Last Updated on by
To this day, shooter games are some of the most popular games in the market, making millions of dollars for developers and publishers. And with the advent of high-speed internet, shooter games now bring together millions of players from around the world together to duke it out in virtual battlegrounds. But if playing with other real people isn’t your thing, or prefer a shooter game, you can play solo, and anytime, then the best single-player shooters are available for you. The granddaddy of the first-person shooter games that made the genre famous is a single-player shooter.
Best Single Player Shooters
🏆 Our Honorable Picks🥇
» Best Overall For 2020: Borderlands 2 at Amazon
“The combination of not-so-serious gameplay, rich storytelling, and character customization makes Borderlands 2 our top pick for the best single-player shooter game.”
» Best Classic Reboot: Doom 2016 at Amazon
“You take the role of a nearly unstoppable killing-machine that heals and recovers by mauling demons by hand.”
» Best Realistic Shooter: Battlefield 1 at Amazon
“If you are a history buff and are fascinated by the World Wars in history, then you can’t miss this game.”
» Best Zombie Apocalypse Shooter: Left 4 Dead 2 at Amazon
“Nearly ten years old, and yet it is still one of the most played and most community-supported the zombie-apocalypse game.”
» Best Open-World Shooter: Fallout New Vegas at Amazon
“When it comes to the single-player shooter experience, it is up there among the elites.”
» Best Giant Robot Shooter: Titanfall 2 at Amazon
“Feel like you’re in full control of a giant robot, along with all the bells and whistles.”
Best Overall For 2020 – Borderlands 2
The sequel to the first Borderlands game builds on top of the success of the first one, with even more to offer. This sci-fi game doesn’t take itself too seriously and features a very stylish cel-shaded art style. It is a perfect game for shooter fans who want nothing else but to be entertained while playing a single-player game free from stress and toxicity of online gaming.
In Borderlands 2, you play as a Vault Hunter, a treasure and glory-seeker hopping from planet to planet to find fame and loot. However, as you progress through the game, you’ll find yourself entangled in a story full of twists and turns that will either lead you to glory or your Doom.
It takes place five years after the original Borderlands game, but you don’t need to play the first one to appreciate this game. And despite being a single-player game, you won’t run out of things to do with a plethora of side-quests, a sprawling world to explore, and of course, a storyline to enjoy.
Aside from the action, the world, and the gameplay, part of what makes Borderlands 2 our top pick is the character progression and customization. Unlike most shooter games where you just run around, grab weapons, and shoot stuff, Borderlands 2 lets you care about your character more. It is done via customization of the skill tree, upgrading your weapons and perks, and changing your attacks depending on the gear you loot along the way.
Many experts and game analysts claim that Borderlands 2 offers around forty hours of gameplay. But with so much to do and customization to enjoy, you can expect so many more hours.
The combination of not-so-serious gameplay, rich storytelling, and character customization makes Borderlands 2 our top pick for the best single-player shooter game.
Best Classic Reboot – Doom 2016
The original Doom game is what launched the first-person shooter genre into the stratosphere and in turn, turned FPS games into real household names. While a Doom 3 game was released years before, it failed to capture the dark and fast-paced action gameplay of the original. Doom 2016, however, lives up to expectations and then some.
While most shooter games focus on other, more “realistic” features such as limiting the number of weapons you can carry and giving the ability to shoot around corners, Doom 2016 discards all that. It harkens back to the original feel of the early FPS games, which saw the player carry multiple weapons, keep running without care about stamina consumption, and a Doom game staple, shoot until the ammo runs out without reloading.
And while modern shooters have you play a character that is, while a protagonist, still a regular or slightly augmented super-soldier, Doom throws that all out the window. You take the role of a nearly unstoppable killing-machine that heals and recovers by mauling demons by hand. It doesn’t just add to the storyline and lore of the game; it works as a unique game mechanic. Whereas other games encourage resting to recover shields, finding healing items to restore hit-points, or other more “sensible” methods, Doom goes the opposite route. The more daring and more in-your-face you are with your enemies, the more rewards you get.
This fast-paced gameplay, coupled with what made the Doom franchise awesome, the dark and scary atmosphere, makes Doom 2016 a fantastic sequel/tribute/reboot. It is all three at this point.
However, while it calls back to the early Doom games, it also comes with modern features as well. Aside from the cutting-edge graphics, camera work, and immersive audio, the gameplay also improves on the original. Weapons now have progression systems that allow you to change the way each function, according to your playstyle. The classic power-ups from the original game have a new twist and new animations. And now, the game features an intuitive 3D map that allows you to see exactly where you’ve been and where you are going.
