My opinion of first-person shooters seems to furrow a lot of brows. As a general statement, I like them, but I also think that most of them really suck. In short, the genre deserves better—a lot better—than much of what has topped the charts in the last five to ten years. There’s a lot of repetitive, derivative crap out there, so for this list, I’ve prioritized first-person shooters that do something to stand out from the crowd.
Whether they feature unique and interesting mechanics, a well-executed blend of different genres, or an active modding community that makes the game even better, most of the shooters that made the cut make heartfelt attempts to create something new, and that kind of risk-taking deserves respect. The few that don’t really break new ground at least dramatically improve on an older formula.
Without further ado, here’s Game Gavel’s roundup of ten of the best first-person shooters of all time. 🔫 🎮
#1 Best Horror Shooter: Metro 2033
Slow-paced horror games have never been very popular (at least compared to most other genres), and that’s sad. Action-horror games are all well and good, but almost without exception, the action tends to drown out the horror in relatively short order. Metro 2033 punctuates long stretches of quiet exploration with short bursts of panic and does a great job of actually limiting the player’s resources.
This is where Metro 2033 really shines. Most horror-shooters don’t seem to realize that even the gooiest monsters aren’t that scary when you’re carrying three times your body weight in weapons and ammo.
When you start up Metro 2033, the first screen you see is a short paragraph telling you that the game is meant to be played on Ranger Mode, the hallmarks of which are extreme ammo shortages, reduced health, and no HUD. If you want to see how much ammo you have, you can use your own eyeballs to count the rounds in your magazine, and if you want to know what’s in your backpack, you have to put your gun down and look in there.
Most of the monsters (and some of the humans) in Metro 2033 are a lot stronger than you are, so to survive, you’ll need to avoid them whenever possible. When combat is unavoidable, you’ll have to be patient and clever; splitting up large groups of enemies so you can take them on one or two at a time is the surest path to victory.
And on Ranger and Ranger Hardcore modes, you can only carry a few mags of ammo, so you’ll need to be extra conservative about using it.
Metro 2033 came out in 2010, but it still looks pretty darn good today, especially the Redux version. Most of the game takes place in pitch-black tunnels that you’ll need antiquated flashlights and rusty night-vision goggles to navigate. Its general aesthetic tone conveys a situation that’s almost, but not quite hopeless; the (sometimes literal) light at the end of the tunnel is just bright enough to keep you pushing forward.
All in all, even though Metro 2033 is nearly a decade old, it’s still prettier than some games coming out in 2020.
Metro 2033 takes place a number of years after a nuclear World War III. Most of the survivors in and around Russia have been driven underground, into the vast network of metro tunnels, where they’ve slowly begun to rebuild some sort of organized society. Oh, there are wolf-like monsters, gargoyles, and “aliens,” too.
I think that the writers got some important philosophical points dead wrong in Metro 2033, but that’s not to say the story isn’t interesting—it most definitely is. The human characters have a wide variety of motives and personalities, and the monsters aren’t quite what they seem at first, either. It’s not the best video game story ever written, but it’s 100% worth playing at least once.
Metro 2033 is a strictly single-player game.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
Metro 2033 and its first sequel, Metro: Last Light, have both occupied various positions on my personal “Top 20 Horror Games” list since they came out. You should definitely pick them up if you like shooters and outstanding horror games—particularly if you like the idea of a cautious, deliberate, thoughtful shooter.
#2 Best Open-World Coop Shooter: Dying Light
Ok, calling Dying Light a first-person shooter may be a slight misnomer because you don’t actually find a gun until 10 or 20 hours into the game (unless you know the one and only spot on the map where a pistol is guaranteed to spawn). Once you get your character about halfway to max level, though, you’ll start finding guns everywhere, and a firearm-centric build becomes totally feasible at that point.
The game is fun solo, but it’s really fun with a friend or three.
Imagine first-person parkour that flows surprisingly well combined with zombie-slaying melee combat that doesn’t. If you can tolerate the latter in the name of the former for a little while, Dying Light becomes a much better game once you’re able to just start shooting everything. (Ignore the game’s constant warnings about it being a bad idea to focus too much on guns, it’s totally not.)
The primary world map is enormous, and if you purchase “The Following” DLC, the new map for that area is almost as big. There’s a gigantic number of quests, a day-night cycle with interesting mechanical ramifications, and a decently flexible character progression system.
