The best FPS games

The best competitive FPS games

The original Doom was a vital multiplayer game, but the campaign is what gets the focus today. So while many of the games on this list have some sort of multiplayer component, these are the games we specifically recommend for the competitive type.

Quake III Arena

Release Date: 1999
Developer: id Software
Link: Steam (Alternatively: Quake Live)

The Formula 1 of FPS, Quake III’s athleticism and minimalism separate it from other shooters. Tribes’ player movement might be faster in units per second, but Quake doesn’t spread its speed over miles of terrain. The tight arenas flow in a way that demands constant dexterity. You can feel your brain firing as you sprint between weapon and armor pickups, anticipate which route your rival will take, and time a perfect pass over the quad-damage power-up to grab it just as it refreshes.

Mechwarrior Online

Release Date: 2013
Developer: Piranha Games
Link: mwomercs.com

Mechs are piñatas, and shooting them is a pleasant process of eroding armor, limbs, and weapons—modular damage is one of the things that distinguishes MechWarrior most from conventional shooters. Even in MWO’s incomplete, beta form, Piranha Games has shown how well it understands what’s mechanically compelling about mechs. The customization garage is a context for engineering problems: how do you cram the weapons and subsystems you want into a 50-ton Hunchback without compromising on durability and speed? MWO rewards marksmanship, a tactical mind, and physical awareness.

Battlefield 1

Release date: 2016
Developer: DICE
Link: Origin

The strongest Battlefield since Bad Company 2 is vastly improved by a return to a historical setting. As a multiplayer shooter, there's a better sense of tactical pace than in Battlefields 3 and 4, with improved infantry combat, and ten wildly varied maps. Objective-led modes like War Pigeons bring the best out of Battlefield's sandbox-y structure, and the inclusion of behemoths—like a gun-strapped train and the giant airship—heighten the level of explosive drama in any given game. 

While you'll no doubt check out Battlefield 1 for the competitive multiplayer, its anthology-style singleplayer is surprisingly compelling, too, even if it'll only last you for five or so hours. 

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Release Date: 2017
Developer: Bluehole, Inc
Link: Steam

The format of PUBG is so easy to grasp that it's no surprise it's sold millions of copies in Early Access. Players land on an 8x8km island and scavenge for guns, tools and other items in a large-scale battle royale, as the safe zone of the environment shrinks across the course of the game. Even in defeat, PUBG produces gritty stories of gunfights gone wrong or tall tales of vehicular stunts, mixing silliness with seriousness.

PUBG has added first-person-only servers in a recent update, and it's changed the game for the better. What was already a tense experience of hiding, spotting and ambushing is made more nerve-racking without the option to look around corners or get a better perspective of your surroundings with a third-person camera.

PlanetSide 2

Release Date: 2012
Developer: Daybreak (formerly Sony Online Entertainment)
Link: Official site

Audacious. Sony Online, now Daybreak, built a multi-continental world wide enough for thousands of players on three factions to fight in the air, on the ground, and inside bases, and released it for free. To do all that without totally diluting the ingredients that make large multiplayer shooters work (responsive hit detection, squad commanding, vehicle dynamics) is technical sorcery.Your first hours inside PS2 expand your understanding of what’s possible on PC. How are there that many tanks on screen? How is the server handling a dozen firefights across a six different bases? How do the particle effects look this good?

What’s most impressive is the way individual heroics co-exist so comfortably alongside the massive, never-ending territory battles in canyons, snow, and savannah. The glory you get from assigning yourself a goal—harassing a tank column from the sky, going full Alamo with your friends to defend a Tech Plant, C4ing a valuable Sunderer spawn point, taxiing your friends in a Galaxy—and seeing it through is precious. PlanetSide 2 trusts its players to create their own fun. 

On the next page, even more competitive shooters...