In an overcrowded genre, these ten games managed to stand the tallest.
From the budding years of our industry and the days of DOOM and Quake to the modern era, the days of Halo and Call of Duty, the importance and popularity of the genre of shooters has never waned. In 2018, we saw a mix of returning behemoths of the shooter genre, and smaller titles that came out of nowhere and surprised us with how good they were. Here, we’re going to talk about ten of our favourite shooters in 2018, before picking out the one that we loved more than all the others.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE NOMINEES ARE…
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4
Call of Duty made a very controversial decision this year when, for the first time in its entire history, it decided to skip the single player campaign altogether, instead deciding to cash in on the battle royale craze and give us a Call of Duty experience like we’ve never seen before. And though the change surely upset a lot of people, when Black Ops 4 launched and we all got to go hands-on with it, we realized that it was the best decision it could have made. The deadly trio of multiplayer, Zombies, and Blackout collectively makes for one of the best and most enjoyable Call of Duty titles we’ve played in years. From its mix of the fast, slick gameplay we’ve come to expect from Black Ops titles, and focus on teamwork and (relatively more) tactical gameplay in multiplayer, to Blackout, which is probably the most polished battle royale experience out there, to Zombies, which is crazier and more outlandish than ever, Black Ops 4 has something for everyone.
FIREWALL: ZERO HOUR
Every year, we get an increasingly higher number of games that show just what VR is capable of. Firewall: Zero Hour was one of those games this year. It’s a game that takes the military shooter experience that traditional games have pretty much perfected by now, and then miraculously translates that perfectly into virtual reality. Firewall: Zero Hour is thrilling, well-designed, and utterly immersive. It looks excellent, feels slick, and though it’s somewhat lacking in modes that can can you coming back, the novelty of being able to play an excellent shooter in VR is more than enough to get you to do that.
EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5
Earth Defense Force 5 is dumb. For any other game on the planet, that would be a pretty harsh criticism, but for this franchise, that’s a strength. Earth Defense Force knows its dumb, it constantly tries to be dumber, and in the end delivers good, dumb fun. Earth Defense Force 5 is all that- just more of it, and better than ever before. It’s a lengthy romp through mindless carnage, fueled by the shooting of armies of bugs with big, awesome guns, and it never tries – or wants – to be anything more than that. Sure, it’s shallow, but when shallow is this much fun, it’s hard to mind it too much.
WARHAMMER: VERMINTIDE 2
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 knows exactly what makes the looter genre tick, and it knows exactly what made its predecessor tick, and it builds on both those things excellent. Combat in Vermintide 2 is brutal and incredibly satisfying- each weapon feels weighty and kicks like a mule. The lootgrind is dangerously addictive, which is exactly what you would expect from a game like this, and is intrinsically tied with a deep and rewarding progression system. All of that, combined with an interesting setting, beautiful art, and challenging difficult make for a game that, if you get into it, you’ll be coming back to again and again.
After five long years in early access, DayZ finally has launched to the masses as a full 1.0 release. Five years is a long time to wait for anything, and whether or not it used those five years in development well is another discussion entirely, but in the here and now, DayZ is a lot of fun. It’s a game that still needs work, sure, but while you’re actually playing it, it’s easy to find enjoyment for yourself. From the shooting, to the game’s intense atmosphere, to its survival elements, there’s a lot here that all comes together to deliver a pretty solid experience that has the potential to grow even further.
Battlefield 5 was very much an evolution rather than a revolution, taking what had worked so well in Battlefield 1 in 2016, and building upon it in clever ways. The War Stories structure of the campaign made for three solid single player outings, just as most had predicted they would, while on the multiplayer side of things, Battlefield 5 made some smart tweaks and balancing changes to put even more of a focus on squad-based play. There’s a perfectly valid argument to be made that the game launched in a bit of an incomplete state, with a lot of content missing from it at the time of release, but the silver lining is that DICE are going to deliver a great deal more content as time goes on, and it’s all going to be free.
If you’ve got a hankering for a retro style shooter, Overload is exactly the fix you need. What sets this game apart, though, is that it goes beyond the trappings of just being a nostalgic pander, and actually makes an identity for itself with some innovative ideas and design quirks. It puts players into a 3D space, allowing them six degrees of freedom movement- but in zero gravity environments. Those two simple yet distinct things come together to make for an experience that is very different from your typical shooter, and thanks to immaculate execution, also an absolute blast. It features some smart level design, and thrilling action, and though things such as sudden difficulty spikes and occasional repetition are flaws that shouldn’t be ignored, the net result is still a game that shouldn’t be missed by fans of the genre.
FAR CRY 5
The Far Cry franchise had settled into a very comfortable groove since its resurgence in 2013, building stories and chaotic gameplay around a very structured open world approach that had, to be fair, worked very well for it over the course of a few games. With Far Cry 5, Ubisoft decided to take a risk, even though they didn’t really need to, and it paid off in spades. Far Cry 5’s open world is fluider and more organic than any other in the series, and while focusing on systems-based emergent gameplay, promotes the same brand of mayhem and bombastic action that the series has come to be known for. As such, Hope County, Montana feels pleasantly different, but comfortably familiar all the same.
JUST CAUSE 4
Just Cause has always prided itself on being the most testosterone-fueled experience on the market, and though Just Cause 4 is not a game without failings, it certainly lives up to the billing of the franchise it belongs to. And while it makes the expected improvements with more robust tools with which to wreak havoc, it also makes other notable changes that make it even more of a blast- quite literally, at times. From the extreme weathers, to the updated physics engine, to just pure, carnage-filled fun in an open world that is large and beautiful, Avalanche Studios’ Just Cause 4 has a great deal going for it.
Strange Brigade can, on paper, be called a co-op shooter that takes several cues for Left 4 Dead, and while it certainly is that, that is also an oversimplification. Because yes, while it is evokes Left 4 Dead a great deal, it does it all in a distinct manner, with unique flavour and style. Its campy presentation and humour lend it personality, its interesting setting makes for some great visual treats, its light puzzle solving helps break up the action every now and then, while great level design also stands as one of its biggest strengths. And, of course, the pure and simple act of mowing down hordes of enemies is extremely enjoyable, and ensures that there’s never a dull moment.
AND THE WINNER IS…
FAR CRY 5
Far Cry 5 is decidedly different from the last two numbered titles in the series, in that it demphasizes story, and focuses squarely on emergent open world gameplay. You’re a mute protagonist, the progression of the story is – for the most part – unstructured, and barring some segments that force you into particular narrative moments, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want. And it works excellent, serving as the perfect foil for Far Cry’s brand of action. Hope County, Montana is an excellent setting, and exploration is constantly engaging. The shooting feels slick and tight, which means any time there’s action to be had, it always ends in thrilling and tense encounters. Combined with light-RPG mechanics and a ton of great side content to dive into, Far Cry 5 is a game that can easily provide you with dozens upon dozens of hours of excellent gameplay- most of which, best of all, will be of your own making.