If I had to summarize the game in a single word, it would be “satisfying.” Mastering the parkour abilities to effectively weaponize agility is so, so much fun, especially once you basically become Christian Bale from Equilibrium.
Dying Light is what I would call an average-looking game in terms of character models and animations. Watching other players perform parkour maneuvers is… amusing, to say the least. The game’s environmental art really shines, though.
Dilapidated ghettos, remote farms, and lush wilderness areas are all crafted with care. And there’s none of that “copy and paste the same neighborhood fifteen times” nonsense that some tremendous open-world games resort to. Every last building is unique, as far as I can tell.
This isn’t the kind of game you play for the story. It’s a zombie game. The basic formula is the same as it is everywhere else: zombies exist, there are vaccines and rumors of a cure, but there are also bad humans who control the supplies of both for basically no reason at all. There are some minor twists, but the essential formula has been done a trillion times.
Don’t play Dying Light because you want a captivating narrative. Play it because the 4-pack was on sale and you and three friends all have 100+ hours to kill.
You can play Dying Light by yourself, but it’s meant to be played with friends. My best friend and I maxed out our parkour and unarmed combat skill trees, then kick-flipped and kung-fu’d our way across The Bridge, knocking every last zombie into the ocean as we went. (You’ll understand how truly ridiculous The Bridge is when you play the game.) We weren’t even carrying any weapons. It took two solid hours. It was an absolute blast.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
Dying Light frequently goes on sale (on Steam, at least), so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for one. Still, it’s such a fun coop game that I’d even recommend a full-price purchase if you don’t want to wait.
#3 Best FPS That’s Only Technically an FPS: Mirror’s Edge
Mirror’s Edge is an admittedly weird entry on this list for two reasons: it’s only about 25% shooter, and the sequel (Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst) is a better game, but it can’t be included here because it’s 0% shooter. Even so, the first game took some massive risks and largely succeeded as a game, if not financially.
Let’s be real for a minute. There is gunplay in Mirror’s Edge, but it’s mostly awful. It’s clunky, and it distracts you from both of the game’s strongest and most important elements: the parkour and the story.
The main reason I put Mirror’s Edge on this list is that it’s an excellent, creative, unique, and fun game that succeeds in spite of—rather than because of—its shooting mechanics.
There is one bit of praise I have for its weapon-heavy segments: at least sometimes, you’re encouraged to acrobatically shoot n’ scoot rather than hunker down in cover, which occasionally makes for thrilling, fast-paced firefights that jive more naturally with the game’s overall imperative of constantly being in motion.
Without question, Mirror’s Edge is at its best when you’re unarmed. Once you get used to the initially strange control scheme, you’ll be leaping between skyscrapers (and jump-kicking dudes off of them) in no time.
Within half an hour of first starting Mirror’s Edge, you’ll undoubtedly notice that 75% of the world is either red or white. It’s a jarring color scheme at first, but it serves an important gameplay purpose.
If you get lost, always look for red doors, pipes, and surfaces. It’s a simple, elegant, and far less intrusive version of the holographic waypoints we’re so used to nowadays.
The game came out in 2008, so it’s starting to show its age in the graphics department, but its crisp, angled environments are still distinct and nice to look at.
The world of Mirror’s Edge is near-future authoritarian dystopia that seems a little more plausible in the real world every day. Virtually all forms of electronic communication can be intercepted by the government, so employing “runners”—people that physically carry handwritten messages—is often the most reliable way to keep sensitive information out of Big Brother’s hands.
It’s a fairly standard 1984-type story, although the game isn’t long enough to set up a deep and intriguing plot. There are a few twists and turns that make for an overall enjoyable narrative, but the primary draw here is the gameplay.
Mirror’s Edge is a single-player game. You can compete for a spot on global leaderboards in certain challenge maps, but there’s no direct interaction with other players.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
If you’ve never played Mirror’s Edge before, I think you’ll maximize your enjoyment the first time through if you know what to expect in terms of the shooting segments. Basically, don’t shoot anyone unless you have to (you’ll know when you have to). Stay unencumbered and mobile whenever possible. That way, when you do have to trade lead with enemies, the experience won’t be quite such a slog.
