Many believe that the first ever first-person shooter was either 1993’s Doom or 1992’s Wolfenstein 3D, but this could be seen as incorrect. Games like MIDI Maze and Hovertank 3D pioneered first-person gameplay before either Doom or Wolfenstein did, although it is fair to say these two id Software games solidified what first-person shooters really are today. Now, the first-person shooter cup runneth over; there are lots of great FPS games and third-person shooters out there, not least on Xbox and PC. Here are the 15 best shooters on Xbox Game Pass.
1. Halo Infinite
It’s been a long wait, but the many delays to Halo Infinite turned out to be more than worth it. Master Chief’s latest adventure might be spinning its wheels a little bit on the story front, but its gameplay is excellent; the pseudo open-world environments let Chief loose on the Covenant in an unprecedented way, and the new grappling hook opens up traversal and makes Halo’s movement feel fun. On top of that, there’s a big dose of the usual Halo fun; vehicles, great weapons, and plenty of alien-killing.
2. Doom Eternal
Calling the new Doom games a return to the original philosophy of the 1993 game would be a mistake. These games feature lots of improvements over the original; you can move on more than two axes, for example, and the weapons have a kick that no 1993 hardware could ever have achieved. Doom Eternal iterates on the excellent 2016 reboot in several key ways; its traversal is better, its enemy variety is wider, and it even has a story to follow.
3. Gears 5
Gears 5 has pretty incredible accessibility options and represents a genuine leap forward for the industry in terms of opening up the hobby for all and sundry. It’s also a great shooter, which helps. After Gears of War 4 passed the torch from Marcus Fenix on to a new generation, Gears 5 continues their story, mixing amusing writing with the classic third-person shooter setpieces you’ve come to expect from the franchise. Spectacular, somewhat goofy, and utterly addictive, Gears 5 is a riot.
4. Remnant: From the Ashes
Although Bloodborne was technically the first game (or one of the first) to mix gunplay with Soulslike combat, the gun in From Software’s gothic masterpiece is little more than a parry tool. That’s not the case in Remnant: From the Ashes, which is based entirely around third-person gunplay, incredibly difficult bosses, and procedurally generated levels with lots to see and do. There’s also a multiplayer focus; if you take on Remnant’s worlds by yourself, you might struggle.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order
After years of diminishing returns from the increasingly irrelevant Wolfenstein franchise, developer Machine Games stepped in and gave us this masterpiece in 2014. Longtime hero BJ Blazkowicz is rendered here as an exhausted, profoundly human warrior, tired from his long years of battling the Nazis without any apparent reward. A spark of hope reignites his rebellion, and together with an equally relatable and complex cast, Blazkowicz proceeds to cut his way across an excellent, varied FPS campaign.
Arguably one of the most influential first-person shooters of all time, Quake dragged the genre kicking and screaming into the realm of full 3D. The environments in Quake are immersive and atmospheric, and although the game is a little silly overall, its gunplay and exploration shouldn’t be sniffed at. There’s a visceral satisfaction to firing Quake’s weaponry, and thanks to a range of expansions, the Xbox Game Pass version has a huge amount of content to enjoy.
7. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
BioWare’s hybrid of RPG and third-person shooter is just as relevant and enjoyable today as it was when it originally released fifteen years ago. More so, in fact, because Mass Effect has had a facelift. The Legendary Edition package overhauls the original’s gameplay, making the gunplay more satisfying and smoothing out some of the rough edges (yes, that includes the vehicular exploration). The other two games are just as polished and fun as ever, and the Mass Effect 3 DLC even goes some way towards fixing that game’s notorious ending.
8. Destiny 2
After handing the reins for Halo over to 343 Industries, Bungie moved on to Destiny, a new property that mixes first-person shooting with MMORPG-style looting and exploration. This isn’t Borderlands, though; Destiny is big-budget and grand, and this is even more true of its sequel, which lifts some of the dour mood and introduces more compelling characters than its predecessor. Elsewhere, it’s the same immensely rewarding grind, full of outlandish weapons and satisfying powers.
