The first person shooter is one of the most venerable and overcrowded video game genres in history. It’s impossible to deny that some of the biggest and most groundbreaking games ever made have been first-person shooters. Beyond commercial success, the combination of a first-person perspective and the easy-to-understand interface of shooting things has provided a reliable framework for designers to challenge and entertain players while experimenting with storytelling, world-building and notions of player choice.
Here you’ll find some of the most iconic first person shooter games of all time.
10. Duke Nukem 3D
Year of Release: 1996
It’s almost a little embarrassing to go back today and profess any admiration or fondness for 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D, especially following the fiasco of Duke Nukem Forever, but like it or not, this game forms part of a triumvirate with Wolfenstein 3D and Doom as the best early shooters. And honestly, compared to those earlier titles, Duke Nukem 3D was an FPS that truly had personality and character rather than the faceless nature of Doom Guy. Duke’s hyper-macho quips are juvenile, but in a time when the market was largely seen as prepubescent boys, it made sense. The gameplay, meanwhile, was quite a step forward from anything people had seen before, with its destructible level designs and multiple pathways. The weapon designs were likewise awesome—who can forget the first time they shrunk an enemy with the shrink ray and then stepped on them like a bug? That particular style of weapon has never been done as well again in an FPS in the last 20 years.—Jim Vorel.
Year of Release: 2005
F.E.A.R. is as straightforward as it is terrifying. You’re part of a Special Forces team designed to fight spooky, paranormal beings, and your job is to blast said spooky spooks with lots and lots of firepower. The game’s oppressive, beautifully-rendered atmosphere and interactive environments elevate it above other standard issue shooters. And while the ability to slow down time during encounters isn’t groundbreaking, it did add an element of fun and strategy to the otherwise mindless Ghost Busting shoot-em-up.
Gamers picked up F.E.A.R. for one very specific reason (to get their pants scared off), and it did not disappoint. To date, the very first level still stands as one of the greatest in recent memory. It builds tension with jump scares and surreal visuals, culminating with one frantic, horrifying firefight. The game never takes its foot off the pedal from that point forward — which is probably a blessing, as the plot devolves rather quickly.