#4 Best Hyper-Violent Twitch Shooter: DOOM 2016
DOOM has always been a simple franchise, and sometimes, simplicity is the shortest path to elegance. Not in this case, though. There’s nothing elegant about DOOM, you’re just blasting demons nonstop. That’s why it’s so fun.
DOOM’s core formula hasn’t changed much since it pretty much invented first-person shooters back in 1993. The full list of actions you can take is: move, open doors, flick switches, and shoot things in the face. DOOM 2016 adds a few modern conveniences like grenades and armor upgrades that grant minor abilities, but it’s still basically the same game it’s always been.
That simplicity is part of why the newest entry is such an appealing shooter. It focuses on the essentials and doesn’t feel the need to distract you with endless random sidequests or 25,000 collectibles. Hell, you don’t even have to reload. If you have 167 shotgun shells, then they’re all in your shotgun. Stop asking questions.
The end result is a fast-paced thrill ride where any and all considerations are secondary to momentum (like Mirror’s Edge, but with a lot more firearm-induced tinnitus). If you need a break from the action, you can stop and chill in an area you’ve already cleared, but as long as you’re moving toward an objective, expect fierce resistance.
The first word that comes to mind to describe DOOM 2016’s visuals is “smooth.” Many environments are made of glass and polished steel, and even your guns are more round than square. Aiming is buttery and precise, and in terms of the frame rate, the game somehow feels silkier than most others—provided you’ve got the hardware to keep it above 60 on high settings.
I mean. It’s DOOM. You didn’t come here to be swept away by the story. You’re a badass space marine cyborg and there are demons all over Mars because some scientists did some science stuff they probably shouldn’t have done. The end. Go shoot something.
DOOM 2016 has a fairly bare-bones multiplayer component that consists of six standard PvP game modes, such as Deathmatch and King of the Hill. The multiplayer scene was never very hot even when the game was brand new, and it’s pretty much a ghost town nowadays.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
There’s a lot to be said for doing one thing and doing it well. There are no fetch quests or loot crates in DOOM 2016, just a ton of gunfire and an occasional locked door that some dead guy nearby has the key to. There are skill trees, but they’re super simple. If you just want to test your reflexes and tear some demons’ arms off, this is the game for you.
#5 Best Old-School Couch Coop: Halo 3
Wait, Halo 3 is twelve years old? Seems like once a game hits ten, you can call it “retro,” which upsets me mostly because it makes me acutely aware of how fast I’m getting old. It seems like just yesterday that I was having 48-hour Halo 3 marathons with three friends, ethernet cables crisscrossed all over the floor posing a fatal tripping hazard to anyone who walked by. Ahh, good times.
Multiple game modes, gameplay recording and replay features, and custom map editors are all pretty standard fare for first-person shooters in 2020, but Halo created a lot of that stuff. Most of the things it didn’t create were still fairly new at the time, and it improved on many of them significantly.
Halo 3 has aged surprisingly well—it’s still perfectly playable over a decade after its release. Aiming feels a bit slow to me unless the sensitivity is turned way up, but otherwise, it’s a crisp, responsive shooter. Vehicle controls, in particular, are still smoother than they are in most modern games.
Halo 3 doesn’t look its age. Graphically, it’s definitely not on par with Horizon Zero Dawn or anything, but if it were released today as a $30 high-end indie game, nobody would bat an eye. Every one of its multiplayer maps has its own unique aesthetic, although some areas get a little samey during the campaign missions. Weapons and vehicle designs are still cool, too. I didn’t fully realize in 2007 how well Halo 3 would withstand the test of time.
Halo is one of those franchises that has an almost mind-boggling amount of lore, but most of it is found in comics, books, and movies. All you really need to know if you’ve never played the games before is that you’re a seven-foot, 800-pound cyborg tasked with fighting off hostile aliens who are convinced that a weapon of mass galactic destruction is a religious artifact. If they take control of it, it’ll be bad news for everyone, so make sure to shoot every last one of them.
The game’s campaign mode is long and satisfying, especially with friends along for the ride, but the innovative local PvP modes are really what made it special back in the day. (This coming from a guy who loathes PvP almost without exception.) Halo 3’s Forge mode allows you to slowly and clunkily build custom maps and kill your friends on them, and you used to be able to post the video in Bungie’s community hub.
You can start from scratch with an empty map or modify existing ones, but sadly, you can no longer download maps made by others. The game is, quite simply, a blast.
