The Most Popular Shooting Games of All Time

the most popular shooting games of all time

Multiplayer and by extension competitive gaming has gone from strength to strength over the gradual evolution of the medium of video games. From people creating their own maps on DOOM to Mario Kart drinking games to global FIFA tournaments with huge cash prizes on the line, the niche of playing games against others has matured into a behemoth, offering anything from casual fun on weekends to the aforementioned big money events.

In that realm of PvP gaming, shooting games are one of the most popular and most watched, probably due to both the level of skill required to react, aim, and execute all the necessary moves and the ease that a spectator can understand and appreciate the quality and elegance of high level plays with little to no knowledge of the wider game. Also, with a reductionist view in mind, most people can grasp (and enjoy) the concept of grabbing a gun and shooting virtual enemies.

Today, we look at the pillars of the most popular shooting games of all time. The ten games that don the Mount Rushmore of shooters.

10 - Goldeneye 007

It’s thoroughly outdated now, and trying to adapt to playing on a Nintendo 64 controller in 2021 is like trying to solve a rubix cube with a frying pan, but Goldeneye 007 was a revolution for multiplayer gaming on consoles and is widely celebrated because of that. And since the game is so old, you have to consider on how much is 007 Goldeneye n64 worth to begin your gameplay journey.

Now I actually think 007 Nightfire was a way more accessible and fun multiplayer experience, but (along with a lot of other first-party Nintendo titles on the N64), the multiplayer of Goldeneye 007 n64 brought near endless amounts of fun to all ages during its tenure. The single player was a really fun and difficult (very difficult) challenge on its hardest difficulty as well, but today the PvP is cited as the inspiration for many people in the industry as to what spurred them to pursue a career in video games.

007 n64 hasn’t really stood up to the test of time, but with its customisable settings, modes, and maps, it's blatant why the game was so much fun.

Just don’t play as Oddjob. Don’t be that guy.

9 - Battlefield

It’s last entry (Battlefield V) divided fans and has given the series a bit of a lull, but people are eagerly awaiting to see what the next instalment in the Battlefield series will be, whether that be Battlefield 6 or a new Battlefield Bad Company game. Over the course of a number of games, it's become a true rival to other popular shooter Call of Duty, and for good reason.

While the naked eye will see Battlefield and Call of Duty as similar, mechanically they’re very different beasts. COD is a cinematic, style over substance (not that it doesn’t have some substance), arcade action affair. Battlefield is a shooting simulator, and I think that’s what gravitated people towards it over the other military gun fest.

Battlefield’s huge maps that house a literal army of players make COD’s Ground War look like a family picnic. It’s vehicles play a much bigger part, and it’s class and squad system means you’ll need a diverse bunch of players and coordinated teamwork to get the win in game modes like Rush and Conquest.

It’s these traits that keeps players coming back for more time and time again. And all the good memories from BF3, BF4, BF:BC… It keeps on giving. I hope when is the next Battlefield coming out, it won’t disappoint and give something new to experience.

8 - Overwatch

Becoming the definitive hero/squad based shooter, Overwatch has manifested into an incredibly popular shooter and naturally lends itself to the eSports scene, more known as Overwatch League, where the perfect blend of play styles and Overwatch characters/classes are required to get the victory. And even if you don’t understand what’s going on, the visuals and fluidity of the gameplay still make it a great spectator sport.

I think what makes Overwatch such a cool and satisfying game to watch above a lot of others is the range of mastery you can see across the different heroes, and how insane well-oiled units can steamroller parties that don’t know how to collaborate properly. Using Roadhog to make timed pushes, tearing through unsuspecting players behind enemy lines as Genji, a silent but deadly effective Lucio, seeing the skill ceiling that each character can be pushed to is the peak of competitive gaming in both actual play and viewing.

It’s a very difficult scene to enter into now, much like games like Rainbow Six Siege or Heroes of the Storm, the community is extremely fierce. However when everything works, there’s not many multiplayer games that feel as good as Overwatch does.

Also, there’s been a lot of talks happening on when is Overwatch 2 coming out, since first game had so much spark, the second version is expected that the Overwatch 2 release date is in 2022.

7 - Half-Life/Team Fortress 2

This would have been several places higher if there was any actual chance of getting Half-Life 3 this millennium, but when you count up the huge successes of both main Half-Life games and the new Half-Life Alyx game, the alternate perspective expansions like Blue Shift, the two tongue-in-cheek spin-off Portal titles, and the immensely popular multiplayer component (TF2), all games under the Half-Life umbrella are cherished by a lot of gamers.

Often found in most people’s “top favourite games of all time”, Half-Life is arguably Valve’s best series, and Portal let’s them explore a less serious avenue of the same universe with its unique puzzle shooting features. It’s Team Fortress 2 however that has garnered a monstrous audience that has stuck with the game for years and over the course of its life has become so popular it's spawned its own player to player marketplace. Considering when was Team Fortress 2 released, it’s still holding strong and till this day there’s still a very active community in the game.

TF2 delicately balances on an enticing tightrope; it’s simple enough to understand the concept of what each character does and how to play the game, but complex enough where playing the game well is a work of art that requires skill and dedication.

With the game Team Fortress 2 Classic having been around for a number of years, the standard has risen to very high levels for fresh players, but the game is still great fun after all this time.

6 - PlayerUnknown’s Battleground

The game that at the very least popularized the Battle Royale genre but fell victim to lingering in early access for a prolonged period of time, PUBG has thrived on mobile devices and in Eastern markets to become one of the most popular games in recent times. Not too many people know this but there’s also a PUBG Lite version of the game where it is remastered for older PCs.

