10 Shooters Every PC Gamer Must Play

Multiple FPS titles are churned out every year, but few of them are worth remembering. Why innovate when you can repeat the same, tired formula?

We pondered over the past two decades of FPS history and put together this list of 10 shooters that every PC gamer must play. Some of these games redefined the genre, while others relied solely on sheer quality, but they all have one thing in common: you must play them.

Our one ground rule: only one title per franchise.

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19 Comments on 10 Shooters Every PC Gamer Must Play


On August 31, 2011 at 6:33 pm

How in the world is CoD4 better than United Offensive? If a “PC Gamer” wants the CoD4 experience, he can pick up just about any FPS on the market today.


On August 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm

How in the hell are the grand daddy shooters(Quake and Doom) that made the genre what it is ranked lowest.

Talk about sucking corporate .

CJ Miozzi

On August 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm

@Aids: They’re sorted by year, Champ.


On August 31, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I approve of this list. Deus Ex would have to be my favorite. Human Revolution was great, but… you just can’t top Deus Ex.


On August 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm


You didnt mention Thief. Thief was the first FPS game to include stealth elements. Eidos Montreal (the developer behind Deus Ex Human Revolution) is now working on the 4th Thief game.


On August 31, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Why is Call of on this list? Granted, you at least listed oneof the better ones, but !

And Soldier of Fortune 2? HMM? ajskfdsfhsakfjhdsaf


On September 1, 2011 at 2:43 am

What in the world made you place any Call of Duty newer than CoD2 on this list? ಥ_ಥ Immersive and compelling, LOL WUT?


On September 1, 2011 at 5:11 am

I think that one game that really contributed to a massive renewal of the single player experience was (IMHO) Freedom Fighters, that – if I remember correctly – was the first game where you actually controlled a whole group of soldiers, by point-click and giving simple commands such as: “Follow me”, “Stand you ground”, “Go inspect”, “Attack”, and so forth. By todays standards the graphics are simple and the game pretty linear, but when it came out it was extremely advanced and contributed with some groundbreaking new experiences never seen before.
As I remember it was also a fairly new thing that you gained reputation, as game went alonog, and more and more would follow you and towards the last parts of the game your little group that started with 2 followers had grown to a small platoon of 7-8 freedom fighters all under your command.


On September 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

Besides TF and HL Deathmatch, I used to play a lot of Alien VS Predator and MoH AA. I thought those were the best gaming days ever.

Phil Hornshaw

On September 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

Guys, they’re not the ONLY 10 FPS games that must be played. They are simply 10 highly influential games for various reasons. We could have done 100 and there would be great games left off that list.

That said, using the comments as a place to drop other notable genre additions is a great idea. I’m glad to see Alien vs. Predator got a mention (I’m an Aliens fanboy, what can I say), as did Thief.

In defense of CoD4 — it might not be revolutionary, but it certainly is huge, explosive, and epic, as well as a leader among the most contemporary (read: last 3-4 or so years) shooters.


On September 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

Eh, this is definitely an opinionated piece. Not everyone is going to agree with these choices.

I’d certainly put NOLF and Thief (as someone mentioned) in there over RTCW and CoD4. They are superior single player games in every shape or form. Seeing as there are some choices in there that are primarily known for their multiplayer part (because their single player was non-existant or sucked), how did Tribes not get honorable mention?

I’d even consider throwing Wolfenstein 3D in there simply because, historically speaking, if you didn’t have Wolf3D, you didn’t have Doom. Stepping stones, and all.

And I think the article title should be more specific, because “shooters” is a very broad and general topic. Descent and Freespace are “shooters” and deserve to be in any PC gaming top 10 list. Galaga and 1942 are “shooters” as well, but from a bygone era. But, I digress.


On September 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm

definitely not the top fps list. doom or even Wolfenstein3D are the best fps for innovation not to mention the viral shareware release. return to wolfenstein is not better than the original…. If Deus Ex is on here then System Shock should be on this for its use of sound alone. MW was a good game (even though its marred by activision the money hungry suits) but it certainly isn’t number 1 even for must play. I got Cod 4 and STALKER SHOC at the same time and I still play STALKER to death while cod grows cobwebs on my shelf in fact I nearly sold it until I realised its worth nothing :/


On September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

yea cod 4 is famous, but not top ten, not even close. just my opinion.
arma series is pretty revolutionary with teh realism…
I would also say that original Medal of Honor, MOH Frontline, and MOH Allied Assault could be thrown in at least the top 15 PC shooters.

Brandon J. Clark

On September 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I would argue (and win) that Team Fortress 2 should’ve replaced MW2 on your list, CJ Miozzi. It actually perfected the f2p model, something I would consider a step forward (and some would consider a step back) for the genre.


On September 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Operation Flashpoint and Ghost Recon (the first one).


On September 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm

next time: top 10 PC rts muahaha

Ron Whitaker

On September 2, 2011 at 5:33 am

As with any list like this, it’s very subjective. We spent some considerable discussing what should be on it, and there are a lot of game that were in the honorable mentions category, including many of the ones you guys are tossing out.

@Darkraidor: Top 10 PC RTS? I think we can accommodate that request.

Also, to anyone who mentioned Thief, rock on. Amazing game.

@Steve: NOLF! Would like to buy my monkey?


On September 2, 2011 at 6:30 am

@Steve Dag… I forgot about Tribes too. You know there is a new version coming out. Looking forward to that. I say bye bye Halo when that comes out :)

@paolot Dude!!! I came into FP at the end of its time. I really liked the game but I could never find anyone to play online with. Ghost Recon on the other hand… damn. Played… to… death. That one map where you had to take out the terrorist in the cave on the side of the mountain. Holy crap. That map could have been in Battlefield 2. It was HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! We would connect and play hide and seek on that one.

Here’s another great one from a MOVIE. Don’t blast me on this but Tom Clancy’s Sum of All Fears was way to much fun online. Also Raven Shield did a number on my network connection for a long time. Those expansions didn’t suck either. So many memories :)


On September 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

Rainbow six was incredibly different from anything before it came out, as was ghost recon which spawned off of the game type. Otherwise, I concur with the NOLF nod as a must play, but I think we should tack on Far Cry and Jedi Knight as they were and still are great games. I agree with Deus Ex too, the funny thing was I didn’t know anyone else that ever played it other than me, it was a brilliant gritty scifi game but had this super geeky reputation for some reason.