Top 21 Best First Person Shooter Games of Each Year (2000 - 2020)



Top 21 Best First Person Shooter Games of Each Year (2000 - 2020)

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
FPS games have evolved tremendously over the past 21 years! For this list, we'll be looking at the best first-person shooters of each year of the 21st century so far. Our countdown includes Counter-Strike, Metroid Prime, Half-Life 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Destiny 2 and more!
Script written by Mark Sammut

Top 20 Best First Person Shooter Games of Each Year (2000-2021)

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Best First Person Shooter Games of Each Year (2000-2021).

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best first-person shooters of each year of the 21st century so far. Only one entry per franchise will be included, so some great games will naturally miss out.

Which single-player shooter do you always return to? Let us know in the comments!

2000: “Counter-Strike”

Starting life as a "Half-Life" mod before being officially released by Valve, "Counter-Strike" took the online and local co-op scene by storm. While expanded on in sequels, the original "Counter-Strike" came out of the gate with an addictive gameplay loop that made it a must-own on PCs the second it was released. With tight gunplay and a solid range of modes that emphasize teamwork, "Counter-Strike" set a standard for online shooters that very few games have since managed to surpass. Even more than two decades later, "Counter-Strike" is still very much active.

2001: “Halo: Combat Evolved”

In a genre hardly lacking in iconic properties, "Halo" sits almost unmatched in terms of influence, prestige, and longevity. While Rare showed that first-person shooters can work on consoles, Bungie's Xbox exclusive proved that the genre could thrive away from PCs. Ambitious, a technical marvel, and narratively rich, "Halo: Combat Evolved" blended extremely satisfying gunplay with competent AI, plenty of open locations, and well-balanced weapons. "Halo" also made expert use of the Xbox's local multiplayer facilities, a revolutionary feature in the history of consoles. Bungie changed the genre in both huge and small ways; so much so that console shooters can be split into two eras: pre and post-"Halo."

2002: “Metroid Prime”

After nearly a decade of inactivity, "Metroid'' returned in a big way as Nintendo and Retro Studios took the influential franchise in a whole new direction. Gone was the 2D side-scrolling in favor of a 3D world primarily seen from a first-person angle, but "Metroid Prime'' retained the complex level design and splendid gameplay that had always defined the license. As Samus unlocks new abilities, the world expands, providing new ways to explore and things to discover. The gameplay is engaging, the bosses difficult, and the environments detailed; "Metroid Prime" is close to a perfect game.

2003: “XIII”

Boasting eye-catching cel-shaded visuals reminiscent of comic books, "XIII" is an absolute looker, but there is more to praise here than just stylish graphics. Based on a graphic novel and developed by Ubisoft, "XIII" tells an effective story filled with suspense and action; in fact, the game's narrative is its best feature. Mixing rudimentary gunplay, a decent arsenal of weapons, and stealth elements, "XIII's" gameplay was serviceable for its era, even if the game didn't excel in this area. "XIII's" high points are lofty enough that the game's flaws are far from deal-breakers.

2004: “Half-Life 2”

Valve and shooters go hand-in-hand, and "Half-Life 2" could very well be the studio's masterpiece. As great successors tend to do, Valve's sequel is bigger and arguably better than its predecessor, as Gordon Freeman leaves behind the confines of Black Mesa for an epic adventure. Backed by a fantastic physics engine, great visuals, enjoyable puzzles, and a story rich in world-building and characters, "Half-Life 2" is a spectacle from start to finish. Although never remotely boring, "Half-Life 2" evolves into a bonafide masterpiece once the Gravity Gun comes into play, which happens pretty quickly.

2005: “F.E.A.R.”

Perhaps the most incredible thing about Monolith Productions' first-person shooter is that it works as an action romp and also a horror extravaganza. "F.E.A.R." follows a special forces operator assigned to stop a deranged psychic and his cloned goons, a rabbit hole that leads to the introduction of the iconic Alma Wade. Backed by a fun slow-mo feature and respectable AI, "F.E.A.R." is thrilling when the bullets are flying, and the solid gunplay is complemented with some more cinematic moves. Periodically, "F.E.A.R." stops the action to throw out a fright, and the scares land more than they miss.

