Format: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Oculus Quest
Time only moves when you move. That's the elevator pitch for Superhot, 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.
9. Apex Legends
Format: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and mobile
The battle royale for those that want to go faster. Your movement is as important as your aim in Apex Legends: you can parkour across roofs, shimmy up ledges, and slide down hills, scrabbling for positional advantage. The character classes and their abilities make Respawn’s shooter feel unique in the genre. One hero can see trails of enemy footsteps, another creates portals, and another can clone themselves to bamboozle their opponents.
In a squad of three, which is the way it was designed to be played, you can combine these abilities in inventive ways to outfox enemy teams. The two maps are bright and varied, with plenty of ways to help you take the high ground, and Respawn is constantly tweaking the formula with new weapons and heroes. If you haven’t played it since the early wave of enthusiasm, it’s time to return.
8. Black Mesa
It’s what you get when you take one of the most beloved shooters of all time, Half-Life, revamp the entire disastrous ending and add prettier visuals, more characters, bigger levels, punchier weapons, and proper physics. Black Mesa is fan-made (and Valve-approved), but you wouldn’t know it: every room is crafted with the kind of care you don’t see from many AAA teams. This is more than just a remake of a classic – it’s a complete overhaul that brings one of the greatest shooters ever, and one of the greatest protagonists, the silent scientist Gordon Freeman, into the modern era.
Everything you love about Half-Life remains. You’ll shoot headcrab zombies, alien monsters, and human soldiers with an array of weapons, from a beefy shotgun to the prototype energy Gluon Gun, which melts enemies in seconds. But it’s the new additions that stand out. In the original Half-Life, the Xen locale, the setting for the final portion of the game, was lifeless. Here, it’s bursting with color, and every craggy rock and bizarre clump of plants is rebuilt from scratch. It’s far bigger and feels like a completely different game. Half-Life is finally whole.
7. Titanfall 2
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Bloody brilliant, that’s what Titanfall 2 is. The weightlessness that comes with perfectly mastered wall-running makes you feel like you’re doing some sort of deadly ballet, letting you sail past your foes at impossible speeds, catching them unawares. The unforgettable BT-7274 and unbridled creativity dominate Titanfall 2’s campaign, whether it involves you switching between decades in the blink of an eye, walking through a moment frozen in time, or simply ripping other Titans apart when you step into BT-7274. Rewarding you for using the environment to your advantage, you can feel the moment when you start thinking differently, realizing the possibilities a map offers. Whispers of Quake-like, physics-twisting shenanigans in its multiplayer mode have emerged too. You can bunny-hop and strafe-boost to your heart’s content, plus grenades can catapult you to the other side of the map.
6. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Format: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, PC
Rainbow Six Siege has quietly become one of the best multiplayer shooters around, combining the intensity and replayability of Counter-Strike with the unique abilities and personality of Overwatch (albeit with a more grounded cast). The real star of Siege is the impressive destructibility of your environment: walls, floors, and ceilings can all be fired through and ultimately destroyed, so you need to smartly choose which flanks to cover and which walls to reinforce, lest someone blast through them with sizzling thermite.
You and your squadmates choose from a variety of highly skilled Operators, each with their own specialties that can complement each other for a rock-solid team comp, though your propensity for sneaking and aiming a gun are what matter most. Every round becomes a tactical, incredibly tense game of cat-and-mouse, as one team protects an objective while their opponents try to scout out danger and survive a breach.
5. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Format: Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, PC
The best FPS compilation of all time. Many Halo games could’ve made this list individually. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was a landmark moment for the genre, Halo 3’s multiplayer was unforgettable, while Halo Reach is arguably the closest any developer has come to a perfect shooter campaign. This collection, which bundles the best of the series together, is, therefore, a must-own.
On their own, Halo games mix tense multiplayer magic with wonderful story campaigns, which are as good solo as they are with a friend in co-op. The older titles are a slice of FPS history, with weapons and mechanics that hundreds of games have copied since, while the more modern games ooze class. When you mix them all up you get magic, and switching back and forth between eras to see how Bungie’s sensibilities have changed will never get old.
