I remember it so vividly: summer holidays, piercing Australian sun, stench of heat in the air. And, where was I? Blasting demons with my shotgun on windows 95 in a clammy bedroom. This was the day that I lost my video game virginity, the day I was first introduced to the franchise that had not only defined a video game genre, but had also ignited an undying flame within my soul…
That flame is my irrevocable love of shooting games. the game I was playing? id software’s classic first-person shooter, DOOM, of course. I could easily discuss the primal fear I felt when facing the terrifying, colossal cyberdemon for the first time (even though I cheated to be invulnerable, iddqd), but the reality is, this article focuses not solely on DOOM, but some of my all time favourite shooter games across a range of sub-genres. although perhaps I will dive back into the depths of hell with my trusty plasma gun later on for you, so keep on reading.
The smoothest way to express my infatuation with shooting games is to first break down the genre into some popular sub-genres. I must tread ever so carefully here, as often video games stretch across multiple genres; for instance, Gearbox Software’s Borderlands is a role playing action game with a first-person shooter backbone. In order to clarify, I will be including releases with role playing components in the pool of games I fish to develop my list. I will also not be including any modern and highly complicated/detailed vehicle-only warfare games among my list, even though there are some fantastic titles available.
Popular Shooting Game Sub-genres
Third-Person Shooters (TPS)
Step outside your body and watch every move you make. Third-person shooter games employ an exterior perspective of your video game avatar, allowing you to control them from a distance — or “over-the-shoulder” — depending upon the flexibility of the games camera control. A third-person shooter perspective allows for a diverse variety of games and is often implemented in adventure styled shooters with elements of exploration and puzzle solving.
First-Person Shooter Games (FPS)
Pssst! Don’t tell the other sub-genres, but you are my favourite! In an FPS you see the game’s world from the perspective of your character, often viewing your firearm as a prime feature in the frame. In most FPS games however, your character’s head and eye movement is locked and essentially you move your entire body in a combined motion (this has of course changed with the advent of virtual reality gaming technologies).
Hero Shooter Games
Undoubtedly the newest genre of shooter, and encompassing both the above sub-genres, are “hero shooters” — a prime example of this being Blizzard’s behemoth: Overwatch. In hero shooter games you control a very specifically designed hero, with a very specific skill set and/or weapon, for a specific role among a team of other heroes in the same circumstance. The game developers are able to constantly tweak (nerf and buff, namely) these heroes, as well as release new heroes to diversify and balance the roster and maintain the games competitiveness. Players become supernaturally proficient at certain heroes, and it is an absolute joy to watch a professional player handle your favourite hero with such confidence and finesse.
Shoot ’em Up’s
Some of the oldest shooting games in human existence (lets not try image what the aliens are up to) belong under the sub-genre of “shoot ’em ups” games. We’re talking arcade machine games like Space Invaders and Galaga! Although shoot ’em up games primarily involve a lone protagonist dodging hails of fire and destroying countless enemies, the genre is hugely diverse, with many sub-genres in itself such as “twin stick shooters” and “run and guns”
“So what is the definable trait among these sub-genres?”, you may ask. Isn’t it obvious? Guns. Armour punching, barrel igniting, bad-guy busting guns. Before I reveal to you my all time favourite shooting games please be advised that I have developed the following lists irrespective of online multiplayer compatibility and/or competitiveness and I believe in doing so, I can focus sincerely on the sheer enjoyment I perceived when playing each game. After all, video games should primarily be about fun!
My Favourite Third-Person Shooters
Grand Theft Auto
What do you call a gamer that doesn’t smell of body odour and Doritos? A casual. On occasion I ask my friends — the ones that do not spend vast portions of their life playing video games — what sort of games they had played perhaps in their youth or from time-to-time now in adulthood. The one answer I can almost always expect is: Grand Theft Auto or GTA. Rockstar games’ open world, and controversially graphic crime game franchise Grand Theft Auto, is found gracing the gaming collection of hardcore video gamer’s and casuals alike.
Now I suppose I was a late entry into the franchise, my first GTA game being San Andreas. I remember playing it with my two cousins for hours and not once completing a mission. That was the beauty of it — the city was just so fun to explore… and destroy. Campaign progression would certainly allow the game to blossom but it wasn’t a priority of mine, the game was just casual fun, and the campaign was always there if you wanted more. You could pick up a controller and play for 5 minutes, and in that time, gain maximum wanted stars and get brutally wasted by the police. Or you could floor it down the highway into oncoming traffic blasting Bounce FM and likely do the wasting yourself. Murderous rampages? Why not? — I am sure you can see why this franchise is controversial.
