Shooter games are fun. You pick up a virtual gun, kill a bunch of virtual characters, do it all over again when they respawn, and swear to your parents that you are, in fact, not a murderer.
A fun process.
So what could possibly be better than a shooter game? If you’re into action games– and if you read the title of this article– then you’ll know the answer to that is first-person shooter games.
Immersive, tactical, and so darn visually appealing, FPS games have had gamers on chokehold for over forty years.
Popularized by Doom in 1993 and still making video game haters gnash their teeth today, first-person shooter games are the best thing to happen to gamers since pizza rolls.
While big names like Call of Duty and Apex Legends dominate the scene (and while I wish I could have worn an MJOLNIR armor to my high-school graduation), we’re here today to show some love to the unsung heroes of the FPS scene.
So, pocket your virtual trigger fingers, folks.
Here are 15 underrated first-person shooter games you should be playing right now.
1. The Darkness
Developer(s): Starbreeze Studios
Consoles/Platforms: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
Ever wondered what it feels like to eat a heart? Can’t say I’ve thought about it, but if you’re curious, turn your eyes to The Darkness and let your curiosity be sated.
Following the story of Jackie Estacado, a dude nearly assassinated by his uncle on his twenty-first (talk about tough love), this game offers dual pistols and a range of other weapons.
You also get to unleash the powers of The Darkness on anyone who comes your way.
This includes nifty little features like summoning imps appropriately named ‘Darklings’, creating black holes, and of course, letting the Darkness devour the hearts of your enemies to increase your power.
Due to basic bugs and AI problems, the game did not-so-good among critics, but it is a favorite among players who know a good thing when they see one.
The Darkness’ dark, gothic plot, coupled with the wide range of powers you get to play with, makes it an underrated game.
Developer(s): Southend Interactive, Ubisoft Paris
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and GameCube; an Xbox
Spelled ‘XIII’ and not ‘Thirteen’ for some strange reason, you might know this game because it got a 2020 remake that had both gamers and critics in agreement for the first time in a long time; it was absolutely abysmal. But before the failure that is 2020’s XIII, the 2003 video game of the same name was a much more pleasurable experience.
Comic-book style display, incorporation of single and multiplayer modes, an amnesiac, and a really fun-to-say title, 2003’s XIII follows the story of a man who wakes up injured and only remembers three things.
He remembers that he was shot while trying to escape from a boat, that he has a bank deposit key, and that the tattoo of the Roman numeral XIII on his right shoulder could just have been spelled ‘Thirteen’.
Okay, that last point was a stretch, but you get the gist.
The plot was adapted from a Belgian graphic novel, and its comic book origins were intentionally translated into the game.
If you perform a headshot, you’ll get wicked comic-style illustrations detailing it, including sound bubbles for effect.
Heck, even the characters are deliberately cell-shaded to allow you to say, ‘hey, I read a comic, but it was a game!’
You get 13 chapters and 34 missions to figure out who this numbered man is, plus a variety of weapons from knife to bazooka to broom– my mum would love that.
The original game got mixed reviews, and because the remake was an unfortunate hot mess, most people have gone without playing this hidden gem.
We think it’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
3. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Saddle up your horses, get ready for a quick draw duel, and escape the sheriff, except you are the sheriff.
In that case, chase down black-hat-wearing no good outlaws; it’s the wild west, and you’re the law around these parts.
At least, in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, you are.
You play as Billy ‘Candle’, an average cowboy who comes home to find his mother and stepfather murdered.
Believing the killer to be Billy himself, step-uncle and ex-gunslinger-turned-preacher, Ray McCall decides to take justice from the Lord’s hands and do his nephew in. while.
At this point, if you’re wondering what’s with video game uncles and trying to kill their relatives– so am I.
You play by alternating between murderous uncle Ray and recently-orphaned Billy, both of who have their own unique game style.
While Billy’s levels are partially stealth-based, Ray’s more traditional shoot ’em up gameplay is fitting for his character, and as a bonus, Ray can also wield a Bible.
If you try to shoot while holding a Bible, Ray will quote a random passage, causing enemies to panic and drop their weapons, freeze, or run away. Nothing says ‘arrested by the Holy Ghost’ better than that, folks.
You know the game is underrated when it gets mixed reviews.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger scored an average on both PC and Xbox 360 versions.
However, if classic, wild western is right up your lane, this is the game for you.
4. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
Developer(s): Free Radical Design
Consoles/Platforms: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox
Looking for a wacky, comedic story-based game featuring time traveling, space marines, and enough action to keep you on your toes? Well, you’ll find it in the fan-favorite TimeSplitters series.
This early 2000s game series is almost forgotten by new audiences, but real ones would remember Sergeant Cortez, the time-traveling space marine who tells jokes dry enough to make crisps seem like a juicy snack.
