Nothing captures the raw, visceral feel of combat like a first-person shooter. FPS games channel you into the perspective of the gun-wielding hero of your dreams, letting you see and hear everything just as you would if you were actually there. The genre has evolved since its 1990s birth and reached a high point on current-gen systems, and now is definitively the most popular type of game out there. With all that competition, it makes it tough to climb to the top of the heap, and new challengers constantly come around to take on the current king of the hill.
Here’s a look at the best first-person shooters available right now:
5. Destiny: The Taken King
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
More than a year after a rough launch, this bundled expansion/relaunch helped Bungie’s first post-Halo effort reach many of the goals it set out to hit when it was conceived. A mixture of exploration-heavy multiplayer, Diablo-like loot collecting and upgrades and old-fashioned, Halo-style shootouts, Destiny gives you tons to see and do.
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Id Software
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Id Software deserves credit for popularizing the FPS, and the developer roared back after decades of wheels-spinning to show that it can compete with the greats of today. This stylized reboot not only resurrects the old-school, run-and-gun Doom, feel, but reinvents it with modern flourishes, robust multiplayer and an impressive map-building suite.
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The Call of Duty franchise has ruled the multiplayer front for so long that it’s tough to remember a time that its annual releases weren’t practically automatic additions to almost any serious gamer’s library. Black Ops III maintains the series’ standard of blowout single-player set pieces and expansive multiplayer with an addictive progression system and constant flow of new map packs to keep things fresh.
2. Halo 5: Guardians
Developer: 343 Industries
Platforms: Xbox One
Bungie left a tough act to follow by establishing Halo as a crossover media giant, but 343 Industries managed to build upon the franchise’s success and take it to new heights. Nostalgic gamers may pine for the older games, but those don’t look or play nearly as well as the latest entry. Industry-standard matchmaking bolsters the multiplayer, and the story — told from different perspectives of clashing heroes in this game — manages to hit some stinging emotional notes.
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
This MOBA-FPS hybrid has quickly launched out of the gates to seize the top spot in sales and critical praise. Blizzard invents a new genre by perfecting two others, giving you an array of fascinating and well-balanced characters to mix and match to build the perfect base-raiding squad. Multiplayer gaming rarely reaches the thrilling heights that Overwatch cranks out with assured confidence.
Order Phil Villarreal’s novel, Zeta Male, here.