Isn’t GTA V a first-person shooter as well? Good pickup! The Enhanced Edition of the latest release into the GTA franchise, GTA V, allows for a deviation from the third-person shooter perspective. You can change the in-game settings to experience crime-doing from the eyes of your character — how lovely!
The Mass Effect Trilogy
Why does mum always walk in when I am attempting to smooth talk Liara? Bioware’s Mass Effect was the series that prompted me to branch out from the first-person shooter genre. A science fiction shooter with a “choose your own adventure element” was a welcome change to me, even though it took me some time to get used to the third-person shooter perspective. Your decisions in these games had a weight to them and reverberated not only throughout each game, but in the series its self. In the Mass Effect Trilogy you are able to carry your character over from the previous game in the trilogy, just like in CJ Projeckt RED’s The Witcher. The Mass Effect games exhibit a reasonably flexible character class system and a highly customisable weapons system, allowing players the freedom to adopt a play style of their choosing.
In case you are tuned into the wrong intergalactic radio frequency: an upcoming addition to the franchise, Mass Effect: Andromeda, is expected for release on the 21st of March 2017.
Red Dead Redemption
So me and my buddies got into a horse drawn carriage (I think there was about 5 of us). My good friend Conner was steering. We come to a railway bridge that crosses a canyon. “Don’t worry lads,” he assures with his Scottish accent, “I’ve got this!” We make it several metres before Conner decides to veer right, taking the carriage and our party off the edge with him. My ears drums burst with the screams permeating through my headset…
Well, Rockstar, you did it again! Red Dead Redemption was a massive success. Why? Because it is essentially Grand Theft Auto, but with cowboys. Riding horses was exhilarating, shooting down bad guys while doing so was even more exhilarating. The game had such open, free environments with beautiful graphics for the time; being able to experience these environments with friends made it even better! Oh and… hold onto your hats, cow-dudes and dudettes! Red Dead Redemption 2 has been announced for release in 2017!
My Favourite First-Person Shooters
In my opinion I believe there is no gaming perspective superior in immersion to that of the first-person perspective. That is why in FPS, mowing down hoards of enemies with a ridiculous arsenal of firearms is so exhilarating — it’s about as up close and personal as you can get without a virtual reality headset. Watch the gore before your eyes! When I say “mowing down hoards of enemies with a ridiculous arsenal of firearms”, I am of course referring directly to the DOOM franchise.
It goes without saying that this franchise takes the cake in terms of my favourite game, not only in the shooting game genre, but in the entirety of released video games… ever. The DOOM protagonist — or “DOOMGUY”, as his mother calls him — is able to wield up to a whopping 9 guns (and a chainsaw) in the franchises most recent release, DOOM (2016). Every weapon throughout this franchise is unique and enjoyable to shoot, and I think translated well between games. And who ever said anything about reloading? If you love first-person shooters and have not played any of the old school DOOM games you are truly denying yourself a unique and timeless experience. You can pick the old school games up in a classic package on Steam… or install each game using several floppy discs like I had done in my youth.
Can you hear that? It came from these here bushes! — — — —next second you are this guy:
Crytek’s Crysis was the first game that made me notice just how dismal the specs of my PC at the time actually were. Employing Crytek’s game engine, Cryengine 2, this game set the benchmark for graphics back at its release in 2007, and continues looks fantastic by today’s standards. Equip with the trademark nanosuit, you and the other members of the ever-thinning Raptor Team, investigate a distress call warning of North Korean invasion on a seemingly unimportant island. Then things start to get freaky. For me, the best part of this game was playing with the physics engine and running through the jungle like a madman in the unstoppable nanosuit. Throwing enemies at each other was hilarious. And all this while running the game on the lowest possible graphical settings, still with lag. You should have seen my face when I recently booted it on my current PC!
Counter-strike: Global Offensive
Let me make one thing clear: I was never good at this game. Even so, it was probably the most fun I have ever had with a competitive first-person shooter. Counter-strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) is the most recent release into the Counter-strike franchise, developed by Valve Corporation and Hidden Path Entertainment. It is is one of the largest competitive first-person shooters in the world.
