One of the most popular video game genres, and one new gamers should at least check out at some point, is the first person shooter, or fps. While this category doesn’t enjoy the insane popularity that is did say, 15 years ago, it is still one of the top genres out there with massively popular franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, Far Cry, Doom, Borderlands, and the list goes on. Some of the most revered games in the medium’s history have been first person shooters.
With that said, which one should you try? There are a great many out there, and it may come as no surprise that there are many disparate kinds of fps. So why don’t we break it all down, and I’ll give you a suggestion or two for each fps subgenre we go over?
“Run and Gun” first person shooters
These are your adrenaline-fueled, straight-up action games where the objective is to just shoot everything in sight and ask questions later. These are all about mindless, chaotic fun – which is not the worst kind of fun you can have, mind you, and they are probably the most approachable form of fps game for new gamers. This category includes franchises like Serious Sam and Doom (to a degree), and the massive hit Call of Duty series has been called a run-and-gun style shooter.
Role playing first person shooters
This subgenre has been pretty hot for a while now. These shooters offer a much more involved experience that incorporates role playing game elements in the form of character development (in terms of their ability set and equipment). They also tend to put the player in vast open world settings with a more or less sandbox-style approach to basic gameplay flow, with tons of side quests to do and optional areas to explore.
All told these games deliver gameplay that, while still retaining the action elements, has much more depth. The marriage of first person action and rpg-style mechanics is quite a winning formula, as evidenced by the current popularity of games like Borderlands 3, Far Cry 6 and Fallout 4. While these games are not quite as accessible as the run-and-gun variety for those without fps experience, they are approachable enough (Fallout perhaps excluded) to take on as maybe your second foray into the genre, when you have developed your first person gaming chops a little.
Multiplayer first person shooters
Destiny, Titanfall and Overwatch are among the franchises included in this category. As you might have guessed, these are online multiplayer games that focus on the team aspect of gameplay. While these can be enormously fun playing with others, you may want to steer clear of them in the beginning and become more acquainted with first person gameplay (and with gaming in general, really) before delving into these.
Narrative-driven first person shooters
This includes a different breed of shooter: ones that explore visual storytelling and attempt to deliver an interactive experience that is focused on narrative. Probably the most exemplary title in this category is Bioshock (or rather, the series as a whole), which is regarded today as an undisputed classic, and one that folks still talk about.
The third and thus far most recent installment of the series, Bioshock Infinite is considered a master class in video game story telling. Does it offer frantic gunplay with superhuman powers thrown into the mix? Yes, it does. In spades. But it also delivers a mind-bending plot punctuated by some impressive character development, especially on the part of the story’s damsel-in-distress, Elizabeth.
While there are other shooters of this ilk to be sure, the Bioshock name stands as the paragon of this subgenre. Other series have been lauded for great storytelling in certain installments as well, namely Mass Effect 2, Far Cry 3 and Halo 2.
So there is my quick and dirty rundown of the first person shooter genre. I hope you found something here that intrigues you. These games really are an absolute blast once you get your bearings in the first person perspective. As with all things they are not for everyone, but you never know until you give one a try.