4. Half-Life: Alyx
Format: PC, compatible with all headsets that work with SteamVR
The latest (and perhaps greatest) entry in Valve’s flagship FPS series. Seemingly every object can be picked up and manipulated, and incidental animations, such as healing at an HP station, are a joy to behold. The puzzles make you think about the level around you in ways that a normal mouse and keyboard simply wouldn’t allow. One memorable example: to sneak past Jeff, a monster who can hear but can’t see, you’ll need to cover your mouth with your hand to stop yourself coughing as deadly spores fill the air.
It has all the things you expect from Half-Life, including an engrossing story and a remarkable ending, but the addition of VR takes it all to another level. The gunplay is tighter, and headshots are more satisfying to pull off, while dark corridors, lit only by a beam of light from your all-important multi-purpose glove, elicit genuine dread. It’s not just the best VR game ever made, it’s one of the best shooters of all time, and if you can find a headset for cheap, or borrow one from a friend, it’s worth it just to experience Alyx’s story.
3. Call of Duty: Warzone
Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One
What is it? The best battle royale. For a year, three games had a stranglehold on the genre: Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Apex Legends. But Call of Duty: Warzone has blown it wide open by twisting every element of battle royale into something that feels fresh, but still familiar – exciting, but accessible.
The new stuff: when you die, you get one shot to respawn by taking on another dead foe in a 1v1 fight. You get cash from completing contracts spread across the map, hunting down enemies, searching for chests, or defending an area. You can then spend that cash on loadouts, which you’ve designed between matches to suit your playstyle.
Then there are the old, comforting bits: the ever-shrinking play zone, a flawless “ping” system to flag items for your teammates, and vehicles to transport you to distant circles. It’s like the greatest hits of the genre so far, all backed by Call of Duty’s tried and tested low-recoil gunplay, which gives everybody a shot at racking up the kills. You can play it solo, but jumping in with friends in Duos, Trios, or even the chaotic four-soldier squad mode is where the real fun is found.
2. Destiny 2
Format: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One and PC
No one expected Destiny 2 to be as good as it is. And we really, really love Destiny. Instantly making the first game look like a set of prototypes, Destiny 2 improves in every area. Actually, scratch that. It evolves, taking the seed of the first game's MMOFPS idea and building a whole new, entirely richer, deeper, and broader experience around it. Now existing in a fully fleshed world, full of humanity, character, detail, and story, Destiny 2's campaign alone is enough to justify it. Entirely more curated, crafted, and built of great, in-the-moment narrative and set-piece design, it is a hell of a good Halo game.
But it's only the start. With a simplified, streamlined leveling system running through every one of Destiny 2's vastly expanded activities - from story-driven side-quests to spiraling, multi-part Exotic Questlines, to treasure hunting, to exploration, to in-world lore hunting, to the brilliantly creative new Strikes and puristic, tactically reworked Crucible PvP - every single thing you want to do, however, you want to play, will push you forward. And then there's the far more freeform approach to load-outs, further energized by more creative and expressive weapon design. Even better, with the dawn of Destiny 2 New Light, you can access a lot of the action for free.
1. Doom Eternal
Format: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
What is it? Doom is it. The pinnacle of FPS. Doom Eternal, the latest in the series, is everything that the genre is about, distilled into one, glorious, searing, defiant roar. It’s a force of will. An expression of creativity, speed of wits, and the ceaseless, yet thoughtful, discharge of really big, cool guns that make demons explode real good. No other game excels so completely in the arts of moment-to-moment, incendiary spectacle, and intricate, cat-and-mouse, environmental awareness. Its guns aren't just new ways of killing. Each is a multi-pronged key fitting a different situational lock, affixed to a different face of the whirling, ever-shifting Rubik’s Cube of Doom's none-more dynamic combat.
In many respects, it somehow manages to improve on 2016’s Doom, one of the titans of the genre and still worth playing in its own right. Ammo, health, and armor are in shorter supply, but you can pick them up from the writhing corpses of dead demons, provided you kill them in the right way (set a demon on fire with your “flame belch” and it will spew out armor when it draws its last, rasped breath). It doesn’t have 2016’s Doom SnapMap, a brilliant level design tool, but the multiplayer still harks back to the best of Quake’s lightning-fast arena brutality. If you need to give anyone a lesson in what FPS is all about, you will not find a better or more complete one than Doom Eternal.