FPS games have always been a great hotbed for competition, mostly due to their fast pace and precision-based skill. While some of our favorite first-person shooters are narrative-driven, it’s hard to resist a quality online multiplayer mode. Over the last few decades, online competitive gaming has grown from a niche to a major scene, with huge professional tournaments and events.
There’s a huge selection of games to choose from if you’re looking to enter the online battlefield, so we’ve made a list of our favorites.
If you think we missed any of the best online multiplayer shooters of all time, be sure to leave us a comment with your choice. We did our best to cover both retro and modern online games, but there’s a good chance we missed your favorite.
Without further ado, here are our picks and user voted for the best online multiplayer shooters of all time!
When we reflect on the best online multiplayer shooters, it's important to recognize the roots of the competitive scene. Although there's some argument over what game truly popularized competitive “deathmatch” play, it's hard to deny just how important DOOM's online multiplayer was. In fact, near the height of DOOM's popularity back in the early 90s, internet providers had trouble keeping up with the networkdemand from players.
In comparison to modern online shooters, DOOM might seem a bit tame. Players compete on a handful of maps, blasting each other with weapons from the single-player campaign. Gaining enemy kills is your highest priority, and with the incredibly quick pace of DOOM's gameplay, things get hectic quick. When you combine all the awesome guns included in the game with the breakneck pace of competition, online multiplayer in DOOM was destined to be a success.
The Halo series was responsible for popularizing the FPS genre on consoles in the early 2000s. Over the past two decades, there have been a slew of Halo games released, and this collection puts all of them in one place. Simply put, if you're a fan of strategic yet hectic firefights with a slew of powerful weapons and interesting equipment, this is one compilation that you shouldn't pass up.
In addition to containing every mode, map, and gun from the Halo series, The Master Chief Collection gives players unprecedented control over matchmaking. Players can choose from a variety of options when searching for online matches, including the total amount of players, what Halo games are included, and what kind of game mode you want to play. There are both ranked and casual playlists, plus a plethora of custom game modes that turn the experience on its head. With hundreds of hours of content, this is one game that delivers endless multiplayer fun.
The Rainbox Six franchise has always been about tactical combat, and Rainbow Six Seige is arguably the best online shooter for that kind of strategic fighting. The game features a handful of objective-based game modes, where you and a small team of comrades either attack or defend various spots on the map. Respawning is limited, so you'll have to make your shots count if you want to survive.
What makes Rainbow Six Seige stand out from the rest is the continuous support from developer Ubisoft, who have added content with regularity over the past few years. Whether it's new maps, modes, or unique playable characters called Operators, there's always some sort of new content on the horizon. If you're looking to test your mettle as a calculated soldier, this is one game that brings the challenge.
Counter-Strike is a game that's synonymous with online matchmaking and eSports tournaments, as it's one of the longest-running games in the professional gaming circuit today. Global Offensive, released in 2011, updated the graphics and gameplay of this classic online shooter to modern standards while retaining the original concept. Across a handful of objective-based modes, two teams must battle each other while planting bombs, rescuing hostages, and protecting their own skin.
While mastering Counter-Strike takes countless hours of play, it's an addictive game that quickly beckons repeat plays. There's always room to grow, whether its with your sniper accuracy, awareness of surroundings, or general tactics. Killing other players grants you cash to upgrade and purchase weaponry, adding a nice element of strategy to the already challenging gameplay. If you're looking to make it big in the eSport sworld, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of your best bets.
The Call of Duty franchise is a titan in the online multiplayer world, and Black Ops IV doubled down on that recognition by foregoing its normal single-player campaign mode for extra multiplayer content. While some players were upset at the exclusion of a story mode, fans of multiplayer offerings were delighted with the robust amount of content.
In addition to the normal multiplayer mode that contains tons of maps, modes, and unlockable gear, Black Ops IV also contains the fan-favorite Zombies mode. Working together with a team of friends (or AI companions), you must battle through waves upon waves of the undead as you fight for your life. The final mode, Blackout, is the first Call of Duty-themed battle royale, pitting 100 players against each other in a fight to the very end. If you're a fan of online shooters, do yourself a favor and grab this excellent bundle of multiplayer modes.
Whereas other games like Rainbow Six and Counter-Strike deliver team-based gameplay with realistic graphics and characters, Overwatch embraces a wacky attitude to great results. In this online shooter, the character you choose is paramount to all other choices, as each of the 30+ characters have unique skills, weapons, and play-styles. While you might be able to skate away with a win based purely on your shooting skills, mastering Overwatch will require you to learn the game inside and out.
Like other objective-based multiplayer games, most modes in Overwatch involve you and your team either defending or attacking various spots on the map. This is where each character's special skills come into play, as some are suited for combat roles better than others. Chunky characters like Reindhart and Roadhog are great for absorbing damage, while assassins like Widowmaker and Hanzo are best for racking up kills. There's even a good selection of support characters, for those players who like to stick to the back of the pack and provide buffs for their teammates.
This fantastic battle royale game launched in early 2019 with absolutely no fanfare; the game just popped up on digital stores as a free experience, waiting for players to hop in. Although expectations were tempered, the game was made by the developers of Titanfall 2, so players were hoping for equally fast and addictive gunplay. What we got was even better. By including an amazing ping system and keeping the adrenaline pumping, Apex Legends quickly became one of the best online multiplayer shooters of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One generation.
Similar to games like Overwatch, players choose from a roster of unique characters known as Legends, each with unique skills and abilities. In comparison to other battle royale games, Apex Legends is incredibly fast-paced, rewarding speed and precision over powerful weapons. While you are forced to play with a squad of three other players, the excellent ping system makes it easy to communicate with players without using a headset. Not only is Apex Legends free, but it introduced a plethora of features that have been adopted by other major online shooting games since its release.