Combine this with easter eggs like levels that look like the original Doom games and hidden 3D models for your collection. Doom quickly becomes a single-player shooter game that has nearly countless hours of replayability. If you miss the good ole’ days of 90s FPS games, then this is a good throwback game for you.
Best Realistic Shooter – Battlefield 1
The Battlefield series has always strived to achieve one specific thing: realism. Sure, they embellished history a bit throughout the franchise’s many games, but when it comes to setting, atmosphere, and of course, the weapons and vehicles, few games come close. And the latest installment, Battlefield 1, is no exception.
Unlike most realistic historical shooters, Battlefield 1 takes place in World War 1, not World War 2 (hence the “1” in the game title.) World War 1, said to be “the war to end all wars” at the time, is a gritty, dirty, violent period in human history. And the game captures that both realistically and cinematically.
Each of the weapons you’ll encounter in the game was painstakingly recreated. Not only that, the setting where each campaign mission happens is based pretty accurately on the real places where World War 1 occurred. The sounds, the sights, and the experience of being a frontline soldier in one of the bloodiest wars ever fought are all presented in the game. But unlike most games that have a huge story that you have to experience to appreciate fully, Battlefield 1 takes a more grassroots approach.
Every “stage” you play through is from a different perspective, each with an emotional angle the game aims to make you feel. Think of it as the difference between a TV series and an epic movie. The campaign stages you play through stand alone on its own, but once played through overall, gives a big picture that will make you go wow. You go from euphoric victory to tragic defeat very quickly, just like in real-life wars.
And true to form, Battlefield 1 features lots of vehicles, artillery, and weapons. Don’t expect your typical modern guns with laser sights and 30x zoom scopes. This war was fought with bolt-action rifles, bi-planes, and even pigeons. Yes, carrier pigeons.
But what makes the game genuinely compelling is the effort the developer put in to connect you to each crucial turning point of the game. For example, if you die at any point in Battlefield 1, you get a memorial screen that shows the name of a soldier, the year of birth, and the year of death. It tells you that you are not just playing a game as a generic soldier, but are in control of a named one with a bit of backstory as well. It is a sad but necessary reminder that, while Battlefield 1 is a game, it is based on real-world events. Soldiers died, real soldiers.
If you are a history buff and are fascinated by the World Wars in history, then you can’t miss this game. It is our pick for the best historical and realistic shooter game.
Best Zombie Apocalypse Shooter – Left 4 Dead 2
There is a saying: “Nothing beats a classic.” And while there have been many zombie apocalypse games over the years, some featuring even better graphics and atmosphere, very few can beat the fun factor and replayability of Left 4 Dead 2.
This game is nearly ten years old, and yet it is still one of the most played and most community-supported the zombie-apocalypse game. The first game, Left 4 Dead, featured four characters who make an appearance in the sequel as well, meeting the four new replacements.
While it is not as complicated as Borderlands 2, not as nostalgic as Doom, and not as realistic as Battlefield 1, Left 4 Dead 2 more than makes up for it with sheer fun and gameplay.
The game comes with a series of single-player campaign missions. Each one will have you traverse a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies with three other AI companions. It is up to you to make it from one checkpoint to another to complete each of the single-player campaign’s missions, all combining to tell an overarching story with gut-wrenching twists in some moments.
When it comes to zombies, you won’t be disappointed. All kinds of infected undead, from your average lumbering brainless zombie to the dreaded Tank and the must-avoid Witch, are present. It gives a wide variety of challenges and scares that you have to deal with as you collect weapons, keep your health up, and in some cases, carry gasoline to fill up a car and escape.
But the best part about the game, aside from its story and gameplay, is its longevity.
It is done in a couple of ways.
First, the game can be played single or multiplayer online without much hassle for you. The experience is the same, except playing online gives other people control over your other three companions.
Second, and arguably the most significant element to the game’s longevity, is the modding community. The game allows players to make custom maps that can be uploaded and enjoyed by other players. Some are original maps with their custom storylines. Others are tributes to other games like Resident Evil. And many more are just silly; action packed maps that give the chance to shoot lots of zombies and have fun doing so.
Over the years, many mods and maps, along with custom items, have made their way to Steam. Also, these mods appeared on other websites. Because of all of this, Left 4 Dead 2 is still standing strong as one of the best single-player shooters out there.
Best Open-World Shooter – Fallout New Vegas
Shooter games are often linear, meaning you start from one stage, progress through the next, rinse and repeat until the game is over. Fallout New Vegas, however, blows that notion out of the water.
