Even with some of the stinkers that 2023 has produced in the shooting department – Redfall, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, take a bow – there have been some exceptional releases. Whether it’s a first-person shooter with high-octane combat or more methodical pacing, a third-person shooter with mechs or a Souls-like experience, the year has been good for fans of all kinds of shooters. Check out our picks for the best shooters of the year.
RoboCop: Rogue City
RoboCop: Rogue City recreates the atmosphere of the classic 80s action flick while adding dollops of actual police work, like investigating crime scenes and patrolling around. However, its combat is straightforward. Walk towards the enemies, blast them to smithereens with a range of weaponry, get some upgrades, and repeat. It’s fun though, and fairly compelling as you evolve into a nigh-unstoppable killing – er, law enforcement machine.
For all the talk about its multiple systems and extensive side content, Everspace 2 is a space shooter, first and foremost. There are several ship types suited for different needs, and the range of weapons, including EMP missiles, mines, gauss cannons, and much more, can get pretty ridiculous. Still, coupled with how natural the movement feels, it’s easy to jump in and destroy with impunity. Just don’t wander into a system with higher-level enemies by accident.
Resident Evil 4
The original Resident Evil 4 is already a masterpiece in terms of combat, and while the remake doesn’t fundamentally alter the formula, it does enhance it. With QTEs removed, you can now parry at will, making for some awesome moments like stopping an enemy’s chainsaw with a knife. Otherwise, the feedback from popping heads and kicking enemies into each other feels better than ever, and weapons get new Exclusive Upgrades to further enhance their capabilities.
Motive Studios put in significant work to revamp Dead Space’s graphics and exploration, and it’s certainly one of the most stunning games of the year. However, it went even further with the gameplay, introducing the Peeling system. This gave enemies layers, with different weapons having unique effects when targeting limbs, making combat more visceral. Of course, the improvements to the Zero-G sections, new rooms, and puzzles also didn’t hurt.
Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon
FromSoftware’s latest has an involving story, but if you’re in it just for the action, there’s plenty to go around. There is a plethora of weapons to choose from, including shotguns, missile launchers, beam rifles and plasma, and it can get somewhat overwhelming to fit it all into a single build. Still, the extensive customization helps, so if you want to be a glass cannon with insane damage or hover endlessly and rain fire down, you can do that. It also helps that there are so many bosses to test your builds on and provide a worthy challenge.
Quake 2: Enhanced Edition
The surprise release, developed in collaboration with Nightdive Studios, turned a classic into one of the more underrated shooters of the year. Along with enhanced visuals, it sported quality-of-life features like the Compass to more easily navigate levels, accessibility options and new attacks for enemies like the Berserker. With the base game, The Reckoning and Ground Zero, Quake 2 64, a new episode, Call of the Machine by MachineGames, and the id Vault, Quake 2: Enhanced Edition is an absurd amount of value and recommended for the id faithful.
Metroid Prime Remastered
After numerous rumors, a remaster of Retro Studios’ classic finally arrived for the Nintendo Switch. Shock of shocks, it’s still incredible, with the exploration, level design, puzzle solving and combat on point over two decades later. The revamped visuals garnered the most attention since they went beyond a simple remaster. However, the new dual-stick control scheme and narration options also make this a worthy revisit for fans. Even if you’re not a twitchy shooter fan, Metroid Prime Remastered is worth playing.
There are a few things awkward about Starfield, but admittedly, its gunplay can be pretty fun. Iterating further on Fallout 4, the shooting – especially from first-person – feels more fluid and responsive. More weapon types are welcome, but taking threats down with old-school ballistic weapons or flooding them with Microgun fire is equally enjoyable. If you’re more about space shooting, shipbuilding can be fun, and taking your creation into space to obliterate anything and everything is cathartic.
One of my personal favorites, Remnant 2 is everything about the first game turned up to 11. Its build-crafting is expanded thanks to the new Archetypes. The biome generation is also phenomenal, presenting wholly different worlds, bosses and enemies to fight in each run. Above all else, the shooting and movement are fantastic, mixing the tense Souls-like dodge-rolling with unique weapons that feel amazing.
THE FINALS is more than just a gun game, mixing all-out environmental destruction and fast-paced movement with strategy and teamwork. Nevertheless, scoring a triple-kill with the pump-action grenade launcher or three-tapping someone with the revolver feels great. It’s this mix of free-flowing gunplay, seamless traversal and more unmitigated chaos, whether you’re chasing down a vault or guarding a bank with all the random nonsense you can muster, that makes THE FINALS so addictive.
Monolith Productions may never revisit the F.E.A.R. franchise, but thankfully, there’s Trepang2. Don’t let the cliché premise stop you – it boasts fast-paced action with all the slow-mo and brutality you could want. Sliding, using enemies as shields before tossing them, melee combat, and much more enhance the experience further, and the presentation is on point throughout.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
It’s weird to put Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora on a list of best shooters, given its focus on gathering, exploration, investigation, and peacefully co-existing with nature. However, when it’s time to hunt, the bows and spears feel great to use and are all the more effective on RDA AMPs and soldiers. The shotgun also feels nice and hefty, and chaining together slides and leaps to reposition and effectively slaughter your enemies is fun.
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion Remastered
Turok 3 is far from the best game in the series, focusing more on a linear campaign with underwhelming dialogue and little replay value. However, it’s still fun, thanks to Nightdive Studios’ remaster, with the environment, characters and weapons receiving hefty visual updates. The feeling of sniping enemies from afar or unleashing hell with the Cerebral Bore is also intact.
Nightdive Studios had a much bigger shooter release this year with System Shock, a remake of Looking Glass’s 1993 classic. Everything about it is sublime, from the revamped visuals to the feedback from the weapons. It’s not your average run-and-gun shooter thanks to the scarcity of ammo, but that’s part of the appeal, and all the little improvements, including the revamped cyberspace, make for an immersive experience.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
CD Projekt RED leaned in with the decision-making and consequences for Phantom Liberty, conjuring a memorably tragic tale. However, it also cooked well with the combat, partly thanks to the changes in Update 2.0 – from slide reloads and air dashes to finishers – but also due to the new Relic tree abilities. There’s nothing like launching an enemy into space with overpowered Gorilla Arms or launching multiple explosive shots from the arm cannon. With movement feeling more fluid than ever and new threats to tackle, Phantom Liberty represents the peak of the title’s combat.