While it’s been overshadowed in console and PC landscapes for most, PUBG Mobile racked up huge numbers last year in both downloads and revenue. In 2020, the mobile battle royale shooter was downloaded over 730 million times and generated over $2.6 billion in just twelve months. Excluding that, PUBG is trying to push it’s PUBG PS4 and PUBG Xbox One platforms to cherish even more.

To be fair, on what is PUBG, the game has grown considerably from the material that was on display at its inception. The developers have taken stock of what has been working for other popular titles and incorporated them into the game without them being ridiculously gimmicky, and owing to this, a resurgence has been born from this nurturing.

It might not be everyone’s first choice for a battle royale game, but game’s down earn PUBG’s numbers by accident.

5 - Halo

Halo Master Chief Master Chief collection reputation has weakened a bit with the troubles 343 Industries has had since manning the helm from Bungie, but the original trilogy of games were an epic triumph and almost single handedly made the original Xbox a success and kept Microsoft in the game.

As when did Halo come out, the first Halo game came out in 2001 November 15th - Halo: Combat Evolved that championed the original Xbox into a viable gaming brand thanks to its grandiose campaign and its extremely fun multiplayer. Halo 2 literally changed the game and pioneered internet gaming as a viable way for gamers to interact with Xbox Live. Finally, Halo 3 was a triumphant end to the trilogy with masterful displays in both single and multiplayer. Also a big shout out to Halo Reach for being another amazing entry in the franchise.

343 have had a turbulent relationship with the games thus far thanks to the woes of Halo: MCC and the fairly vanilla Halo 5: Guardians, but many fans and Xbox gamers are keeping their eyes firmly fixed on what Halo Infinite will bring to the Xbox Series X this year. Fingers crossed it will be a return to form for the Chief and the Halo PC version to be as good as ever was.

4 - DOOM

You can’t include a list about the most popular shooting games of all time and not include the game that started the genre in the first place. Since the game series is really old, most of players are wondering when did Doom came out, first game title came out in 1993 December 10th. The grandfather of shooting games conceived back in the early 90s, the newer recent entries published by Bethesda have continued the strong lineage of DOOM games.

The first two DOOM games set the world ablaze and were crashing day one servers long before games like World of Warcraft had those kinds of problems. I think DOOM became so successful because of how unapologetic it was and showed how you could make a gruesome, visceral, and kick ass video game. Hence why you could chainsaw pig-like aliens and zombie marines into a nasty fleshy mess.

Full of traps, secrets, puzzles, and mazes, DOOM kept players on their toes and heightened their paranoia when playing to a fever pitch. The modern games, such as DOOM Eternal, bathe in bloody glory of the brutality of the killing, the extreme difficulty, and of course, the awesome soundtrack.

3 - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

An eSports phenomenon, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the original first-person shooter that people wanted to watch and be the best at, and was the stage for what would become one of the biggest streaming stars on the internet, Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek.

The game where aim is king and mouse and keyboard are the weapons of mass destruction (controller players need not apply), CS:GO has seen the making of many professional gaming stars, generating star players from a number of different gaming teams the one that is known to everyone is s1mple who is one of the most known pro players in the whole eSports industry. Like a handful of other games that have gone on to achieve olympic heights of favour worldwide, Counter-Strike began life as a simple Half-Life mod and has grown into one of the premier battlegrounds of pro competitive gaming. Despite the competitive scene, the game has variety of CSGO skins that you can get, there’s also a lot of other game modes to play if you’re tired of shooting, such as CSGO surfing or bhoping.

As for when did CSGO come out, being released almost ten years ago, CS:GO still manages to draw in multiple million players every month. Very few games can boast that amount of adoration, which is why the game ranks so highly.

2 - Fortnite

I am really not a fan of Fortnite and the imprint it’s had on pop culture and the generation that followed mine, but you can’t ignore a game that has permeated through to general society in such a way and knowing how many people play Fortnite, it truly had a big impact in gaming and where it is at now. It’s had such an effect that parents have been known to pay for their kids to be professionally taught how to get better at the game.

The secret to Epic Games Fortnite popularity is the genius in its marketing. Epic Games have not only picked the right companies, brands, and people to do business with, but the timing on each event has been impeccable. They’ve thought outside the box. They’ve thought beyond just getting a skin here or a weapon decal there. They’ve gone the full nine yards and put Thanos in the game, you can play as Avengers, you can use weapons from Halo, Travis Scott did a virtual concert in the game for crying out loud.

Fortnite is nowhere near the best shooter mechanically or from a gameplay standpoint, but that almost makes it more impressive that it’s been so popular. It’s a testament to the power of marketing. The whole Fortnite battle royale eSport scene is going wild too, with the likes of Tfue, Ninja who are known to be Gods at the game makes it so unique.

1 - Call of Duty

Lots of people have their gripes with it, but there’s no denying that whatever angle you look at it, from number of players to unit sales to earned revenue, even looking at how many Call of Duty games are there, Call of Duty as an entire series has become a juggernaut of the video game world that has stormed its way to the top of the genre pile over the years.

Starting as a simple military shooter, the original Call of Duty sported a solid single player campaign but fans (particularly PC gamers) couldn’t get enough of the multiplayer. It was elegantly simple and felt great to play. Fast forward roughly 15 years, and COD has run the gamut going from the beaches of Normandy to the final frontier of space, returning to its more traditional roots in the most recent game and having ridiculous success with the battle royale mode, Warzone.

Like any series that’s subjected to annual releases it’s had its lower points, but since Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019), Call of Duty has regained its crown as one of the most popular shooters in the world, and judging by its sales figures from last year, this will continue for the near future. Adding the cherry on the top, that is Call of Duty Mobile, you have to know that Call of Duty can’t stop blooming, this time all the platforms are getting the love.

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