The past year has been slow for new games, but there have been a few notable releases. While the ongoing pandemic has led to the delay of major sequels like Overwatch 2, the new FPS titles that launched this year have generated plenty of media buzz.
Here’s a roundup of the best FPS games playable right now, including titles released in previous years that received frequent content updates in 2021.
Halo Infinite, arguably the most-anticipated game of the year, was released on Nov. 15. It has a single-player campaign as well as multiplayer modes. In the single-player mode, gamers will spend plenty of time grappling around, swiping high-tech vehicles, and fighting challenging alien bosses.
For those familiar with Titanfall, Apex Legends‘ Pathfinder, or Overwatch‘s Widowmaker, the grappling hook will feel familiar yet organic to the game’s world. Halo Infinite‘s indoor and outdoor environments feel on-brand with previous Halo titles—not to mention graphically elegant. For many, Halo Infinite lives up to expectations and provides a satisfying update to the franchise.
Deathloop is a sci-fi single-player FPS title developed by Arkane, makers of Dishonored and Prey. The game that traps players in a never-ending loop was released on Sept. 14 this year and features two-handed first-person mechanics. Players must find and eliminate eight targets to escape the loop. There aren’t major time constraints, though, so curious completionists can explore the colorful, dynamic world and do side quests if they want to get the most out of the game.
Back 4 Blood
Back 4 Blood is an FPS developed by Turtle Rock Studios, the makers of Left 4 Dead. The game offers plenty of gory survival horror, zombies, and mutant creatures. Released on Oct. 8 this year, Back 4 Blood offers a cooperative mode and a fleshed-out campaign mode. For fans of the Doom franchise or survival titles like Dead by Deadlight, Back 4 Blood will feel like a fresh-yet-familiar experience.
Call of Duty: Vanguard
Call of Duty: Vanguard is a military-themed FPS created by Sledgehammer Games and released on Sept. 10 of this year. It’s set in the World War II time period and offers single and multiplayer game modes. In multiplayer, gamers can select “Combat Pacing” to get a match and map that aligns with the kind of combat and FPS experience they’re looking for. Players can choose from Tactical, Assault, and Blitz pacings, each offering a different map and varying number of total players.
The single-player campaign mode gives gamers a chance to experience battlefields from multiple different locations around the world. The fights are intense and the story a bit sensationalized at times, but Vanguard‘s strength is in its nonstop action. The campaign focuses on character development while keeping plenty of opportunities for FPS combat. Each character has different physical traits and abilities, so gamers can try out new skills with each character swap.
Even though Apex Legends has been out for nearly three years now, its developers at Respawn—makers of the Titanfall franchise—have continued to push out frequent updates, new game modes and maps, and new legends. This year, Apex saw its playerbase double on Steam since it was added to the PC platform in November 2020. Some websites estimate that Apex has a million active players online at any given time.
For those who might be wondering why Apex continues to be popular, look no further than to its developers’ continued commitment to releasing highly-requested content. After the release of Olympus and updates to Kings’ Canyon, some players begged for a new map that was larger, less open, and less prone to third parties. Respawn listened, releasing the massive, mountainous Storm Point on Nov. 2. Some also wanted a different game mode beyond the traditional battle royale, and developers launched the Arenas and ranked Arenas modes earlier this year.
Riot Games’ VALORANT continues to be among the most popular FPS games this year, with a steady Twitch viewership since its release. Developers have continued to create new content for the game, with four new agents in 2021. Duelist Yoru, controller Astra, initiator KAY/O, and sentinel Chamber joined VALORANT this year. The new additions have helped keep gameplay fresh and fans excited as they try out the new agents.