Best FPS Games: the best first-person shooters you can play in 2021

The best FPS games are all killer, no filler

FPS games – or first-person shooters, if you prefer – have long been a staple in gaming. Whether you prefer to play on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, older-generation machines, or on PC, you’ll notice that a vast chunk of your back catalogue will place you in the boots of a hero, gun in hand, fending off wave-after-wave of blood-hungry enemies. There’s something very comforting in saving the world with hot lead and gunpowder, right?

So, if you’ve got an itchy trigger finger and need to know what the best FPS games are that can satiate your hunger for explosions and excitement, don’t worry. We’ve collected a selection of the very best shooters that you can download and play right now – and we’ve got something for every taste, whether you need to be on mouse and keys to get the full satisfaction of landing a headshot or if you prefer to feel the squeeze of a trigger in real-time on a pad.

So flick off the safety, slam another magazine of ammo into your favourite rifle and hunker down – we’re about to list the most essential games for any first-person shooter fanatic out there.

1. Escape From Tarkov

escape from tarkov

Do you like misery? Do you like skirmishes that require as much brainpower as gun skill? Escape From Tarkov is where all the finer, grittier details of the FPS genre meet. Battlestate Games opened up the hardcore survival-shooter as a beta back in 2017, and has been steadily updating the game with new features since.

Playing as either a PMC or BEAR operative, players are tasked with entering different zones of Tarkov – a fictional region in Russia – to complete missions, retrieve valuable loot and extract before the timer runs out. This means competing with other players and a host of NPC factions, and if you die in the raid you’ll lose everything you brought in with you.

What lands Escape from Tarkov on this list is the level of detail that goes into every single element of the beta. The game features an intricate weapons modding system where you can customize every element of your gun before taking it into a raid, while the in-depth ballistics system means you’ll need to consider your loadout down to the very bullet.

It can be a steep learning curve, but this attention to detail culminates in intense firefights that can cost you everything. There are few games that manage to make every second of combat feel consequential, but Escape From Tarkov ensures that you’ll never feel more alive as you fight to keep it that way.

2. Titanfall 2

Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2. Credit: Respawn Entertainment

Before the former Call of Duty devs at Respawn Entertainment surprised everyone with their extremely popular battle royale game Apex Legends, they tried breaking into the FPS space with Titanfall, a futuristic shooter in which players took control of highly acrobatic, wall-running pilots and their titans — gigantic combat mechs capable of stomping aforementioned pilots beneath their humongous heels. Titanfall was well-received, but the series really hit its stride when Titanfall 2 was released in 2016.

So how did the sequel to the 2014 sleeper hit become one of the best (and most underrated) FPS games of the previous generation? Simply put, it iterated on and refined what made the first game’s multiplayer unique — the frantic boots-on-the-ground (and walls) parkour action, and cool-as-hell giant robots dropping from orbit to beat the tar out of one another. At the time, it was difficult to find FPS games that weren’t boilerplate, modern military approximations a la Call of Duty, so Titanfall 2’s acrobatic, sci-fi spin on the genre truly felt like a breath of fresh air.

Titanfall 2 also featured a surprisingly fun and thoughtful single-player campaign. At its core, it’s a simple tale about a man and his relationship with his sentient war robot. While the story beats may not leave much of an impression, the exceptional level design certainly will. Not only is Effect and Cause one of the finest single-player FPS levels of all time, but the late game re-appearance of the Smart Pistol is also an excellent sequence and well worth your time.

3. Apex Legends

Apex Legends
Apex Legends. Credit: Respawn Entertainment

After a secretive development process, Respawn Entertainment and EA stealth-dropped Apex Legends into players’ laps back in 2019. EA intentionally avoided promoting the game so as not to draw the ire of Titanfall fans who were expecting the third title in the series, as well as gamers who were fed up with free-to-play, live-service titles full of loot boxes.

Ultimately they didn’t have too much to worry about, as Apex was a massive success. The Titanfall developers made some interesting additions to the typical battle royale formula, like the inclusion of hero characters with special abilities and unique personalities, an easy-to-use contextual “ping” communication system that simplifies playing with randoms, and the fast-paced, arcadey gunplay that made the Titanfall games so fun. And while you may not be able to run on walls, the movement system is intuitive, snappy, and reminiscent of Apex’s predecessors. If you want a battle royale experience that skews away from the realistic and you don’t feel like playing even more Fortnite, Apex is a great place to land.