One can argue that Fallout New Vegas is an RPG, and is not a full-fledged shooter game. However, because the game plays like a real-time first-person shooter (not to mention it features dozens of guns, armor, and other weapons), then it definitely counts. And when it comes to the single-player shooter experience, it is up there among the elites.
The story is in a post-apocalyptic future, but one that did not progress beyond vacuum-tube technology. So it is surreal to see 1950s imagery blending with advanced sci-fi concepts, like the ruins of an anti-gravity coupe. A massive nuclear war ravaged the world, and it is up to you, a vault-dweller, to make your way to the world and pretty much do whatever you want.
The game’s open-world concept doesn’t dictate where you go and what you’ll do, unlike most first-person shooters. Instead, you are free to explore and do countless things possible in the game without ever having to adhere to the main storyline.
Now you might wonder, why did we put a much older game, instead of the newer Fallout 4?
The reason is that with Fallout: New Vegas’ numerous DLCs, and if you play on PC, community mods, the single-player shooter experience becomes so much better. Want to make it feel even more of an FPS game? Mods to make the shooting much more dynamic and accurate exist. Want to make it have a more realistic survival element? Mods. Higher quality textures to keep up with modern gaming standards? Mods as well.
With a fantastic main story and dozens of very compelling side-quest storylines, plus a dynamic wasteland to explore, our pick for the top open-world shooter game is Fallout: New Vegas.
Best Giant Robot Shooter – Titanfall 2
Who said the best single-player shooters have only to involve people? If you’re a fan of giant futuristic robots duking it out and shooting large guns at one another, then Titanfall 2 is the game for you. Titanfall 2 worked on the main negative of the first game: the lack of a single-player experience. Titanfall 2 changes that, however, and it does so in a big way. The single-player campaign is well worth the money when purchasing this much-beloved sequel.
At first glance, Titanfall 2 seems like your generic sci-fi shooter game. You take on the role of a rebellious character leading a band of resistance fighters against a big, heartless corporation. You get to inherit your mentor’s Titan, pretty much a giant robot suit that is also able to think and feel for itself. It has a simple, tried-and-tested formula that the game can execute brilliantly, and unfolds into a profound story that is more than meets the eye.
The controls are superb. You genuinely feel like you’re in full control of a giant robot, along with all the bells and whistles. Combine that with brilliant and interactive level design that complements the fact that you are in control of a giant mech, and you have the trappings for an excellent single-player shooter.
The few possible complaints, however, include the single-player experience being a little too short and having a linear type of gameplay. However, there is a lot of replay value trying to see what outcomes you might get making different choices at essential moments of the game.
So if you’re a giant fighting robot fan, Titanfall 2 is our pick for best giant robot single-player shooter game.
There are many other single-player shooter games out there, but these are our picks for the best single-player shooter games you can play today.
History of Shooter Games
Before delving deep into the history of shooter games, it is essential to note that in today’s video game industry, shooter games often refer to “first-person shooters” or FPS for short. These types of modern games are also often intertwined with the “third-person shooter” kind of gameplay. However, for this discussion’s sake, we will start with the history of shooter games in general before narrowing it down to the more popular and well-known genre of the first-person shooter.
Shooter games rose in popularity from as early as when the first arcade machines and home consoles came to prominence. During this early period back in the 60s and 70s, the technology to develop a first-person shooter didn’t exist yet. Or in the cases that it did, it was constrained and was often only found in some arcade machines. Because of this, the shooter game industry at the time is full of games of a sub-genre called “shoot ’em up” games. These are simple, fun games where the player only needs to move either left and right or up and down while shooting targets straight forward. Famous examples of these early shoot ’em ups include Space Invaders and Galaxian.
This genre dominated the industry for many years and churned out other sub-genres of games like “run and gun” games, which required jumping and traversing obstacles. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Contra series. During this time, the “shooting gallery” genre also rose to prominence and could be considered the predecessor of the modern FPS genre to come.
Shooting gallery games simulate the popular carnival shooting gallery game and is played either with a light-gun or a regular controller. While it plays from a first-person perspective, it lacked the full control and mobility that the upcoming FPS genre would bring. Instead, the screen would either be locked in place or move on its own. All the while, the player would aim with the light gun or the crosshair via a controller. To this day, shooting gallery games are still popular, but most of them are relegated to arcades as the genre is now more a niche genre when it comes to home gaming. It is mostly due to the foothold the first-person shooting genre had secured.
For many years, these shooting game genres, along with its sub-genres, dominated the gaming industry. However, the first-person shooter genre was poised to take over and had been in incubation since the first FPS prototypes came to being in the late 70s and early 80s.
