Video game shooters once dominated the gaming landscape. Today, well okay... they sort of still do. But, the variety and diversity of shooters has truly blossomed in the last few years. Now we have hardcore military sims, colorful live games filled with wild quests, VR titles pushing the bounds of what we can do in games, co-op adventures, and whatever Destiny 2 is these days. Truly a golden age of shooters is upon us, both old and new.
So here’s our list of the 10 best shooters from 2021. Some of these are brand new, while others have been around for a bit, but are still kicking ass and reloading well into 2021 thanks to ongoing events and updates.
First up, the new kids on the block. (The games that came out this year, not the band. At least, I don’t think so…)
Yes, it’s basically Left 4 Dead with some weird cards, but considering how I’ve been waiting forever for L4D3, I’m not complaining. Sure, I think the game is a tad too hard and I think the cards, while fun, can be too much for some folks to deal with right at the start. But once your wrap your head around the card system and play with a few friends, this update to the classic L4D formula is an undead-slaying blast of co-op goodness only slightly marred by some weird design choices and no offline progression.
What more is there to say? It’s a new Halo! That this game even exists at all is nothing short of a miracle. That it’s amazing as it is, and in the wild packaging it has—free-to-play multiplayer, expansive campaign, generally free of bugs—is a gift from the heavens, to lift a phrase from one of the PVP announcers. Halo Infinite could’ve landed as a solid first-person shooter and done fine. Instead, it’s the foundation of a kickass game we’ll no doubt be playing for years.
This is not really one game, but seven different indie horror shooters collected in one package that features its own meta-narrative. I don’t want to spoil too much of what you will find in The Hunt, as playing each game and digging in is half the fun. But there’s a game that feels like a demented cross between Pokemon Snap on the N64 and a deer hunting game infected by ancient gods of old and their disgusting creations. Good shit, is what I’m saying. Play it now.
Sure, I’ve bought and played a lot of versions of Capcom’s classic survival horror game. But none of them are as scary or intense as this year’s VR port. Often, I find 2D games in VR to be neat, but not worth my time. But RE4 VR is the rare exception that actually plays better in VR, thanks to some fantastic design choices and tweaks by the devs.
Technically released in 2019 on PC, I’m tossing this online arena shooter into the new games section because Splitgate really didn’t launch until earlier this year when it received a big update and made its way to consoles. Then it started breaking records and quickly became one of 2021’s biggest shooters. Any game that successfully mixes Halo’s action and flow with the wild portals from Valve’s Portal series was destined for greatness, even if it took a few years and some console ports to get there.
A bit odd to include a game in here that doesn’t feature guns, what is a boomerang if not a gun that returns to you? Maybe that’s not entirely accurate or even slightly, but whatever, Boomerang X might not be a shooter in the traditional sense, but it plays and feels a lot like the fast-paced shooters of old, like Quake. You do a lot of hopping and running around big arenas and thanks to the game’s ability to slow down time and zip around using magic, the action is not only fast, but impressively fresh feeling, too!
And now for the older shooters. Don’t let that sexy streak of silver in their non-existent hair fool you, these shooters might not be young but they are still killing it in 2021.
It’s a bit strange seeing Fortnite on a best shooters list, because for me it feels more like a quest-based RPG due to the continuing evolution of in-game missions. I play Fortnite to gain experience points and levels so I can collect all the items on the Battle Pass before the season ends. If people run into me while I am doing that, I shoot them, and I really enjoy doing it, so yeah-Fortnite gets a spot.
Destiny 2 launched in 2017 and in the years since it has continued to evolve and grow (and then sometimes shrink) into something very different than what it was back at launch. Sure, not every evolution or change has been loved by the diehard players who grind away in Bungie’s online looter-shooter, but the overall trajectory of Destiny 2 is mostly positive. And the last expansion was one of its best and its latest, a celebration of Bungie’s 30th anniversary, contains Starhorse. And we all love Starhorse.
Remember how terrible the Master Chief Collection was when it first launched? Remember the months and months and months of updates and broken shit players suffered through? You might not, because today, in 2021 the MCC has evolved into one of the best shooters you can play. Bundling up classics like Halo 3 and ODST and Reach into one package helps a lot, but it’s also the ongoing seasons, new content, and frequent improvements that make the MCC easily one of the best and most enjoyable shooters around.
One of the younger shooters among the ongoing hits we have listed, Valorant has already made a name for itself after launching last year. Sure, having to watch people play the game on Twitch for a chance to play early was sort of dumb, but since then Valorant has developed a large and skilled community of players. Its mix of CSGO-like tactical gameplay with magic, special abilities has created something special, and only a year in, there’s no telling what the next few years of Valorant will look like as developers Riot continue to tweak and improve things.
Of course, this isn’t a complete list of every popular shooter from 2021 and as such, it’s very likely we left off one of your personal favorites. Let us know what some of your preferred new or older ongoing shooters are in the comments below.