Despite having the same name as 2006’s Prey, this is very much not the same game; it takes place in a totally different world and features more immersive sim-style gameplay akin to Deus Ex or System Shock. Prey is a freeform shooter that lets you decide how you want to play it. Will you play a crafty engineer, repairing turrets to defend you and finding maintenance tunnels around the Talos-1 space station? Alternatively, you could play a gunslinging warrior, blasting aliens with shotguns, or even a psychic mindbender with access to alien powers.
10. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
It’s official: walking simulator-style horror games are over. Resident Evil 7 showed us that defending yourself against the lurching horrors and unkillable monstrosities that often populate first-person horror games doesn’t take away any of the tension or fear. It’s also an excellent reboot for the Resident Evil franchise, stripping things back to basics and removing a lot of the convoluted canon that has dragged the franchise down since Resident Evil 6.
11. Superhot: Mind Control Delete
Technically, Superhot: Mind Control Delete isn’t really a first-person shooter. Sure, you play it in first-person and you have guns, but this is more akin to a puzzle game. Here’s the gimmick: time stops when you’re not moving, allowing you to plan your moves meticulously. Time resumes when you move, so it’s all about looking around, spotting opportunities for kills, and then setting things into motion when you’re sure it’s going to work. When you pull off a perfect sequence, it’s incredibly satisfying.
12. My Friend Pedro
My Friend Pedro doesn’t get anywhere near enough love. Okay, so the tone might be a little “lol random” and the story is essentially nonexistent, but the gameplay is great. It’s a 2D shooter in which you control each arm separately, allowing you to aim at enemies in different directions. This allows you to replicate the stunts you’ve seen in “gun-fu” style movies with almost perfect accuracy, and combined with a physics-based movement system, My Friend Pedro becomes an exercise in primal satisfaction.
13. Sunset Overdrive
We’re putting Sunset Overdrive on this list, but with one major caveat: if the humour is not your cup of tea, you’re going to hate this game. It’s suffused in every pore with “awesome”, which means none of its characters or situations are in the least bit relatable or interesting. However, the gameplay is what you’re here for, and it’s brilliant, as you’ve come to expect from Insomniac. Sunset Overdrive is an open-world shooter with great rail-based traversal mechanics, making it feel like a mixture of Resistance, Ratchet and Clank, and Jet Set Radio.
14. Titanfall 2
The first Titanfall was a somewhat undernourished package. It had a great multiplayer mode, but no single-player content to speak of, so its lasting appeal was greatly diminished. The same can’t be said for Titanfall 2, which has a surprisingly effective and well-made single-player mode. It’s not just robot-based thrills, either; there are lots of insane parkour-style platforming sequences in Titanfall 2, significantly enhanced by the need to use your robot Titan buddy to solve environmental puzzles and not just as a murder machine.
Remedy’s games have always been profoundly odd affairs, and Control is no exception. With hints towards a wider Remedy universe and plenty of SCP-style background lore to delve into (look it up, you won’t be disappointed), Control is more idiosyncratic Remedy fun, only this time, unlike Quantum Break, the studio remembered to put some gameplay into its game. Using Control’s powers to dispatch the demonic Hiss threat is always fun, and while the shooting isn’t the main draw of the game, it’s still satisfying to float around the environments blasting enemies while out of their reach.
These are our favourite shooters on Xbox Game Pass, but they’re by no means the only ones available. We missed out the characterful role-playing of The Outer Worlds, the looter-shooter thrills of Outriders, and the PC-melting glory that is the Crysis franchise (which is getting a fourth instalment, praise be), among many others. This is Game Pass, too, so the lineup will constantly change and shift. What are your favourite shooters on Xbox Game Pass, and which ones do you think we missed? Which shooters would you like to see appearing on the service in the future?