while one infected is easily dealt with, seeing a horde of undead sprinting towards you when your friends are in another room will make your heart skip more than a few beats.
It’s these tense moments scattered thick throughout Left 4 Dead 2 that make it one for the ages. Even when you’ve seen everything and memorized every little detail, there are still plenty of mods that can replace weapons, player skins, or add whole new levels altogether. The great thing here is that its modding community is showing no signs of slowing down, so free user-created content is bound to keep rolling in.
2. Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition
Hilarious monologues, memorable characters, tight shooter controls, tons of missions and bazillions of weapons make Borderlands 2 one of the greatest co-op shooters ever made. Farming loot and leveling your character may sound boring, but Borderlands 2 tackles its mechanics so well and places them in a unique and lovable setting that ensures hundreds of hours can be spent shooting monstrous insects in the kisser or stabbing bandits in the butt without it ever growing dull.
Despite the Pre-Sequel adding a bunch of interesting elements and truly amazing guns, it felt more like a spin-off than an actual Borderlands title with less memorable dialogue compared to the two previous installments. Borderlands 2 earns its place on this list since it marks a giant leap in the right direction compared to the original, building upon everything that made it great and adding features in a way that felt natural and logical.
While the base game offers plenty of content on its own, the relatively cheap Game of the Year edition includes all of Borderlands 2’s DLC, which adds even more playable classes, locations, weapons, missions and a bunch of other things to a game that’s already sprawling with things to do. If you’re looking to expand and enrich your Borderlands experience, we firmly believe the Borderlands 2 GOTY Edition is most definitely the ideal package for you.
Now, just do yourself a favor. Grab some friends, fire this baby up together and prepare yourself for an unparalleled co-op experience that will have you coming back periodically, even four years after its initial release. Few things say “I really appreciate our friendship” as well as showing off that one gun you looted after defeating a legendary boss and tea-bagging whenever your buddy glances in your general direction.
1. Half-Life series
Let’s face it: everyone who has ever played Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is still eagerly anticipating the series’ infamous third installment, even after almost a decade of mere rumors and speculation. The wait is almost agonizing because of how Half-Life 2‘s unsurpassed and incredibly engaging storytelling shaped the future of how first-person shooters have their stories unfolding, combined with its sleek shooter gameplay and the revolutionary use of physics by introducing the Gravity Gun.
All games in the franchise guide the player throughout its levels utilizing subtle hints to steer you into the right direction, either by having a light source illuminating a point of interest, a small audio cue grabbing your attention or a conflict steering you down a certain path. It feels as if you’re exploring its world and story at your own terms even though the entire route you must take has been carefully planned out, and therein lies the beauty and the art of Half-Life.
Every character from the mute Gordon Freeman to the unsettling G-Man bring a sense of mystery and wonder about them that still has fans speculating about their history and their role inside this universe to this day. Add to that the fact that Half-Life and Portal are set within the same world and you have players feverishly replaying all entries in both series in hopes to come across hints that may tie in to Half-Life’s impending third installment.
While Half-Life 2 with its two additional episodes may be the best first-person shooter ever made, the original Half-Life is what started this high octane adventure to begin with, introducing the world to the series’ uniquely captivating storytelling. By now, the 1999 original may be a bit dated, but its official Black Mesa remake brings the classic over to the Source 2 engine and brings the experience up to today’s standards for every crowd and generation to enjoy.
Honestly, there isn’t much to say about the Half-Life series that hasn’t already been said, making it hard to avoid words like “awesome,” “fun,” and dare I say “perfect” to describe it. Half-Life is a must-have in every player’s library, and well, you owe it to yourself to witness the legacy that kicked off the age of story-rich first-person shooters while keeping it fresh and innovative even by today’s demanding standards.