Future Perfect is the third game in the series where you play as the protagonist, Sgt. Cortez.
You crash on future earth and decide to use time crystals to go back in time and stop the creation of the TimeSplitters race.
You run into a mad scientist, and thankfully not his uncle Dr. Jacob Crow, a man who keeps jumping into various timeliness and messing things up like the jerk he is.
As Cortez, it’s your job to stop Crow. The story is packed with iconic characters, fun action scenes, and lighthearted lewd jokes.
If you think about the time travel aspect too hard, you’ll find that it has enough holes to make a basket look like it could hold water. But, the thing about the TimeSplitters series is it’s supposed to be fun and lighthearted. Don’t take it too seriously, and you’ll love it.
The Future Perfect story mode only takes about seven hours to complete, and anyone who knows this game knows that that’s only the crust of the toast.
Playing arcade and challenge mode gives you more characters, weapons, and reasons to keep whiling your youth away.
Developer(s): Propaganda Games
Consoles/Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
What do you think would happen if you brought a dinosaur to a gunfight? No one was wondering that, but Turok still came along and answered it.
This 2008 hidden gem follows the story of space marine Joseph Turok, a buff guy with big guns sent to a remote planet to apprehend war criminal General Roland Kane, another buff guy with big guns.
You can use dinosaurs to finish enemies, stab a velociraptor in the chest, or stuff a grenade in the eye of Momma Scarface (the gigantic female Tyrannosaurus rex that’s a thorn in the side of you and your enemies).
Turok is a fun game that got average reviews, but a first-person shooter game featuring dinosaurs is definitely worth checking out.
6. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad
Developer(s): Tripwire Interactive
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows
If you’ve played Call of Duty 2, you’d know there is joy in a badass tactical FPS.
It also means you’ll love Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad.
This tactical, first-person shooter game is set in World War II and is complete with historically accurate details, realistic weapons, and solid gameplay.
The game is focused on the Battle of Stalingrad and the Pacific Theater
Essentially, it is the game you wish your history teacher recommended to you instead of some old textbook.
Currently, the series is a Windows exclusive, which might explain why it’s not as popular as games released for consoles, but Red Orchestra 2 is a game every gamer needs to play at least once.
7. Darkwatch: Curse of the West
Developer(s): High Moon Studios
Consoles/Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox
If Blade, Django, and your favorite steampunk characters had a baby, Darkwatch would be it.
Seamlessly blending horror, steampunk, and western aesthetics into this one game about a badass vampire, Darkwatch is no Twilight, and thank goodness it isn’t.
In this game, you’re Jericho Cross– a cowboy turned vampire– conscripted into an ancient vampire-hunting order to defeat the vampire lord, Lazarus Malkoth.
Aside from having the most dramatic name ever, Lazarus keeps sending hordes of the undead after you, and you have to kill them, as is the case with FPS games.
During the day, you fight as a human with guns. But at night, your vampiric powers unfold with, my two favorites, Black Shroud– a power that lets you steal the life force of nearby enemies, and Soul Stealer– the ability to destroy nearby enemies and steal their souls.
Aside from the wicked plot, solid gameplay, and awesome attacks, you can choose how the game ends. You heard me, gamer-nerd; the story highlights Cross’ slow descent into darkness
So you get to choose whether you want to end as a good guy or a bad guy… or you could just play the game twice.
Darkwatch is almost forgotten, but if you don’t want to pass up the chance of a great plot-driven FPS, then it’s a must-play.
Developer(s): People Can Fly, Epic Games
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Bulletstorm is a game that focuses on combat, and boy, does it make that combat wild.
Even though the game only features eight weapons, each of them comes with its own distinct characteristics, and the more you get creative with them, the more skill points you’re awarded.
Want to kick an enemy in the nuts? Go for it. How about making them levitate before finishing them off? Sure, why not? Remote-control a killer dinosaur? The sky’s the limit.
Though Bulletstorm received positive reviews, it’s mostly fallen to the wayside, but this game awards you for getting creative in making enemies bleed. It’s definitely worth playing.
Developer(s): Respawn Entertainment
Consoles/Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox 360
The 2014 predecessor to Apex Legends Mobile and one of the most highly anticipated games of its time, everybody wanted a piece of Titanfall back in the day because its developers formerly worked on the Call of Duty franchise. This is why everyone took a nibble of the cheese that is Titanfall and nearly forgot about it.
This is unfair because Titanfall is a great multiplayer futuristic sci-fi game. You and your buddies can play as ‘Pilots’ that can summon mechas and fight six-on-six matches or complete team-based objectives set in war-ravaged space colonies.
Titanfall is praised for its free player mobility controls and for paving the way for recent popular first-person shooters like Apex Legends, but it lost its steam just months after its release.