4. Overwatch

Overwatch
Overwatch. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

The team-based hero shooter that “inspired” innumerable copycats, Overwatch stands above all of the imitators as the best of the bunch. It’s accessible while also being surprisingly complex, possesses more charm than a video game has any right to, has an extensive roster of truly memorable characters, and has plenty of interesting lore for those willing to seek it out.

Players battle in objective-based, six versus six matches. The attacking team is typically tasked with escorting an objective through a map, or capturing objectives — all while using the large cast’s expansive array of abilities to gain the upper hand.

Overwatch is easy to pick up and play and only has a few game modes to choose from, but the overall experience is so satisfying — particularly with a group of coordinated friends coming together to secure a win — that you could easily find yourself losing hundreds of hours to it.

5. Call Of Duty: Warzone

Call Of Duty: Warzone
Call Of Duty: Warzone. Credit: Activision Blizzard

Call of Duty’s second attempt at outshining its battle royale competitors came in the form of Warzone, a sequel of sorts to Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode. Warzone is the bigger and better of the two games in almost every way, with 150 player lobbies, a larger and more thoughtfully constructed map, an ultra-streamlined inventory management system, and a totally reworked armor system.

Contracts – mini-challenges that players can undertake during matches for cash – change up the typical battle royale gameplay loop you’ve come to expect, as does the introduction of an economy system that can see you buying back in teammates that have died, or calling in support in the shape of custom weaponry, a UAV or even airstrikes.

One of the most intriguing elements of Warzone is the Gulag — a prison players are sent to when killed. Once there, players compete in intense 1v1 matches, and the winner is respawned back in Verdansk. Add in the familiar Call of Duty gunplay and a substantial weapon customization system, and Warzone stands out as one of the most polished and fully-realised battle royale experiences available today.

6. Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4
Battlefield 4. Credit: EA DICE

It isn’t the most recent title in the long-running Battlefield series, but Battlefield 4 is regarded by many fans as the best modern iteration available. Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V all brought new and interesting ideas to the series — cops and robbers, a rare and surprising take on WW1, and a controversial return to WW2, respectively — but they failed to capture the elusive combination of spectacularly fun destruction, impressively tight gunplay, extensive weapon customization, and the wide array of land, air, and sea vehicles that results in the “only in Battlefield” moments the series is famous for.

Players familiar with newer installments may miss some absent quality-of-life changes such as vaulting over high walls or reviving fallen squadmates, but those omissions do little to detract from the fact that Battlefield 4 is the best large-scale, team-based FPS game on the market with remote-controlled blowtorch robots you can use to kill your enemies.

7. DOOM Eternal

Doom Eternal
Doom Eternal. Credit: id Software

If id software’s DOOM 2016 was meant to make players feel like an unstoppable force ripping and tearing through throngs of demonic hellspawn, DOOM Eternal’s M.O. is channeling that carnage into a laser-focused flow chart of surgical death-dealing.

Series favorite weapons like the super shotgun, the chaingun, and the rocket launcher all return — but instead of being simply different means to kill demons, each weapon in DOOM Eternal is designed to be very good at one or two specific things. For example, the super shotgun can be upgraded with a grappling hook attachment to close the gap between the player and enemies, while the heavy cannon can be used to pick away at distant enemies or weak points found on bigger baddies. This “tool for every job” approach combined with the need to constantly refill health and ammo reserves through the brutal glory kill melee system and chainsaw attacks means that players will have to constantly make split-second decisions about the best way to approach each scenario. You won’t be using your favorite weapon for long stretches of time, but that’s just part of the grisly appeal.

It would be a huge oversight to talk about either of the modern DOOM games without mentioning the disgustingly heavy, djent, industrial, and thrash-inspired soundtracks found in both. Even the most benign players will have difficulty keeping their heads from banging during the tracks that exude pure violence in the games’ combat-heavy arena sections.

The combination of the frenetic gameplay, exaggerated violence, and the extremely brutal soundtrack makes DOOM Eternal a sinfully good time, and well worth the play.

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