2006: “Resistance: Fall of Man”

A PlayStation 3 launch title that instantly made the console worth owning, "Resistance: Fall of Man" envisions a world where humanity is on the brink of annihilation at the hands of an alien race. As the story leads Captain Nathan Hale through a devastated United Kingdom, "Resistance" matches its grand narrative vision with incredibly fun combat and weapons. The single-player was worth the price of admission on its own, but "Resistance's" multiplayer was also impressive. The game supported online matches of up to 40 people and offered a decent selection of modes.

2007: “Team Fortress 2”

The classic team-based hero shooter, "Team Fortress 2" launched fully cooked and has only gotten better with age. Through its nine playable classes, Valve's multiplayer game ensures there is a character to suit everyone's needs while presenting an expertly balanced roster. With clearly defined roles for each class, streamlined gameplay, and a varied range of modes, "Team Fortress 2" is inherently accessible. For veterans of the genre, there is also enough of a learning curve to keep the gameplay interesting. "Team Fortress 2's" shelf-life speaks for itself, as Valve's game has continued to thrive as countless online shooters have come and gone.

2008: “Far Cry 2”

A significant upgrade over 2004's “Far Cry,” Ubisoft's sequel set a high standard for open-world shooters, particularly ones fond of realism. Set in Central Africa in a realm split by two warring factions, "Far Cry 2" sees one of nine playable characters trying to take down a nihilistic arms dealer. The world's beauty is only matched by the map's almost overwhelming size and its inhabitants' propensity for violence, presenting endless opportunities for destruction and chaos action. "Far Cry 2's" commitment to realism might occasionally be a touch frustrating, particularly its malaria system, but it helps set the game apart from other shooters.

2009: “Left 4 Dead 2”

Picture this: a group of four sit around a computer room and spend hours fighting off seemingly endless hordes of infected as they sprint to an extraction point. With the helicopter within reach, a Tank suddenly shows up and sends one of the survivors – probably Coach – flying to a chorus of cheers and boos from the rest of the room. This is the type of scene the "Left 4 Dead" games are known to inspire, as the co-op shooters cemented themselves as staples of LAN parties and the online landscape. With more infected, an enjoyable New Orleans setting, and expanded combat, "Left 4 Dead 2" refines its already immaculate predecessor, reaching unprecedented heights in the process.

2010: “Call of Duty: Black Ops”

Since the turn of the century, no other first-person shooter has been as inescapable as "Call of Duty." The franchise has gone through plenty of ups and downs, but "Black Ops" stands as one of the license's greatest achievements. The Cold War serves as the setting for the story, as "Black Ops" complements the series' trademark set-pieces with a genuinely interesting narrative filled with unforgettable characters. As "Call of Duty" had already established a winning formula for its multiplayer, "Black Ops" mainly builds upon what came before it. The game also throws out a great Zombies mode and one of the franchise's most iconic maps.

2011: “Battlefield 3”

Right from the get-go, Dice's shooter demands attention through its mesmerizing visuals and rewarding gameplay, the latter of which benefits from a decade of predecessors. While the single-player falls somewhat short, the same certainly cannot be said about "Battlefield 3's" multiplayer. Four versatile classes and a satisfying weapon progression and customization system underpin an experience defined by teamwork and size. "Battlefield 3" stages massive conflicts that are cinematic in their scale, as up to 64 players clash for supremacy using tanks, jets, and helicopters across a series of modes and maps.

2012: “Borderlands 2”

Yes, all of the guns, please. Expanding from the decent foundations of "Borderlands," Gearbox's sequel added an enjoyable story fueled by a phenomenal villain, doubled-down on the loot system to ensure a never-ending stream of rewards, and even packed in a few genuine laughs. While there are games out there with better gunplay, "Borderlands 2's" brilliance lies in its RPG elements, brazen personality, and replayability. The game's comic book style graphics instantly set it apart from other shooters on the market, and the visuals are just one factor that makes "Borderlands 2" such a singular entity.

2013: “BioShock Infinite”

After not handling the first sequel to the groundbreaking "BioShock," Irrational Games returned with "Infinite." Hard as it’s to look past the gorgeous and fascinating airborne city of Columbia, "BioShock Infinite" is ultimately about its characters, specifically Booker and Elizabeth, more than its setting. Putting aside the political and social themes touched upon by the game, "Infinite" tells a very human story about grief, regret, and choices. While streamlined, the gameplay produces its share of exciting moments, particularly whenever the sky-line is involved. The "Burial at Sea" episodes are also pretty darn good.

