Variations of multiplayer shooters in either first or third-person, Hero Shooters are a sub-set of shooters where players select pre-designed ‘Hero’ characters. Typically, each hero possesses distinctive abilities, weapons, and perks—or a combination of one another. Hero Shooters promote teamwork and strategy among teams, incentivizing players to select Heroes that pair well with one another, and coordinate the use of individual capabilities during a match. This type of shooter contrasts long-standing titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where the choice between Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists has no bearing in-game, aside from the outfit and overall appearance of the character model.
Over the years, Hero-based shooters have sharply risen in popularity. A core consideration included into this best-of list includes the overall sense of personality, ability, and customization infused into the Hero or character in question. Replayability, an addictive multiplayer experience, and a compelling range of experiences are also major respects that shape the following lineup.
Here are the top Hero Shooters, ranked from least best to best.
7. Warframe (for PC)
Warframe is a polished, addictive free-to-play shoot that combines melee action, speedy shooting, and plenty of traversal-like mobility to keep players engaged. Having been around for over nine years, Warframe is no stranger to the shooter genre. Mission-based progression, intense multiplayer battles, and a unique sci-fi world make for an action-packed experience.
Enter your Warframe: a bio-metal suit that unleashes abilities and wields a vast array of weaponry to eliminate hordes of enemies on sight. And when the fiery gunplay is over, earn or instantly unlock over 40 different Warframes—each with a unique suite of powers—to re-experience the fun in various ways. Warfame’s abilities can be used for actions like healing allies, redirecting enemy fire, and achieving objectives, encouraging creativity and strategy.
Elect to form a squad with friends to partake in missions together, promoting collaborative co-op gameplay. Or, take your friend’s head on thanks to a player vs. player mode. Warframe offers a fair bit more than some of the more multiplayer-focused games on this list, like an open world and story missions.
6. Destiny 2
Although the early Halo days are long gone, Bungie’s current flagship title, Destiny 2, inherits pieces of the winning formula that made the first three Halo games so special.
Dive into various game modes: co-op mission, player vs player, or the cinematic story to experience responsive first-person shooter combat.
However, none of that can be done until you choose between one of three Guardian classes: Hunter, Warlock, or Titan. All three classes deliver unique abilities, Supers, and Exotic armor for players to enjoy. All three classes excel in particular scenarios and can shine in the game’s toughest environments when the ideal Guardian for the task at hand is chosen.
There’s a deep story found within the Destiny universe that features expansive histories and deep lore. In the past few years, the game has gone through significant storytelling shifts, with emphasis put on the characters. Destiny 2 shines when you have a clan to play with; sharing the experiences with friends is what sets Bungie’s long-standing franchise apart from other shooters.
5. Team Fortress 2
Released all the way back in 2007 and now free-to-play, TF2 was part of the Orange Box, a video game collection featuring five titles, including home runs like Portal and Half-Life: 2.
TF2 was arguably the game that kick-started the Hero Shooter genre. At the time, many highly regarded Valve’s take on the genre. TF2 does a fine job of integrating casual and competitive players. Anyone can pick the game up and figure out the basics in no time, while competitive players are encouraged to strategize, coordinate, and pair the cast of playable characters in strategic ways to try and take down matches.
The selection of well-balanced characters is one of TF2’s greatest charms. Choices include The Heavy, Scout, Medic, Sniper, and a handful of others. If you prefer to line up well-placed shots from a distance, go with the Sniper. For a snappy, traversal-like approach, choose The Scout. For a tank-like approach, go with The Heavy.
The degree of accessibility and balanced gameplay droveTF2‘s popularity back in the day, and those are major reasons why it’s still relevant today.
4. Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment’s free-to-play first person shooter, Apex Legends, is a fast-paced, hero-driven take on the popular battle royale genre.
Apex Legends has steadily evolved since its 2019 release, never afraid to implement new ideas to a similar feeling BR formula. Speedy mobility, teamwork, and traversal-like gameplay make for a game that feels distinct among others. Firefight engagements feel incredibly tense; jump, slide, and dodge bullets while hip firing like it’s nobody’s business, all the while darting around the map at top speed. Apex Legends puts a new meaning to the fast-paced shooter category.
Currently, there’s 18 playable Legends in Apex, with each bringing something distinct to the table. Figuring out what Legends pair up better with each other make’s for a rewarding venture. For instance, Revenant, Octane, and Bloodhound combine for a more aggressive composition that can rack up kill points, rotate quickly, and overwhelm unsuspecting enemies. Apex Legends does a solid job rewarding players’ individual skills over Legends’ abilities.
VALORANT draws inspiration from Counter-Strike’s playbook, reinventing the classic shooter with a futuristic spin on the competitive 5v5 shooter blueprint.
Instead of Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists, Agents with their own unique talents make up the cast of playable characters. That’s the biggest difference between the two games; Search and Destroy, the main game mode in VALORANT, is nearly identical to Counter-Strike’s bomb defusal formula—but with a Hero Shooter twist. Before the match starts, players select between one of 18 Agents. Each Agent features an ability, ranging from healing teammates to erecting walls from the ground. For instance, Killjoy’s Turret can be summoned to cause immediate suppressive fire to enemies. When an enemy is detected by her Turret, it fires at will, causing significant damage.
The parallels between Counter-Strike and VALORANT are so alike, countless pros have made the switch over to VALORANT from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. There’s no shortage of big names who’ve made the switch, which speaks volumes about the interchangeability between the two shooters.
2. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege is one of the more intricately designed multiplayer games out there. The depth stems from numerous areas: Destructible environments, map design—but most prominently—it’s the degree of differentiation among the 63 playable operators, all hailing from one of the 27 counter-terrorist units in the game, categorized into two positions: Attackers and Defenders.
Each operator features its own unique gadget, stats, and loadouts. Defender and Attacker operators feature their own weapons, primary and second gadgets available to them, and, most notably, their unique gadget.
Rainbow Six Siege is a highly strategic and methodical shooter. Entering into its now seven-year of life, the vast variety of operators have molded and shaped the game into what it is today. Small tactical choices lead to large outcomes in Siege, with each round teaching a new lesson on what could have been done better. The game rewards patience, persistence, and teamwork. Over its lifespan, Siege has become Ubisoft’s crown jewel multiplayer shooter, and from many gamers’ perspectives, one of the best first-person shooters available.
With the long-awaited second installment on the short horizon, it’s important to remember where everything started in the original Overwatch. Developed by Blizzard and released in 2016, Overwatch is a vibrant team-based shooter set in the near future. Each match offers an intense 6v6 battle among a vast cast of heroes, each with their own unique abilities. Currently, there are 32 Heroes in Overwatch, which makes for a limitless combination of pairing strategies amongst teams, encouraging gameplay that feels different each and every match.
At its core, Overwatch borrows plenty of features from the superhero genre, albeit reinventing what has come before and pushing the boundaries. Each character is capable of incredible things, making playing and every one of them well worth it.
Overwatch offers an incredible achievement in multiplayer shooter design; striking a fine balance between adrenaline-fueled combat with a thoughtful strategic multiplayer experience. If you’re looking for a hero-based shooter that your group of friends, Overwatch offers an exhilarating and coordinated play experience.