First-person shooter games have provided decades of entertainment for the ever-growing audience of world gamers.
From titles that pioneered the genre to those that elevated the genre to new levels with innovative gameplay mechanics, the first-person experience has always been unique for its ability to put the player directly in the shoes of the protagonist.
FPS games put us smack dab in the center of intense action and thrilling story, and it's a feeling that gamers crave and cling to. Being only able to see what's right in front of you helps stir up a kind of adrenaline rush that no other genre can match.
Here are our picks for the most revolutionary and innovative first-person shooter games in history, that helped launch and refine the genre we've come to know and love.
Doom caught the attention of early gamers. It was the first FPS game to dominate the hobby, with its iconic game design and sheer intensity that many modern FPS games still can't match.
The game became the spark for the FPS style, unique in its ability to keep gamers glued to their screens as they tried to beat back the onslaught of demonic creatures that threatened the world.
It delivered a thrilling gaming experience unlike any other at its time, and it's no wonder how it garnered legions of fans.
Looking back at it now, Doom did what few games have ever done in a constantly evolving industry: it stayed relevant. Sure, the graphics and interface are outdated, but the experience isn't.
Even younger gamers have a love for this game, and that's proof enough of how this FPS survived nearly 30 years and remains perfect.
GoldenEye 007 (1997)
With the attraction of becoming James Bond more than enough to garner massive amounts of attention, Goldeneye the video game is arguably better remembered than Goldeneye the movie - despite the game being based on the film.
What Doom did for FPS games, Goldeneye did for those that wanted to become their favourite action hero. Some will say that Perfect Dark is a better game, and they may have a point - although both games are based on the same structure and engine - however, Goldeneye captured an audience that legitimised IP gaming forevermore.
After Goldeneye, other titles from other franchises lined up to become video games - with the likes of Superman and Spider-Man all seeing the light of the gaming world in the ensuing years - admittedly to varying degrees of success.
As a FPS experience, Goldeneye offered what the gamer wanted - plenty of weapons and challenging moments to play through in a fun campaign. The effect it had on the gamers of the era sees the game still held in phenomenally high regard, with a place reserved in the hearts of the millions of people that played it back in 1997.
Call of Duty (2003)
While the original Call of Duty wasn't the first FPS game to put players in the middle of World War II, it was unlike any before.
Call of Duty showed us the thrill of storming the beaches of Normandy and invading Nazi-occupied Europe, and in doing so, it pushed aside all other competition.
The developers concentrated the gamer's visceral energy and made that the heart of the game, complete with bloody details and the cold brutality of war. It paved the way for the Call of Duty franchise, and that franchise hasn't looked back since.
There were World War II games before Call of Duty, including oft-mentioned favorites in Medal of Honor and Day of Defeat, but Call of Duty was so successful that it catapulted itself into being the number one FPS franchise for the experience of true war.
Call of Duty gave us an FPS experience that reacted to our yearning to be a soldier in war, allowing us to carve out our own paths as we participated in the fight against the Nazis.
Half-Life 2 (2004)
Half-Life 2 is a mythical title, so much so that new FPS gamers still go back and play it for the first time to see what they missed.
Half-Life 2 isn't just a video game. It's a symbol of what's possible in gaming and how a single release can advance the industry in so many directions: story, gameplay, technology, and more.
Consider by many as the best game ever made, the FPS aspect of Half-Life 2 took the genre to places that even the mightiest gaming houses and franchises—including Call of Duty—couldn't reach.
The gameplay mechanics, the story beats, the detailed perfection that pervaded every element of the experience have become the gold standard among video game developers.
Half-Life 2 is so well-remembered and iconic that Valve is reportedly too afraid to release their long-promised sequel in Half-Life 3, which can only disappoint fans who have spent nearly 20 years expecting a most perfect sequel to the most perfect game.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
How does a gaming franchise push the boundaries of its original idea to new heights? Well, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare demonstrated that with a flawless execution that floored the gaming world.
Activision took the best elements of their first three games and then rewrote the book entirely.
Call of Duty 4 wasn't just a next step for the franchise; it was the moment this franchise stood up and became a behemoth. This entry shifted from being one of many players in the FPS market into being the only game worth having across every single console.
The visceral story, the slick game engine, the cutting-edge graphics, and the refined gameplay mechanics all came together to deliver a spellbinding experience of betrayal in war—except this time updated to take place in our own contemporary era.
The FPS experience had never before felt as real and immersive as it did in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and some argue that it still hasn't been bested yet. The title changed online multiplayer gaming forever, becoming the standard for all future FPS games.