2014: “Wolfenstein: The New Order”

The Nazis won the war, leaving B.J. Blazkowicz with a lot of work to do. A triumphant return for one of the grandfathers of the fps genre, "Wolfenstein: The New Order'' delivers some good old-fashioned '90s mayhem, albeit with a modern edge. Armed with a gratifying arsenal of weapons that are primed and ready to reduce enemy soldiers and mechanical beasts to mush, "The New Order'' rewards an aggressive playing style while also providing room for stealth and even some cover play. The game takes its ludicrous story a bit too seriously at times, but Deathshead at least makes for a memorable villain.

2015: “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege”

This tactical shooter's story might start in 2015, but it surely doesn't end there. Ubisoft's "Rainbow Six Siege" launched in a respectable state, but the game has gone from strength to strength with each new season. "Rainbow Six Siege" pits attackers and defenders in strategic battles for supremacy, as teams seek to outmaneuver each other in ever-evolving and unpredictable matches. The game's well-rounded roster of operators is supported with well-balanced gadgets and weapons, presenting countless ways for teams to set up and execute their strategies. It might have taken a while, but "Rainbow Six Siege" eventually transformed into one of the best multiplayer shooters ever.

2016: “Overwatch”

Blizzard released the hero shooter to end all hero shooters, at least for any other game unfortunate enough to come out in 2016. "Overwatch" hits it out of the park in nearly every area while polishing a tried and tested formula to near perfection. The visuals, gameplay, and maps were welcoming to newcomers and veterans alike, presenting a game that worked – especially at launch – as both a casual and competitive experience. The entire package is founded on an incredible selection of heroes, not only for the versatility they offer to matches but also for the personality they inject into "Overwatch's" world.

2017: “Destiny 2”

It should go without saying that a Bungie game has pretty good gameplay, but still, it feels really good to shoot Hive and Vex enemies in "Destiny 2." Like its predecessor, "Destiny 2" launched with a solid base and plenty of room to grow, something that the "Forsaken" and "Beyond Light" expansions would take advantage of. Raids, the Crucible, a plethora of side-quests, enjoyable main campaigns, and an engaging leveling system, "Destiny 2" offers a ton of high-quality content. Everything is tied together through a combat system that delivers by-the-second thrills and endless entertainment.

2018: “Dusk”

A nostalgic fondness for classic shooters has allowed plenty of retro-inspired modern games to thrive, and few titles pay a heftier tribute to yesteryear than "Dusk." Packed with horror imagery and a surprisingly atmospheric episodic story, "Dusk" is a joyful return to the days when shooters crafted frantic symphonies of impactful weapons, pixelated body parts, and ceaseless explosions. Constant movement is the name of the game here as "Dusk" packs expertly crafted levels with all sorts of delightful monstrosities that are just destined to be blown away with the Riveter or the Super Shotgun.

2019: “Metro Exodus”

Following two entries primarily devoted to the Moscow underground, "Metro Exodus" decided to take a trip across Russia. Split into various wide open areas, each boasting a unique aesthetic, "Metro Exodus" swaps out linearity for exploration while still retaining the survivalist mentality that has always defined the series. As Artyom traverses the post-apocalyptic landscape, dangers lurk around every corner and inside most dark passages, be it from humans, mutants, or just the toxic atmosphere. "Metro Exodus" is a tense affair backed by immersive environments, a solid cast of characters, and scrappy fights where survival is never guaranteed.

2020: “Doom Eternal”

Earth is overrun with demons, which naturally just means the Doom Slayer has a lot to do. An extraordinary exercise in excess, "Doom Eternal's" combat is impeccable and blistering, and not only because the weapons are all glorious to use. Aggressive enemies and scarce ammo drops mean the Doom Slayer has to use every tool at his disposal, from the chainsaw to the meat hook and the flame belch. It’s not just about killing the Mancubus in front of you, but also making sure the Doom Slayer is prepared to take on the Hell Knight and Prowler that will inevitably follow.
Halo 3 for 2007