You haven’t really lived until you’ve beaten your friends in a Calvinball-esque game that involves using gravity hammers to bat humongous soccer balls between the turbines on Last Resort—without being allowed to touch the ground. I can’t think of a modern shooter that allows for that level of open-ended creativity, even in custom maps.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
I own about 50 Xbox 360 games, but Halo 3 is one of only two that I still play with some regularity. The Forge utility remains one of the best map builders of all time. If you’ve got three friends (or even just one), a working Xbox 360, and a couch, you owe it to yourself to give Halo 3 a try.
#6 Best Tactical Shooter: Rainbow Six Siege
Ubisoft is a mixed bag in the video game world if ever there was one. They’ve made so many games, and they’re split almost exactly 50/50 between being excellent and being just godawful. Rainbow Six Siege isn’t perfect, but it’s surely one of their better products.
I really like Rainbow Six Siege (but it definitely loses a full two points for its ridiculous microtransactions). That means that I would award the game a score of 9/10 if they were gone. Bear in mind that I generally hate PvP, so a competitive online game has to really impress me to even score above a 4.
The thing I love most about this game is that communication, coordinated teamwork, and patience are all flat-out mandatory. You’ll rarely see screaming preteens flailing around mindlessly and ruining the whole mission because that behavior is heavily penalized by the game itself. If you don’t take your time to plan and act carefully, you will simply never be successful.
Much like many other PvP military shooters, Rainbow Six Siege pits cops against bad guys in 5v5 timed matches that revolve around one of several objectives. Generally, the attacking team will have one and only one shot to plan and execute a successful assault.
The defenders more or less get to sit around and wait for it, doing their best to cover what they think are the most likely entry points. Combat is highly lethal and you can soak two, maybe three shots at best.
Rainbow Six Siege is an average or slightly above-average game in terms of looks. Many textures are undecorated and rather plain; I don’t really know why. If I had to guess, I would say that maybe it’s because the developers wanted to optimize response and reaction times as much as possible, since the outcome of a match is so heavily dictated by players’ reflexes.
The tutorial missions, which are short and few in number, have a very loose narrative. All they establish is that there’s a terrorist group called the White Masks and you’re a new recruit in training to take them on. Then you go on to do that in PvP. A Hugo novel this is not.
Other than bare-bones tutorials, Rainbow Six Siege’s main PvP mode has no single-player elements and can only be played online. However, the Terrorist Hunt PvE mode from previous Rainbow Six games returns and can be played solo or with up to four friends.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
In my view, Rainbow Six Siege doesn’t have as much replayability as Killing Floor 2 or Borderlands 2, and its $80 option to instantly unlock content that can mostly be obtained through normal gameplay is downright absurd. Those two things aside, it’s a fun and well-balanced cooperative tactical shooter. Do yourself a favor and start with the $20 base game before you dump too much money into it.
#7 Best FPS-RPG Hybrid: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. could be described as a less accessible, infinitely more Russian version of Fallout. It’s slower, darker, weirder, and much more difficult. Little about the game will make sense to newcomers, at least at first. But if you’re willing to dive in blind and flounder around for a while, you’ll slowly start to piece together both its mechanics and its fascinating lore.
Imagine that Fallout, Diablo, and Metro had a baby. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. combines some of the best (and worst) elements of all three franchises to create a challenging RPG-FPS hybrid in which inventory management, stealth, and patience are key to success.
In the game’s universe, Stalkers are people who bravely (or perhaps foolishly) scavenge for useful artifacts and technology in the highly irradiated zone around Chernobyl. Oh, and, the area is haunted, too.
Part survival horror, part role-playing game, and part first-person shooter, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. juggles a lot of different things and largely succeeds at all of them. It’s not for the impatient, though. Running in guns blazing will get you nothing but a game over screen. Heck, you’ll die a lot even if you are super cautious. There’s a lot to learn about the game world, and its myriad threats aren’t always obvious.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. came out in 2007, but even by the standards of that era, it’s… kind of ugly. Its blocky models and clunky animations are understandable, though; the world map is huge and enemy AI is terrifyingly smart at times, so the developers must have had to save resources somehow. As if the game weren’t already unappealing enough to some newcomers, it’s also riddled with bugs.
However, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has a passionate modding community that has done wonders to fix a lot of those problems. The hugely popular Misery mod, in particular, makes the game look better and run smoother. By default, it cranks the already unforgiving difficulty up even higher, but you can select “Rookie Mode” during installation to make it much more forgiving than vanilla.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. does have a moderately intricate story, but it unravels very slowly and it’s hard to reveal too much of it without spoiling important things. Here are the basics: in its timeline, the cheaply and hastily built Chernobyl reactor exploded not once, but twice. The second meltdown somehow caused the surrounding area to become infested with paranormal phenomena.
There’s a ton of valuable experimental military equipment in there, so some people go looking for it, despite the enormous danger. You play as one such Stalker. You’ll need to contend with several hostile human factions, ghosts, and semi-sentient, highly lethal balls of wandering lightning. Enjoy.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has no multiplayer component.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
If you can handle the punishing difficulty of Dark Souls, you might like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. That’s not to say that the latter is necessarily more difficult, rather that the way in which it’s difficult is different. Dark Souls is all about trial and error. So is S.T.A.L.K.E.R., to an extent, but it’s highly random in many ways, so past experience won’t always be relevant.
Related: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Games in Order
What’s more, it’s possible (though not easy) to completely screw yourself—for instance, by wandering too deep into the woods without enough supplies to get back and being unable to reload a previous save. The name of the game is patience, for sure. If you can take it slow and leapfrog through many different save files, you’ll have a great time enjoying one of the greatest survival games out there.
#8 Most Fun Multiplayer FPS: Borderlands 2
The Borderlands 2 multiplayer lobbies are still showing amazing levels of activity, considering the game is now seven years old. Not all of that activity can be explained by the recent announcement of Borderlands 3, either—I’ve been playing 2 on and off since it released and I’ve never had trouble finding teammates. It’s not as big as Killing Floor 2 in terms of the number of active players, but you can almost always find someone to group up with.
Borderlands was an early adopter of the “loot shooter” genre label and was largely responsible for popularizing it. The core gameplay structure is simple: shoot a dude in the face and he’ll likely drop a gun that’s very similar to the one you just shot him with. Then you stand there slackjawed for eight solid minutes, comparing stats between the two weapons, all while ignoring your teammates’ cries for help as they get shot to death because combat isn’t over, you dolt.
The main quest is long and there are plenty of interesting side jobs. Plus, you have to beat the game at least three times, unlocking a new difficulty level each time, to come within reach of the best loot. Four large expansions and a whole bunch of smaller ones add an impressive amount of content to an already large game, and all of it is a total blast to play over and over with friends.
Borderlands 2 employs a cel-shading aesthetic that cosplayers have replicated with impressive accuracy in real life. Originally, the first Borderlands was to be a dark, hyper-realistic, Mad Max-style post-apocalypse shooter. I think that whoever decided to go a different direction made the right call.
The game never for one second takes itself seriously, and the bright color palette—reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons in the 90s—serves as a subconscious visual reminder that you shouldn’t either.
Every so often, rare individuals known as Vault Hunters are drawn to the planet Pandora by rumors of ancient treasure. Team up with friends to find it, and be ready to murder like a million bandits in the process.
Borderlands 2 would have been less successful without its absolutely hilarious writing. 12- and 30-year olds alike love its precise mixture of fart jokes, slightly more sophisticated pop culture references, and deadpan sarcasm, almost all of which are delivered with expert timing.
You can certainly play Borderlands 2 by yourself, but you’d be missing out. There are six characters to choose from, each with three unique skill trees that you can mix and match as you see fit. Certain characters synergize extremely well together, and for some difficult endgame content, a diverse and balanced party of four is essentially mandatory.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
If I could only play one online coop game for the rest of my days, it would probably be this one. Most games get old eventually, but I have yet to get so tired of Borderlands 2 that I never want to play it again.
#9 Best Coop FPS That Lots of People are Still Playing: Killing Floor 2
Killing Floor 2 left early access in 2016, and there have been regular meaty updates ever since. One of the most important things about a first-person shooter is how the guns feel, and this one nails its weapons. Well-balanced, impactful, and true to their real-life counterparts (where applicable), the wide variety of awesome guns is arguably the main reason to play the game.
For most of its life, Killing Floor 2 only had two game modes: Survival and Endless. Survival mode pits 1-6 players against four, seven, or ten waves of Zeds (which actually aren’t zombies, thankfully), followed by one of four bosses. Endless mode is exactly what it sounds like—survive as long as you can.
