I used to roll my eyes at first-person shooters.
I grew up a gamer, sure, but I wasn’t that kind of gamer. Shooters were always low-cerebral, appeal-to-the-lowest-common-denominator kinda thing. The type of game I knew existed as surely as I knew they weren’t for me. Anytime I handled a virtual gun it was merely as a by product of a genre I loved (usually horror – thanks, Capcom!). So yeah, I fired guns, I guess, but only because my zombie game made me do it.
Thing is, everything you love about other genres of games – puzzles, stories, characters, world-building – can be found in shooters, too, and once I realised that (albeit belatedly)… well, I think I fell in love.
TL;DR – that’s why I’m LPVG’s resident shooty bang bang person.
While FPSs are often the type of game that gets overlooked in favour of those packing more story than bullets, 2016 offered up a particularly sublime selection of stunning shooters. Many made my shortlist – where honourable mentions include Battlefield 1 and Doom to name but two – but here’s my three of the best, starting with…
We fell hook, line and sinker for Blizzard’s smart, savvy shooter thanks to its pick-up-and-play action. While most of the genre takes itself impossibly seriously, Overwatch splashed onto to scene with its day-glo colours and bright, gloriously diverse cast, introducing a whole new gaggle of gamers to the wonder of online, character-based competitive play.
Whilst, admittedly, the gunplay is stunted and a tad repetitive, you’ll play best when you play as a team, or when you’re working the game’s bold, bright backdrops to your advantage. Experimenting with the roster, trying out different perks, finding the one that works best for your particular mode of play… few games have offered such satisfying team-based action this year that’s as accessible as it is enjoyable.
Destiny: Rise of Iron
Whereas The Taken King heralded a new, narrative-driven dawn for Destiny, the Rise of Iron failed to match its predecessor’s tourniquet-tight storyline. Once again, you’ll be able to finish the story missions in one sitting and once again, you’ll watch the final cut-scene and wonder what the hell you’re doing still playing this.
But like TTK, the final story mission is really where Bungie’s wonderful world really comes alive.
While it sometimes shows its age, the sci-fi shooter excels in extravagant world-building and stunning backdrops, complete with new (and new old!) weapons, rolls, and perks to keep even veteran Guardians coming back for more. While new twists on old quests do refresh the sometimes stale gameplay, it’s the gunplay that hooks you. It may not be the prettiest anymore, but this nevertheless remains the best shooter on the Cosmodrome.
It’s so easy to write off games with guns as shallow experiences lacking in story and depth, and as such few games have been as criminally overlooked as Titanfall 2 this year.
To even attempt to explain why this game is my shooter of the year is to risk spoilers, so I’ll keep it brief, but few games this year – shooter or otherwise – have delivered such a tight, tantalising single-player campaign with such devastatingly smooth multiplayer play, too. All that irked us in the prequel have been addressed, while all the strengths – including the bond with your mountainous Titan wingman – have been tweaked and tightened into a polished package. Both the single- and multiplayer experiences have been carefully crafted and my god, does it show.
The intuitive controls, smooth shooting and seamless traversing make this not just one of the best shooters of 2016, it makes it one of the best games overall. Period.