First-person shooters might be one of the most popular video game genres to have ever existed, but it's not every gamer's initial cup of tea. Indeed, for someone that grew up on JRPGs or real-time strategy games, it can seem quite intimidating and unapproachable at first blush. It requires an entirely different sort of responsiveness and situational awareness.
But when it comes down to it, it's really not all that difficult to get accustomed to — all you need is a good point of entry, and that's where these games come in. If you're looking to dip your toes into the FPS genre, then these are among the best places to start.
While going as far back as 1993's Doom might be daunting for prospective players on account of the sprite-based graphics and inability to actually look up or down, Quake straddles the fine line between old-school simplicity and modern accessibility almost perfectly when it comes to serving as an entry point to the genre. The recent release of a remaster for modern consoles doesn't hurt prospects, either.
Quake's campaign is as straightforward as it gets: shoot the bad guys, get bigger guns, shoot bigger bad guys, then rinse and repeat. The UI's simple and easy to parse, the weapon sandbox is fun and diverse, and even the narrative is a no-frills affair. The multiplayer is also a great way to test out the basic format of an online match and get acquainted with the gameplay loop of an arena shooter.
The 2016 reboot of what's commonly referred to as the genre's most definitive and important title is an unsurprisingly great jumping-in point for genre newcomers, but take note: it's not exactly the shallowest end of the pool. Doom's pacing is fast when compared to similar titles, but that's certainly not something that works to its disadvantage. After mankind's hubris essentially rips open the portal to hell, players step into the armored boots of the Doomslayer, a superhuman killing machine bent on sending the demons back where they came from — and the game does a fantastic job of making you feel like it.
There are a few mechanics that'll take some getting used to: Glory Killing enemies to restore health, using alternate fire modes when appropriate, and generally making sure you're using the right gun for the right job are important but easy-to-grasp staples that players can easily work into their routine, and the game rewards recklessly pressing forward into combat far more often than it punishes it. It's a difficult rhythm to get wrong on the easier to moderate difficulties.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Wolfenstein: The New Order is another title that brings classic first-person shooter mechanics into the modern day with fresh new takes. Players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz, tearing through a dystopian alternate history 1960s America where the Nazis won. Wolfensteinhas various difficulty options to choose from, and while their naming convention may poke a bit of fun, do not feel discouraged playing on the lower difficulties. The game is centered around making you feel like a super-soldier, after all.
A lot of the gameplay mechanics are straightforward. From weapon upgrades to stealth combat, nothing is so complicated that it feels like you need to hop on a wiki page to puzzle it out. At the very least, all you need to know is how to aim and shoot — anything more you learn will just make the experience even more fun
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
While not technically one game, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is an excellent entry for players wanting to explore the evolution of modern first-person shooters. New players can start with Halo: Combat Evolved to learn the basics of regenerating shield mechanics, taking cover, vehicular combat, and learning to keep your two favorite guns, while seeing how each entry that follows after keeps adding to that core gameplay. Halo is known for being quite challenging at its highest difficulties, but playing the campaigns on lower difficulties is always a great opportunity to learn.
A centerpiece of what makes Halo: The Master Chief Collection a great entry is its multiplayer experience. The cooperative multiplayer campaign experience is a fun way to relieve some of the stress of learning shooting mechanics by doing it alongside friends and getting pointers along the way. However, the competitive multiplayer experience is a great way to put your skills to the test against more experienced players. While there is no guarantee you will do great in your first match, it gives you perspective on how good you get.
Superhot is more of a puzzle game than it is a shooter, but shooting is part of the puzzle-solving. The name of the game is eliminating every enemy with whatever you have at your disposal. Whether you're smacking a gun out of an enemy's hand only to grab it mid-air or bringing a katana in a gunfight, this game makes you feel like you are in an action movie.
For newcomers that may feel overwhelmed by modern shooters or aren't fans of gore-filled action, this game is a great compromise. Superhot is straightforward in terms of its shooting mechanics. There is no aiming down the sights, just simply point in the direction you want to shoot/hit an enemy, hit the trigger, and walk around to avoid bullets. The game adds a fun twist where time moves when you move (which includes enemies and their projectiles), essentially serving to set up the action-forward puzzle to be solved in each stage.
Bioshock is certainly a more contemplatively paced and narrative-heavy take on the FPS formula, but it's a good practice in dipping your toes into a "thinking man's" shooter. Cast as Jack, players must survive the ravaged confines of Rapture, the once-capitalist-utopia under the sea, as they puzzle out a method of escape while sussing out the hows and whys concerning how they got there to begin with.
Bioshock can be a bit more challenging given some resource management, survival aspects, and progression mechanics, but these also serve as an easy bridge for players coming from RPG roots. Utilizing Plasmids (essentially magical powers) provides another layer for players to consider when approaching combat, but ultimately help to teach players to "look before they leap," which can be crucial when playing more advanced FPS titles or immersive sims.
The Borderlands Series
Borderlands makes for an easy jump for RPG enthusiasts on account of the loot-and-shoot gameplay direction, but ultimately, the FPS mechanics themselves are very smooth and approachable for those who may not be steeped in experience with previous shooters. Every entry brings a fresh selection of character classes with unique skillsets that, while distinct, hardly invalidate a given playstyle. There aren't any particularly "wrong" choices to make in terms of the RPG progression mechanics and skill points, allowing players to focus on the simple things: shooting bad guys and picking up increasingly zany and overpowered weapons.
There's also that signature Borderlands storytelling. The sci-fi meets Mad Max aesthetic is endlessly charming, and each title is jam-packed with enough juvenile humor to keep players from feeling too pressured when they've hit a snag. The cherry on top is the emphasis on cooperative play — learning the ropes of playing a shooter is always much, much less intimidating when you've got a few friends to help out.