We're in an FPS golden age

Don't look now, but right now might be the best time ever for multiplayer FPSes. I'm old enough to have experienced the [to the tune of Bryan Adams] 'FPSummer of Ninety-Nine' that gave us, egad, Quake III, Unreal Tournament, Team Fortress Classic, and the beginning of Counter-Strike. I think 2017 surpasses that.

In terms of depth, frequency of support, and contrasting kinds of multiplayer FPSes I can dig into, I don't think there's been a better moment for the PC gamer. The appropriate way to make this argument is with bullet points:

  • An Arma mod on steroids is the most popular FPS on Steam. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a story generator that balances intense firefights with goofing around. It's a 100-person free-for-all on a massive map that also respects your time. This week PUBG is running its first major tournament at Gamescom, with a $350,000 prize pool.  
  • Even with PUBG alongside it, Arma 3—an intricate and often demanding sim—averages about 22,000 concurrent players daily. That's five times the playerbase it had at launch in 2013. 
  • Blizzard's first FPS is colorful, competitive, and inclusive. But maybe most noteworthy is the tenacity and transparency with which Blizzard has iterated on Overwatch over time: it's been patched more than 120 times since launch, with seven seasonal events so far. 
  • Investment money is pouring into Blizzard's Overwatch League, which will hopefully lay the groundwork for stable team rosters and great tournaments.
  • Tribes isn't dead, it was just sleeping.
  • Valve's support for CS:GO has been inconsistent, but the shooter has nevertheless cemented itself as an insanely deep competitive game. You could spend months working on your grenade technique alone. With its massive tournaments and a little help from online gambling, CS:GO has paved the way for all other FPS' esports scenes.
  • Quake is back. Even with a free-to-play business model, rentable characters, and 'ultimate' abilities attached to each champion, Quake Champions bunnyhops and talks like a pure Quake game.
  • One of the biggest game publishers in the world made a multiplayer-only, PC-first, tactical FPS and has supported it well for two years. Rainbow Six Siege has 2.3M daily players on all platforms.
  • One decade after Halo 2, Destiny 2 is coming to PC. 
  • Tripwire and Antimatter Games are quietly making some of the best FPSes on this list. Killing Floor 2, which just ran a great summer event, deserves some sort of blood-soaked Emmy for its gore system and gun animations. Rising Storm 2: Vietnam represents one of the best midpoints between authenticity and accessibility, continuing the series' ambitious focus on asymmetry.
  • Battlefield 1, with easily the best infantry combat in the series, chugs along with paid expansions.
  • March's Day of Infamy is a worthy successor to Day of Defeat, with great co-op to boot.
  • Unreal Tournament is being remade as a unique collaboration between modders and Epic.
  • Expect a major update to Team Fortress 2 when it turns 10 on October 10.
  • Call of Duty: WWII is getting a beta on PC.
  • 20 years after GoldenEye came out on Nintendo 64, the best version of it exists on PC and is maintained by a team of passionate fans. It's free.
  • LawBreakers is rather good.
  • Most of these games are funded by cosmetic microtransactions that don't affect gameplay, rather than expansions or map packs that would fragment the player base.
  • The 144hz monitors you should play these games on are getting cheaper

I'm accepting counter-arguments in the comments. 

Evan Lahti
Global Editor-in-Chief

Evan's a hardcore FPS enthusiast who joined PC Gamer in 2008. After an era spent publishing reviews, news, and cover features, he now oversees editorial operations for PC Gamer worldwide, including setting policy, training, and editing stories written by the wider team. His most-played FPSes are CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Team Fortress Classic, Rainbow Six Siege, and Arma 2. His first multiplayer FPS was Quake 2, played on serial LAN in his uncle's basement, the ideal conditions for instilling a lifelong fondness for fragging. Evan also leads production of the PC Gaming Show, the annual E3 showcase event dedicated to PC gaming.