The very first officially recognized FPS game is by a group of high-school students in a NASA work-study program. At the time, it wasn’t for entertainment; instead, it is for studying fluid dynamics for spacecraft. This work, called “Maze War,” ended up expanding to become a rough first-person shooter game. It even evolved to become a primitive online game, with up to eight people being able to play via ARPANET. Not long after that, the University of Illinois came up with “Spasim,” which expanded multiplayer even further by allowing up to thirty-two players. Considering the technology of the time, the two games were engineering feats and set the stage for the rise of the modern FPS genre.
The Arrival of Wolfenstein 3D, and the Birth of The Modern FPS Game
Before the early 90s, early variants of FPS games crept into the market, and the industry started to take notice. However, despite technological advancements, it didn’t become prominent yet. Most of these FPS games were a novelty but lacked the “oomph” to amaze and hook the majority of gamers. Things changed; however, when a developer from id software named John Romero, along with id programmer John Carmack, realized they could do better.
In 1992, Wolfenstein 3D arrived. Wolfenstein 3D is a dynamic first-person shooter game. Due to its popularity, it is widely credited as the progenitor of the modern FPS genre. It was built using the culmination of the technology at the time and set the bar for future FPS games. What made it famous and widespread, however, was its shareware release, which allowed the vast majority of the market to try it out for free before purchasing the full game.
But while Wolfenstein 3D is considered to be the first true FPS game, it is Doom, which is credited as the first widely successful FPS game and is regarded as the cornerstone of the genre. Doom, also developed by id software, followed the same format as Wolfenstein 3D. But it featured much better graphics and textures, improved on the immersion with height variations and lighting, and had vastly more exciting action. It also featured PVP or player-versus-player matches, which is called “Deathmatch” and became a popular term still used today.
Doom is a success and sequels to the franchise are still ongoing today. However, at the time, it caused much controversy due to its violence, visuals that showed demons and other hellish iconography, and overall dark nature. To this day, first-person shooters would cause controversy due to the realistic violence depicted in some games. However, the genre continues to be very popular, and studies that disproved the connection of video-games to real-world violence have helped temper public perception.
Today, there are dozens, if not hundreds of FPS games, all entertaining the millions of video gamers around the world. And they can be classified into two basic categories: offline and online.
Offline vs. Online FPS Gaming
Even during the early heydays of FPS gaming, from Doom to Quake to Half-Life and beyond, one key element is the ability to play against other people. Before the spread of internet connectivity, this was mostly through Local Area Networks or LAN. However, once the internet became widespread, games were quick to adapt to the new technology. The games then allowed players to compete with one another from across the globe.
This trend, however, is a double-edged sword. Electronic Arts infamously declared single-player offline games to be “out of fashion,” claiming that “online is where the innovation is.” And to some extent, they are correct. But there are some disadvantages to having a game that is only supposed to be played online and with other players.
- Reliance on connectivity – Online shooter games can be fun, but your enjoyment also relies on the speed of your connectivity. Sure, the modern internet is already fast enough, to begin with. However, other factors can come into play that can hinder your gaming. For example, the game developer’s servers could be undergoing maintenance or are slow, to begin with, which will render you unable to play. If other people are also using your home internet, you can experience lag and be at a disadvantage. In a game where split-second decisions and actions are needed, experiencing high-latency can spell the difference between victory and defeat. Which, in turn, will also cause either satisfaction or disappointment.The best single-player shooters, however, don’t have this problem. Sure, the best fps games have multiplayer and online options. However, a game with a great single-player foundation will give you hours of enjoyment regardless. If a game has a rich, story-driven single-player mode, you won’t need to connect to the internet to get an online experience.
- Forced social interaction – Sometimes, all you want is to come home, boot up your game, and play solo to relax and unwind. However, if an FPS game has no single-player story mode, this is a problem. And with the internet the way it is, with lots of toxic players just itching to troll and be jerks to other players, people who want to enjoy an hour or so of gaming at peace won’t be able to with online shooter games.The best single-player shooters, however, will allow this to happen. The games do this through their single-player story mode or “multiplayer” modes that will enable you to play with AI bots. AI bots are now smarter and more challenging than they were a decade ago and provide various levels of difficulty for your gaming enjoyment. You won’t have to deal with toxic behavior and still get to play with other “players” without having to be online.