However, a brand new Objective mode went live just a few days before this article did. Currently, there are six distinct objective-based modes to choose from, as well as a developer toolkit that players can crack open to make their own missions.
There are ten perks (i.e. classes) to choose from, ranging from standard options like Support and Sharpshooter (Shotgun Dude and Sniper Dude, respectively) to less conventional classes that are a bit harder to master, like Firebug and Survivalist. Each perk has 25 levels, with a new ability every 5 levels, and can be prestiged multiple times.
Yes, Killing Floor 2 is a fairly repetitive game, but nonetheless, it’s really fun. It’s one of those games that you play obsessively for a month or two, give it a rest for a while, and come back to play it obsessively again when the next major update rolls out.
Killing Floor 2 is a gorgeous game, especially given the relatively small size of the team that made it. It was one of the first games to take advantage of NVIDIA’s Physx Flex technology, which can render fluids and giblets with next-level realism. There’s an option in the game’s video settings to enable ultra-realistic blood physics that, when you turn it on, politely warns you that you’d better have a beefy GPU.
Many textures are a bit on the boxy side and the character animations could use some polishing, but enemies, lighting, and weapon textures and animations all look great. Graphically, Killing Floor 2 gets a B+, at the very least.
There isn’t one. Some evil geniuses turned a bunch of people into monsters because reasons and you gotta go clean up the mess.
Unlike most of the other games on this page, Killing Floor 2 is almost exclusively a multiplayer game. You can play any map or mode by yourself, but if you aim to one day conquer Hell on Earth—the game’s highest difficulty setting—you’ll probably need some help.
Also, good luck playing a solo Medic (they gain XP primarily by healing teammates). Leveling with friends is generally faster too, since more players equals more enemies and you get full XP for assists.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
There are only a small handful of multiplayer shooters that I play with any regularity, and Killing Floor 2 is near the top of the list. Most matches are short—30 minutes or less—so it’s easy to play in small chunks. Plus, it’s better than many AAA shooters at half the price ($29.99 for the regular edition). If top-notch gun mechanics in FPS titles are important to you, definitely pick this one up.
#10 Most Improved by Mods: Fallout 4
Let’s be real: vanilla Fallout 4 is an okay game at best. It’s a better shooter than it is an RPG, although many people expected it to make the best RPGs of all-time list. Furthermore, it’s only a competent shooter, not an amazing one. Bethesda’s been phoning it in more and more ever since Fallout 3, but if you’re willing to put a fair amount of work into Fallout 4, it truly can become a wildly fun shooter that will keep you entertained for hundreds of hours.
With the possible exception of its leveling and perk system, Fallout 4’s basic mechanics are too simple (some would even say dumbed down) to be enjoyable for long. Its overly repetitious structure doesn’t help, either; most of the quests involve traveling somewhere, killing something, and reporting back to an apathetic NPC. The intricate subplots and interesting characters of older Fallout games are all but gone entirely.
This is where mods come in. On my current character, I’m using 239 mods, and in many respects, I’m playing an entirely different game. (I highly recommend Mod Organizer 2, which is by far the easiest, most powerful, and most user-friendly mod management program out there for Bethesda games.)
I can’t list every mod I recommend. If I did, this article would just be an 8,000-word list—but I’ll give you a few of my personal favorites to get you started. These links go to NexusMods for PC gamers, but many (if not most) of them are also available on bethesda.net for console players.
- Unofficial Fallout 4 Patch: Basically mandatory. Fixes many, many bugs that Bethesda didn’t.
- Homemaker, Sim Settlements, Spring Cleaning, and Place Everywhere: Essential building mods that turn Fallout 4 into a veritable 3D Minecraft.
- Armor and Weapon Keywords Community Resource: A framework mod on which many other equipment mods depend.
- Armorsmith Extended: Hands-down the best armor and clothing mod out there. It does an insane amount of stuff.
- DEF_UI: Dramatically improves the game’s interface, HUD, and menus.
- Professional Ammo Crafting: Significant improvements to ammo crafting. Supports many mod weapons and ammo types.
- Immersive Fallout: A broad range of individually minor tweaks that, together, make the game more challenging and realistic.
