15. Battlefield 3
Release date: October 25, 2011
Format: Xbox One (backwards compatible), PC
What is it? The games in DICE’s venerable franchise have gone to many places and time periods, but is the most exhilarating of the modern day games. Playing host to some of the most beautifully designed multiplayer maps ever, there’s nothing quite like throwing yourself into the cacophony of grenades trying to storm the subway station during a Rush match on Metro. The grand vistas of Caspian Border set a dramatic backdrop for players to test their skills in a jet cockpit or behind the wheel of a lumbering tank. Deathmatch on Noshahr Canals is a quintessential test of quick thinking and quick hands. And the Close Quarters DLC maps may have shrunk the size, but the intensity of defending control points in Ziba Tower is unmatched.
Best for: Ignore the decidedly lackluster campaign and jump right into a multiplayer server. Just remember that those graphics were cutting edge back in the day. Anna Washenko
Release date: February 25, 2016 (PC) / 3 May, 2016 (Xbox One)
Format: PC, Xbox One
What is it? Time only moves when you move. That's the elevator pitch for , a cerebral shooter from a small, independent studio out of Poland, and it's a perfect distillation for what makes Superhot so intoxicating. Trapped inside a series of minimalist representations of office buildings, elevators, and restaurants, you'll scour rooms for guns and improvised weapons to defeat waves of red, crystalline enemies - but as long as you stand still, you'll have plenty of time to plan your next move.
This turns a typically twitch-based genre into a far more contemplative puzzler built around the improvised chaos of a stylized, cinematic action sequence. An enemy fires his gun and you dodge the oncoming bullets, watching the red trails whizz you by. You pick up a nearby ashtray and chuck it at his head, stepping forward so time allows it to travel through the air. You snag his gun as it flies out of his hands and shoot him in the stomach, his body exploding into a thousand glorious pieces - but another guy comes around a blind corner and smacks you with a bat, forcing you to start over. Figuring out each level's interlocking pieces is thrilling; watching your run play out in real-time like some kind of John Wick-inspired demon is downright euphoric.
Best for: When you want to play a game that makes you feel like you're in The Matrix without having to bust out your leather duster and wraparound shades. David Roberts
13. Metro: Last Light
Release date: May 14, 2013
Format: PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
What is it? A stealthy, crunchy shooter that mixes great combat with horror and supernatural elements, manages to create a vibe all of its own. Its retro-apocalypse styling is a grittier, more desperate take on Fallout as Russian survivors of a nuclear war scrape out a living in Metro tunnels. That set up means a range of inventive and fun weapons like pneumatic rifles and semi-homemade machine guns. Giving the combat a hard edge, expect to be rewarded for being strategic when it comes to wise weapon choices. It also does really good stealth as you creep around perimeters popping lightbulbs with silenced weapons to create pools of darkness to hunt in. Great scares await you too, with a mix of mutant monsters and ghost-filled flashbacks where the spirits of those who died let you know just how unhappy they are about it.
Best for: When you want an atmospheric, singleplayer shooter that’s a bit ‘Call of Silent Hill’. Leon Hurley
12. Halo: Reach
Release date: September 14, 2010
Format: Xbox One (backwards compatible)
What is it? is a pre-packaged tragedy. We already know that the Covenant ravage the planet Reach and the UNSC outpost there. We know that the desperate struggle to survive there directly leads into the many misadventures of the Spartan known hilariously as Master Chief. Before the spinoff to the Xbox’s signature series came out, it was also known that this would be the last Halo created by Bungie Studios. Knowing all these things before playing this excellent shooter is no preparation for how stirring it actually is in practice. While Halo Reach couldn’t foster the same sort of powerful multiplayer community as Halo 3, it did perfect the Halo story campaign. Trading the experimental structure of ODST for the set piece design of the original trilogy, Reach is the best expression of Bungie’s knack for making complicated shooting galleries. Every new stage in Reach feels dynamic, asking you to adapt to swiftly changing circumstances and ordinance while maintaining an air of drama but never succumbing to the tedium that inevitably crept into Master Chief’s adventures. The game was so damn good it was impossible not to get choked up at the ending, even when you knew it was coming.
Best for: The Halo fan who wants the perfect campaign for either single-player or co-op. Yes, honestly. Anthony John Agnello
11. Left 4 Dead 2
Release date: November 17, 2009
Format: Xbox One (backwards compatible), PC
What is it? Bonding usually calls for either beer or a mutual dislike of something, but who needs those when is around? Valve’s zombie-ridden game relentlessly punishes those who shrug off their comrades’ assistance. No heroes (*cough* overconfident buffoons *cough*) here: voyage on ahead or get left behind, if you go it alone you’ll definitely meet a bloody end. What zombies lack in fortitude they make up for in numbers, but special infected ensure you never let your guard down, as it takes only one overlooked Smoker to knock your entire team for six. The Versus mode turns the tables by letting you deviously play as the special infected, disrupting the survivors’ efforts to escape whilst giving you insight into exactly how these major infected function. Which, incidentally, plays perfectly into your future sessions as the survivors. Brilliantly crafted, Left 4 Dead 2 is a drop-dead simple concept, executed perfectly.