Even though the game is relatively simple, it still requires an incredibly high amount of concentration, teamwork and outright skill. Recoil is your real enemy in this game — it’s so easy to freak out and spray your magazine into the terrain surrounding your target. Therefore, watching players handle their firearms eloquently, is for me, the most enjoyable part of watching professional CSGO games… and of course the table-turning 1 v 4 plays get my heart going as well. Counter-strike as a franchise has set the benchmark for competitive FPS since its release as a Half-Life mod in 1999, and continues to go strong today.
How about some honourable mentions? I better not get carried away, so here is a significantly reduced list of some of my other favourite FPS titles:
Planetside 2 (Daybreak Game Company) – Large scale warfare! Glory to the TR!
The Battlefield franchise (EA DICE) – I can’t think of one I didn’t like.
Destiny (Bungie) – I love the pace of the Crucible.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Infinity Ward) – Probably the first FPS I played competitively — don’t forget that split-screen too!
Painkiller (People Can Fly) – Stake gun. Need I say more?
My Only Hero Shooter
It pains me, my new friends, to admit that the only game in this genre I believe I have played is Blizzard’s Overwatch. Sort of useless, aren’t I? However, I gain some comfort in knowing that Overwatch has broken the ice into the genre for many fellow gamers.
I found Overwatch to be incredibly “noob friendly”; with basic FPS skills, anybody could pick this game up, play quick match, and have a whole lot of fun. However it was the desire of its developers to produce a game that could be played not only for fun, but competitively as well — and they have done just that with the implementation of competitive mode with competitive seasons and allocated player rankings.
For me Overwatch can be a casual match after work (or sometimes before hehe), or a 12 hour LAN party at my buddies house. I find it to be versatile, particularly with all the recently added game modes, and always so much fun.
From what I can tell, Valve Corporation’s Team Fortress 2 paved the way for hero shooters, so I think it is time I returned to the roots of the genre and tried this game out! Also, there is a bunch of other similar games that are out now, such as: Battleborn and Paladins; and a bunch more on the horizon, such as Quake Champions and LawBreakers. So many games, so little time…
My Favourite Shoot ’em Ups
I think my little sister bit me to get a turn at this… My uncle had the actual Galaga arcade machine; he was coincidentally my favourite uncle. At his house was where I played the majority of my Galaga in my youth. Now it can be played on websites such as Classic Arcade Games for free! Namco’s Galaga is a typical arcade shoot ’em up game where your sole aim is to receive a greater high score than your annoying cousin.
Pretty much the only time my teammates and I would die was when we were crushed by our own re-spawn stratagems. I actually downloaded Arrowhead Game Studios’ Helldivers as a free monthly game via Playstation Plus. Not knowing what to expect, I entered this game and was immediately vanquished.
Helldivers is a highly co-operative online twin-stick shooter with a formidable arsenal of weapons and abilities (in the form of “strategems”). You control your character from an isometric perspective to spray down endless hordes of distinct alien enemies and complete objectives on a variety of planets (with several different terrain types). Ultimately, all this killing is to preserve freedom and the Earth ‘way of life’ for the inhabitants of Super Earth: the human races home world.
In saying all this, the best part about Helldivers is that you can totally shoot your friends! But, I strongly advise against this — you are going to need all the help you can get.
Remember how I said I will not be including “highly complicated/detailed” vehicle warfare shooting games? Well that remains true. Diep.io is visually about as simplistic as video games get these days, but is still a load of fun — and is played through a browser for free . It is a multiplayer vehicle warfare game where you control an up-gradable tank in a range of game modes. You gain experience by destroying coloured shapes and enemy tanks, which can be used to customise your tank. The game is a great way to kill some time and — just between me and you — is perfect for a cheeky play in the office.
Upcoming Shooting Games To Keep In Your Sights
Without fuelling the hype fires of some upcoming shooting games, here is a quick list of games that I will certainly be keeping in my sights:
Quake Champions (id Software and Bethesda)
Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)
Ghost Recon: Wildlands (Ubisoft)
Destiny 2 (Bungie) — See Trust Reviews for further information
Prey (Arkane Studios and Bethesda)
Battalion 1944 (Bulkhead Interactive)
Rising Storm: Vietnam (Tripwire Interactive)
Strafe — See PCGamesN for further information
Shadow Warrior 2 (Flying Wild Hog)
Mass Effect: Andromeda (Bioware)
And the real question: What is my favourite video game gun?
It would have to be this sturdy, reliable collection of pixels:
Please, don’t tell me you prefer a wand.. Thank you for putting some time aside from your flourishing gaming careers to read this article. Keep your aim true, my cherished readers!