- Uncontrollable game time – If you are pigeonholed to playing shooter games online with other players, you pretty much lose control of your game time. Sure, you can start anytime and leave anytime, but if you do, you’ll tarnish your online reputation and will be known as the player who ditches team games at will. Also, playing online with other players means pausing the game to do other things is pretty much impossible. Want to take a bathroom break in the middle of a firefight? Well, hold it in until you win or are killed and have to wait for a respawn. Want to call it a night because you have work in the morning? Make sure your team objectives are complete or have your teammates understand you’ll be ditching the game before it finishes. Your game time is dependent on other people, which can be troublesome if your game time is limited, to begin with.With offline single-player shooters, however, you can start when you want, save your game when you finish, and continue another time. If you’re going to take a quick break to use the bathroom, or grab a snack, or walk around to stretch your legs, it’s possible. Your time is still your time, and you are not beholden to others.Not only that, the best single-player shooters don’t have you waiting for game servers. At peak times, some online shooter games will have you queue and wait for an available game you can connect to. If you’re unlucky, this can take quite a while. With single-player shooters, the moment you load your game or start a multiplayer game with AI bots, you’re good to go. No waiting, no delays.
These are just some of the factors you need to consider when choosing to play online multiplayer shooters or the best single-player shooters offline. Whatever the case, however, your gaming experience will be significantly affected by how your gaming setup us. Whether you’re using a console, a desktop PC, or a gaming laptop, your hardware and peripherals are key. Making sure your setup is appropriate can make your gaming experience much more enjoyable.
The Best Setup For Single Player Shooter Games
Whether you’re playing on a desktop PC, a console, or a gaming laptop, having the right setup will vastly improve your single-player shooter gaming experience. Sure, you can play with default hardware, and that is okay, but if you want the best gaming experience, getting the right stuff is very important.
Here are some tips to get the ideal setup for the best single-player shooters available today.
- Get the best GPU – Unless you’re playing in a console, you can upgrade your GPU to one of the most modern ones available today. You don’t need to get the most high-end (although if your budget can afford it, then that would be perfect), but getting a modern GPU will work wonders for gaming. New shooter games require a lot of graphical processing power, because of the special effects, number of elements on-screen, and so on.In addition to getting the best GPU, your money can buy, making sure it has the most updated driver will work wonders as well. If you have the right GPU for the job, pretty much all of the triple-A single-player shooter titles are within your reach.
- Get enough RAM – The GPU is essential, but the RAM is just as crucial. RAM allows you to play the game faster and more smoothly. A system will easily handle an intense firefight with lots of elements on-screen with more than enough RAM. Modern systems will do well to have at least 8 GB of RAM, so having at least that is crucial.The last thing you need in a single-player shooter game is to experience lag at a critical moment, only to find yourself severely damaged or killed once the lag subsides. Not only is it frustrating, but it can also hinder your progress and overall enjoyment of the game. So get enough RAM, and you’ll be good to go.
- Use the right peripherals – Whether it’s a controller, or keyboard and mouse, having the best peripherals for your shooter game will not only immerse you more but also make gameplay much more fun. While many people do well with a controller (if you play on a console, this is the default), most people, especially those who play on a desktop PC or a gaming laptop, will opt for a keyboard and mouse configuration.A regular keyboard and mouse are fine; however, to maximize your gaming experience, it is good to get a gaming keyboard and a gaming mouse. These peripherals function similarly to their regular counterparts. Still, a gaming mouse will often have more buttons you can bind commands to, as well as have DPI options to change the responsiveness and accuracy of the cursor. It will make it easier to execute different commands without having to press button combinations, and allow you to properly aim your crosshairs as sensitively or as accurately as you want.Similarly, gaming keyboards have other features not present in regular keyboards too. Gaming keyboards often have LED lights to allow for gaming at night or low-light, have keys that are more durable and responsive for intense actions, and more. Having the right keyboard will allow for easy navigation in the 3D world of your shooter game comfortably and efficiently.
- Proper display and sound system – To cap off the best setup for shooter games, you must have a correct display and appropriate sound system. A good GPU and fast system via enough RAM can only do so much. If your screen is poor and your audio is flat, it can take away from the gaming experience.A good monitor, smart TV, or projector can enhance the visual experience of the game. It lets you see the game better, and a higher quality display will allow higher resolution gameplay to show correctly.When it comes to audio, a good set of surround sound speakers or a gaming headset does the job. It lets you hear the game accurately, every bullet ricochet, every footstep, every gunshot. A gaming headset is an alternative when loud sounds can’t be played at home or in the apartment. And even if you won’t need the microphone attachment because you’ll be playing single-player and offline, a good gaming headset gives a good simulation of a surround sound system and offers the same benefits.
With the proper gaming setup, you can enjoy the best single-player shooter games at their fullest. But what exactly are the best single-player shooters available today? Below are our top picks!
In summary, there are a ton of Single Player Shooters that could have made this list, but we don’t have the luxury to be able to review them all! We guarantee the list we’ve put together will leave you satisfied, not too mention, entertained for hours on end! Grab a copy of these immediately!