Best for: Multiplayer, hands-down. Slay zombies with friends and the occasional AI, and get ready to scream out each type of special infected when you hear their telltale musical cue. Zoe Delahunty-Light
10. Wolfenstein: The New Order
Release date: May 20, 2014
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One
What is it? Wolfenstein gets it. understands the core appeal of FPS. It understands why the genre matters, and how vital it is, both intellectually and on a pure, instinctive level. Wolfenstein knows that the soul of FPS lives where ludicrously high-powered weaponry meets speed, ferocity, and tactical smarts. And so it loads you up with some of the biggest, most gratifying guns in the genre's history, points you at an enemy that undeniably deserves punishing, and lets you go. And dear God, is it clever about the way it goes about it.
There's the high-risk, high-reward combat model, where cover will help, but cowering is suicide. There's the facility for open-ended stealth, not so much to sneak past, as to strategically explore and set the right conditions for victory before you unleash Hell. And then there's the narrative, and sumptuously detailed world-building, which manage to infuse the comic book action with real humanity and genuinely affecting pathos, ensuring that you never, ever forget why you're pasting those fascists against the wall.
Best for: When you absolutely, positively have to kill every piece-of-human-excrement in the room, but want to be smart about it, and go on a heartfelt emotional journey at the same time. David Houghton
Release date: February 22, 2011
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One (latter two via upcoming Full Clip Edition remaster)
What is it? Never has a game so intelligent tried so hard to look like an idiot, or been so screamingly funny with it. On 's surface, you'll find a brash, knowing, don't-give-a-fuck attitude, sitting on a layer of the most gloriously creative cursing you've ever heard in a video game. Beneath, you'll find one of the densest, most detailed, widest branching FPS systems ever devised.
It's the Skillshots that do it. A vast, stacking, interconnecting roster of named killing methods (which cover everything from shooting an enemy in the balls to lassoing him and then kicking him into a murderous plant), that can be comboed near-endlessly, to create gloriously brutal takedowns. Extravagant kills mean more points, and more points mean more ammo to kill with. But more than anything, it's all a hilariously gratifying, ceaselessly rewarding, creative challenge in itself. You really don't know how fun a shooter can be until you've whipped a goon into the air, shot him up the ass, and then slid underneath to knock him out of the air with a shotgun, raining whatever's left upon the spikes below.
Best for: When you want to get creative with your destruction. It's basically like playing with Lego, only the bricks are brutal killings. David Houghton
8. Battlefield 1
Release date: October 21, 2016
Format: Xbox One, PS4, PC
What is it? is a WW1 shooter that showcases a terrifying amount of carnage. It’s got all the familiar BF modes that we’ve grown to love, including Conquest, Rush, and Domination, but this game adds the formidable Operations mode that takes the push and pull of war to new heights. This game works so well as a multiplayer shooter because of how finely it’s balanced - there’s no class, weapon, or tactic that gives an unfair advantage over others. By their very nature, WW1 weapons lack true precision, and make up for this via brute force and close-quarters effectiveness, so this really levels the playing field online. The maps are brilliant too, and they constantly change as the bombardment of explosives and ruined vehicles scar the landscape. Single-player is pretty enjoyable too, with the emotional war stories giving a sampler of the various fronts WW1 took place on. Overall, it’s an immense package.
Best for: Multiplayer. This is one of the best online experiences you can have on a console - fast, chaotic, varied and yet extremely well balanced and very, very replayable. Andy Hartup
7. Halo 3
Release date: September 25, 2007
Format: Xbox One (backwards compatible)
What is it? Without question, Halo’s finest multiplayer hour. Reach might have the best campaign, but three trusted friends and a copy of will last you a lifetime. From the taught challenge of 2v2 Team Slayer on Blackout, to the sprawling, multi-disciplinary test of 4v4 Last Resort, every game of Halo 3 has moments of singular brilliance you’ll remember long after the match has finished. The maps are immaculate, full of cunning blindspots and brilliantly-plotted flashpoints. Every melee hit has an crunching urgency that makes the swaggering takedowns of Halo 5 seem laughably superfluous. And few things in gaming satisfy like slicing up enemy vehicles with the SPARTAN laser, or a surprise triple kill with a shotgun. The best first-person shooters are all about feel, and Halo never felt better than this. Whether you’re online in the Master Chief Collection, or connecting two 360s for a LAN party, Halo 3 is the most fun you can have without taking your Kevlar off.
Best for: Playing the same eight amazing multiplayer maps over and over again, and still finding astounding, exciting new things ten years later. Matt Elliott
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
Release date: November 4, 2016
Format: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
What is it? Arguably the shooter that inspired almost every other game on this list. Call of Duty was doing well enough for its first three World War 2-inspired games, but it was the jump to modern times that started its growth towards global domination. Putting present day weapons into ’s well-tuned shooting mechanics created a devastatingly lethal shooter, with bursts of gunfire dropping enemies with brutal efficiency. However, it was the story and characters that really gave this its impact. It might not be quite what you’d expect from a big manly shooter, but Captain Price and crew were relatable and human. The fact you cared about them, and what happened to them, elevated this above just shooting until everyone’s dead. And then there’s the multiplayer which, ten years ago, set a template that CoD (and plenty of other games) are still using today.
Best for: Seeing just how well a shooter can create a military-focused story without descending into cliché and grunting pantomime stereotypes. Leon Hurley
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