- Survival Mode Tweaks: Fallout 4’s default Survival Mode is a good idea that’s been very poorly executed. This mod keeps the core mechanics intact, but tweaks most of them to make for a less arbitrarily stupid experience.
- Rename Anything: Just what it says—anything in the game that has a name can get a new one. Stupid NPC pissing you off? Change his name to Farthead McButtface and cackle maniacally, drunk on your own god-like power.
- FACTOR Modular Rifle: This is the only weapon mod I’m going to recommend, because I use about 80 others, and this list has to end at some point. Seriously, it’s an amazingly versatile rifle mod.
Given that we’re talking specifically about modded versions of Fallout 4, it’s almost pointless to analyze the vanilla graphics. I’d say they’re okay—not bad, not great. (That third-person running animation though—have Bethesda animators ever actually seen a human being run?)
There are hundreds upon hundreds of texture, animation, and environment overhaul mods to choose from, so you can make the game look pretty much however you want. You can turn it into a black-and-white noir film or create a healthy version of Boston that’s mostly recovered from the apocalypse. And yes, you giant weebs, you can make your character super kawaii too. (Females only, and the mod author has no plans to overhaul males. What a shocker.)
The main quest of Fallout 4 centers around your lost kid and your half-assed, meandering, emotionally uninvested quest to find him. Most of the sidequest chains are at least somewhat more interesting (not yours, Preston), but really, to get the most out of Fallout 4, you need a strong imagination and some self-generated goals.
Even without mods, Fallout 4 is so huge and open-ended that you can create your own stories and motivations for your character. But with mods, the possibilities expand even further. I once played a character with a terminal disease that would weaken and eventually kill him (with actual in-game effects), so I had a limited amount of time and a strong incentive to prioritize his goals. It was pretty cool.
Fallout 4 is a strictly single-player game.
Overall Review/Final Thoughts
Whether or not you’ll love Fallout 4 depends largely on how much work you’re willing to put into modding it and what other, lower-maintenance games you might have sitting in your backlog. With 10-20 hours of effort, it can become something far greater than most other shooters (and many other RPGs, for that matter). But if you’d rather just go play a game that the developers got right on their own, that’s legit too.
Also, some of the most amazing Fallout 4 mods can give you much better gaming experience.
10 Best First-Person Shooters of All Time: Summary
We’ve got a nice spread of different first-person shooters here—but if you could only buy one, which one should it be? There’s a little bit of apples-to-oranges syndrome inherent in that question, but of course, I do like some of these games more than others. Your mileage may vary.
Overall Best First-Person Shooter: Borderlands 2
This was truly a tough call, but at the end of the day, there’s a reason I’ve logged more hours in this game than in any of the others on the list. It’s simply the most fun of all of them.
The shooting mechanics are solid, there’s a huge (effectively infinite) number of guns, the writing is hilarious, and it’s superbly well-balanced for a party of four. There’s just nothing better than chatting with your buddies on Discord and snacking on some kettle corn while sinking an entire weekend into Borderlands 2.
Runner-Up: Metro 2033
I love S.T.A.L.K.E.R., but it’s a pretty hard game to get into. I admit it’s not for everyone. Metro 2033 has a similar general vibe, but it doesn’t brutally punish you for the slightest mistake (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. sometimes punishes you even when you’ve done everything right).
I think Metro 2033 is best played on Ranger Hardcore mode, but there are several easier settings if that’s not your thing. Its writing is (mostly) solid, its monsters are spooky, and it does a superb job of keeping the tension high throughout. Play it alone, in the dark, for best results.
Second Runner-Up: Fallout 4
A thought occurred to me as I was thinking about which game deserved a “top three” spot: Very often, I go for days in Fallout 4 without firing a single shot. A majority of the games on this list are pretty violent (they are first-person shooters, after all).
But everyone has a different threshold for violence, and Fallout 4 has plenty to do that doesn’t involve killing stuff, especially if you’ve installed the building mods I recommended. If you love Minecraft, you can definitely scratch the same itch here. Fallout 4 gets the second runner-up spot because it’s not just a shooter—there’s so much more you can do with it.
There you have it: ten of the best first-person shooters of all time. Is there a game that you think deserves a top-ten spot that didn’t make it onto our list? Let us know and share what you love about it in the comments. Also, check out our guide on the best Battle Royale games, or maybe even some of the most amazing multiplayer games!