10 Most Influential First-Person Shooters of All Time

by Stephen Heller Featured 24 Comments 33 Votes 5170 Views 28/08/2012 Back to Articles

While this generation of gaming has been utterly dominated by first-person shooters, you may find it hard to believe that on the whole, it has been rather stale in terms of innovation. While many have featured epic stories, memorable characters of blazing online features, will they be strong enough to hold any real influence on the next generation of shooters?

Here's our list of the ten most influential first-person shooters, a genre that may be over-crowded but isn't short of any true gems.

10: Crysis | Crytek, 2007| PC, Xbox 360

On the surface, Crysis could be considered a glorified tech demo showing of the prowess of the CryEngine; most people at launch couldn't even run the game on their expensive rigs, but those who could found an expansive environment that pushed the limits for exploration and open-world shooters.

9: GoldenEye 007 | Rare, 1997| Nintendo 64

Not only is in contention for the best movie-based game of all time, but there is no denying that GoldenEye 007 paved the way for shooters on the home console. While many developers had tried, GoldenEye 007 was utterly perfect at the time, ushering in a whole new genre onto home consoles that spawned many great games such as Perfect Dark.

8: System Shock 2 | Irrational Studios, 1999| PC

The grandfather to BioShock, System Shock 2 was the first game to truly blend first-person shooters, role-playing games and horror elements into a compelling experience. The story still holds up today, and despite it's age, it still offers a chilling adventure.

7: Quake 3: Arena | id Software, 1999| PC, Mac, Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox 360

It's been released on almost every platform known to man, and that is a true testament to how influential this game really was. Quake 3: Arena was the first Quake game not to feature a single-player component, forcing players online to compete in fast-paced deathmatch gameplay. This helped nurture an entirely new element of competitive online gaming, and became the benchmark for online shooters for years to come.

6: Halo: Combat Evolved | Bungie, 2001| Xbox

GoldenEye may have brought first-person shooters to the home console, but Halo: Combat Evolved perfected it for modern controllers. Featuring an epic space opera story, blistering multiplayer, and a control scheme that became standard for shooters on every console, you can't deny Halo's impressive reach (see what I did there) in the industry.

5: Unreal | Epic MegaGames, 1998| PC

Unreal was the first shooter to feature a truly open terrain map, allowing the player to go off the beaten path and explore. It also helped to usher in the Unreal Engine, a powerful tool that powers some of the biggest games in the industry today. Cliffy B also worked on the project, marking one of his finest moments in his career.

4: Half-Life | Valve | PC, PS2

Half-Life simply blew everyone away when it appeared out of thin air in 1998. Valve's first major release would go on to become widely regarded as one of the best PC games of all time and help shape the future of the FPS genre. Scripted sequences backed up by impressive and visual and audio design, the game was destined to lead the industry for years to come.

3: Wolfenstein 3D | id Software, 1992 | PC

How could this list be complete without the founder of the entire genre? id Software created the first-person shooter overnight with the release of Wolfenstein 3D, the first true shooter from the perspective of the player character. Featuring some truly magnificent design choices, the influence this shooter has had on the gaming industry is more than words could ever describe.

2: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare | Infinity Ward, 2007| PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Mac, Wii

Before Call of Duty 4, the series was known as a decent competitor to the Medal of Honor franchise from EA. However when the series dropped the World War II setting in favour for something a little more modern, the industry was blown away. It single-handedly changed the online shooter market, employing a deep and engaging unlock system based on XP that seemed more at home in an RPG over a shooter. The rest is history, Call of Duty is the biggest selling video-game in the world, and this title started it all.

1: Doom II: Hell on Earth | id Software, 1994| PC

Wolfenstein 3D may have fathered the genre, but Doom II gave it life. This horrific shooter set the standard for all shooters moving forward, tightly integrating fantastic gameplay mechanics, expert level design, intense sound and a modding community that has seen the game survive for well over a decade.

By Stephen Heller

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10 Most Influential First-Person Shooters of All Time Comments

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you missed medal of honor
cant fault any of these on the list. DOOM II was great and a lot harder but I don't understand why DOOM wouldn't rate ahead of it? I guess it wowed me cause it was the first game to show me what multi-player gaming was like - It did after all coin the word "deathmatches" and had some pretty sweet level design too.

I guess you had to choose between UNREAL that started it all and unreal tournament which I felt was a much better experience than arena even though I loved both at the time.

Some honourable mentions DUKE 3D (a fresh change to all that demon spawn), Tribes and Battlefield 1942. The latter introducing me to large scale team gaming.
I take it these are not in order? cause id have to disagree with the whole list :P
Definitely missing a few, plus that pic is not System Shock 2 its the first one.
yeah I thought system shock 2 was looking a little dated. Man I loved that game. I remember getting my hands on the demo from a magazine and *Drooling*

Also COD4 is looking very retro with that image of *Cough* wolfenstein. Must have had a change of mind ;)

Come to think of it, I have a lot of fond memories of FPS. Nowadays, I'm just over most of the new ones out.
Unreal Tournament destroys Quake 3 Arena imo. They provided free, yes FREE DLC packs on several occasions, released mod tools which have seen the creation of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of user maps, skins, gamemodes etc. It has set the standard, and its a standard that has failed to be reached since the original Unreal Tournament was released. The FPS genre has gone backwards since 1999.
I did realise CoD4 had such aged graphics...

Pilkingbod said: I did realise CoD4 had such aged graphics...

And people say they only re-skin the game every year, shows what they know.
I got back into CoD4 recently but unfortuantely the community is shithouse. Most lobbies are either booster lobbies or hacked, and the only fun mode -- Ground War -- is basically just a sniper-fest: absolutely everyone has a sniper trying to do trick shots.

You occasionally get a decent lobby but it's rare. Such a great game but unfortuantely it will eventually die out completely.

Not sure what the PC community is like, though.
I have no idea what happened to the images, they were fine on my PC when I posted this. Fixing it up now!
Can i ask though, is this meant to be in order? cause if it is you bin smoking some strong s*** man...

OllyEbbz said: Can i ask though, is this meant to be in order? cause if it is you bin smoking some strong s*** man...

Opinions are like arseholes...
Doom sure was influential if you catch what I'm implying [Shifty]
Call of Duty is probably the only series that would have entries in both "most influential" and "most disappointing" FPS.

Finest Hour on consoles was awful compared to the PC version, which was awesome.
Here's the beauty of MMGN - if you don't agree with our lists you can just make your own and place it as an article ;)

Doom II was picked over the original simply because of the absolutely massive and diverse modding community.
You Forgot Resistance 1

xxLCr0wxx said: you missed medal of honor

yeah without Medal of Honor there wouldn't be Call of Duty.
u missed half life 2
Ummmm no Counter Strike?!!

gammaray13 said: You Forgot Resistance 1

gammaray13 said: You Forgot Resistance 1

Right..... [MOG]
Was expecting to come to this list and see it full of crap games. Am pleasantly surprised.
Good list guys, can't fault it as a top ten, so many classics
You forgot Marathon...which would also technically mean forgetting also Pathways into Darkness :P
Rise of the Triad, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, and Quake II. But especially Quake II should have somehow been on this list [Shifty]

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