10. S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat
Developer(s): GSC Game World
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows
A first-person shooter survival horror game, anyone who knows the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series would tell you Call of Pripyat is one of the greatest survival games of all time.
Of course, like everything that could be debated, the horror plot, amazing graphics, solid gameplay, post-apocalyptic atmosphere, and character designs are noteworthy.
Most people hate how realistic the post-apocalyptic lore is, but if you’re going to make a game centered on a ghost town near a Nuclear Power Plant, you might just make it realistic enough for gamers to feel it.
If the-world-just-ended, help-I’m-just-trying-to-live games are your thing, Call of Pripyat won’t disappoint.
11. Shadow Warrior 2
Developer(s): Flying Wild Hog
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
With a story centered on a member of the Yakuza and gameplay that trumps that of its predecessor, Shadow Warrior 2 can be played in either single-player or four-player co-op mode.
Whoever has the controller is Lo Wang, so that’s who you are– a guy sent by the Yakuza to retrieve an ancient artifact.
This plot is solid enough to break a window. It also features good level layouts and an upgraded leveling and looting system. Shadow Warrior 2 might just be your favorite.
Developer(s): Raven Software
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Get ready to manipulate time with this pseudo-historic first-person shooter game because it’s the closest you’ll ever feel to Thanos.
The plot of Singularity is set in 1955 and centered around Nathaniel Renko, some guy you won’t remember because you’re too busy messing with time as you move through the story.
You’ve got a Time Manipulation Device (TMD), and you can use it to rewind, fast forward, and freeze time as you wish.
Imagine taking the most seamless headshot you’ve ever had the privilege of performing in the virtual realm and stopping time at just the right angle to brag about it later.
Sure, you can only use this power on certain enemies and objects, but the cut-throat aesthetics of Singularity make it totally worth it.
Developer(s): Human Head Studios
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Mac OS X, Symbian, Linux, Zeebo
No, I’m not talking about the 2022 movie. Neither am I talking about the 2017 game. The year is 2006, and on screen, you, your girlfriend, and your grandfather have just been kidnapped by aliens.
Okay, not you but your character Cherokee man, Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi.
First-person shooter games have always been a sweet way to get in the zone and slay enemies.
But now, you get to do that with crazy visuals, portals, playing with gravity, and spirit walking– yes, your character can literally leave his body and take a stroll.
As Tommy, you navigate the alien spaceship you’ve been trapped in, learn how to use your spirit powers to your advantage, and kill aliens.
Top-notch graphics combined with the gripping plot and stellar gameplay serve to Prey’s advantage, and although naysayers would tell you it’s not worth it, 2006’s Prey is an underrated banger of a game.
14. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Shanghai
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia
Any gamer worth their ‘life is a game’ t-shirt knows Ubisoft for the badass games they drop like pennies from their trove, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is no exception.
This FPS game leans heavily into the 80’s movies that inspired it, paying homage to the Wraith and Terminator with in-game references.
Set in a dystopian 2007 because the actual 2007 wasn’t dystopian enough, the plot follows a simple, linear action storyline; get a girl, kill bad guys, save the world, and be home in time to watch the game.
The Far Cry franchise is a big name in the industry. So, if you’re a noob and haven’t heard of it before, now you have.
Unfortunately, even though Blood Dragon was a stellar game that didn’t have critics and the audience at each other’s throats, it wasn’t a major release– more of a spin-off of a major release– so many people overlooked this game.
It’s underrated and you should play it if you have the chance.
Developer(s): Saber Interactive
Consoles/Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Who doesn’t love a good sci-fi plot? Nobody, that’s who. And when time travel is sprinkled into the mix, it is seasoned with memorable gameplay and served with good graphics? That’s a great game salad for you to get your fingers on.
In TimeShift, big-brained scientists make two cool-looking time-traveling suits.
One suit gets stolen by a big-brained scientist who travels into the past, alters the timeliness, and makes himself the supreme ruler of all.
Although that sounds like what I’d do if I could manipulate time, we gamers play as an unnamed scientist who has to stop evil Dr. Aiden Krone– the scientist-turned-supreme-overlord.
You can control time however you want, stop it, slow it, or even rewind it when you want to dodge a bullet or steal a weapon. You also solve time-related puzzles as you advance through the plot.
TimeShift is a simple time travel sci-fi game. It doesn’t go for overreaching, confusing plots, and the gameplay is fine.
The plot may be a bit underwhelming, but if you’re looking for an easy FPS game to turn off your brain with, TimeShift is for you.
Which are you going to play next?
So, that’s it, folks. Fifteen first-person shooter games that are criminally underrated.
Do you recognize any of these titles? Or are you just looking for an underground game to flex on your friends? Either way, I’m sure you’ll find something you like in this list. And, if you don’t, I could always just make another.