27 Best Online Shooting Games to Play in 2016 and Beyond

online shooting games
The future of shooting is here.

27 of the best online shooting games you need to check out

There's never been a better time to be a shooter fan. With these 27 online shooters out now or releasing in the near future, your trigger finger will be kept occupied for a long time.

1. CS:GO

The CS:GO community has all the character of a finely-aged wine.

Despite releasing nearly four years ago, Counter Strike: Global Offensive remains one of the most popular online shooters in history. The gameplay revolves around simple but highly-polished shooting mechanics and five online modes.

Deathmatch is your standard, well, deathmatch, except that points are earned not just by killing but by killing with a variety of weapons, with each weapon having a different point value.

Arms Race rewards players with a new weapon every two kills; killing the leading enemy earns you a new weapon right away, while getting a kill with the golden knife secures victory and ends the match. (Like Quidditch with guns.)

Demolition uses a predetermined “playlist” of weapons rather than the standard customization system.

Bomb and Hostage Scenario are by far the most popular modes: in Bomb the Terrorist teams plant C4 and guard it, while Counter-Terrorists must defuse it before it explodes; in Hostage, Counter-Terrorists rescue hostages from the Terrorist camp.

Players come for the game, but stay for the community, and four years later it’s still going strong. You can find a match any time, any day, and mods are still regularly released. There’s even the ability to gamble on cosmetic skins with other players. If you’re looking for a place to belong, CS:GO could be your jam. Just don’t feel bad about all the knifing. 

There's one on every team.

Keep an eye on that radar.

2. ARMA 3

This is probably as close to the real thing as you'll ever want to get.

The ARMA series follows in the vein of military shooters like CS:GO, but taken to the extreme. The game takes place in an open world on the Greek islands of Altis and Stratis, both of which are rendered so realistically you could use the in-game map to find your way around on the actual islands. The gameplay is just as hardcore as the environments. While the tactical combat is reminiscent of the Battlefield series, it’s far less forgiving. Death comes swiftly for the incautious; like real life, all it takes is one well-placed bullet to put you down. If you’re looking for a real challenge that steers clear of the CoD-esque blockbuster tropes, then ARMA 3 is your shooter.

Air support can be crucial.

Sometimes a good tank or three is all you need.

3. Battlefield 1

The Hindenburg's got nothing on this game.

The latest in the long-running Battlefield series, BF1 releases later this year and takes players back to the Great War for the first time. The trademark full-scale 64-player battles are back, but instead of fighter jets you’ll be piloting biplanes and taking out zeppelins.

Thanks to the endless march of technological progress, the maps are sprawling and littered with detail, from shattered European villages to the dreaded trenches. Players can choose where on the map they spawn – with their squad mates, in friendly territory, or on vehicles – and what weapons they want to carry into battle. Choosing your loadout is just as important as wielding the weapons, since you’ll need the right tools to take out tanks, duel enemy snipers, or just keep your teammates alive.

Weapons, gear, and vehicles will all be period-accurate, from bolt-action rifles with bayonets and brutal grenades to armored trucks and, yes, even the blimps. Along with armored trains and battleships, blimps will be massive mobile weapons platforms capable of changing the flow of battle and utterly decimating the field. 

An entire platoon can fall to mustard gas.

Wage war on land or in the air.

4. Titanfall 2

The relationship between a pilot and their Titan is symbiotic.

Titanfall shook up the online FPS scene with its tasty blend of mech combat, first-person parkour, and the clever use of bots to fill up the battlefield and make you feel like a badass. Titanfall 2, releasing later this year, looks set to continue that trend. The mechs and parkour are back, along with some new toys like the grappling hook. It might seem primitive compared to the hulking mechs bristling with weapons, but the grappling hook is key to taking advantage of the game’s verticality, as well as pulling enemies in close for some brutal melee kills.

At this point it's probably too late.

5. Quake Champions

He's here to kick ass and chew gum. And he doesn't look like a guy who chews a lot of gum.

Quake can be rightly called the grandfather of online shooters: without its frenzied arena combat we might never have gotten to where we are today (rocket jumps and all). After a long hiatus, Quake is set to return next year with Quake Champions, a PC-only, online-only arena shooter that looks to recapture the laser-focused experience its pedigree is known for.

New to the series will be classes. While previous Quake games kept the playing field level, regardless of your avatar, Quake Champions will feature distinct characters – the eponymous “champions” – with their own passive and active abilities. Change can be scary, but id Software has promised Quake veterans the perfect blend of old-school shooting and modern innovation.

A purple glowy thing - just what the doctor ordered.

Go head to head with the best of the best.

6. Star Wars Battlefront

This deal is getting better all the time.

Battlefront brings Star Wars to life, placing you directly in the middle of galactic conflict. The Jedi are all but extinct and the Republic has fallen, paving the way for the Empire to achieve ultimate domination. Only the Rebel Alliance stands in the way of Emperor Palpatine and enforcer Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith. In Battlefront you can choose your side, arm yourself with iconic weapons, pilot iconic ships, and play as legendary heroes of both the Empire and the Alliance.

When Battlefront released half a year ago use specific date instead. Otherwise as times passes this would no longer be accurate, it was praised for its stunning visuals and sounds ripped straight from the saga, but criticized for a seemingly bare-bones approach to actual gameplay.

Six months and several expansions later, Star Wars Battlefront seems to be finally hitting its stride and moving like a speeder bike towards the lauded legacy of its predecessors. Additional maps from Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, the volcanic planet Sullust, frigid Hoth, and the desolate Jakku have bolstered the game’s rotation, with the gas giant Bespin set to be added in only a few weeks and the Death Star later this year. New game modes, weapons, playable heroes, and bounty contracts for the great slug Jabba himself have continue to flesh out Battlefront.

While gameplay remains more casual than the likes of Battlefield or Halo, numerous patches have tweaked and fine-tuned both ground-based combat and aerial dogfights in response to player feedback. Battlefront is a great game to pick up and play for an hour or two, or whenever you need your Star Wars fix, and with two more expansions on the way, it shows no sign of slowing down.

Just like bulls-eyeing wamp rats back home.

Take the galactic conflict to new frontiers.

7. Overwatch


Sixty years from now, humanity will develop “omnics,” intelligent robots that will pave the way for a golden age of human advancement and prosperity. The golden age will not last, for the omnics will soon turn on their creators, producing deadly war machines programmed to hunt humanity into extinction. Only the Overwatch task force will be able to stop them and safeguard humanity for another several decades, until a rift between leaders divides the Overwatch into warring factions, ultimately leading to the disbanding of the task force. With the world plunged back into chaos and rumors of a second omnic uprising, the remnants of the Overwatch are humanity’s last hope.

So goes the story of Overwatch, but you won’t find any of it in the actual game. It’s told entirely through cinematics produced by Blizzard, giving the player the option to enjoy the rich narrative or simply dive into pure gameplay.

Easily the darling of this year, and perhaps this generation, Overwatch is fast and addictive, easy to approach yet difficult to master. The colorful characters have a limited set of weapons and abilities, but getting familiar with them can mean the difference between crushing defeat and Play of the Game.

Teamwork is key in Overwatch. Whether you’re escorting the payload, defending points, or a combination of two, victory hinges upon communication and cooperation. Knowing who your teammates are playing as and how to complement their characters’ abilities with your own will help your team function like a well-oiled, if insane, machine. 

Still early in its life and with plenty of additions to come, now is the perfect time to jump into Overwatch and see what everyone is raving about.

An ape in a mech suit. You need this in your life.

Escorting the payload requires as much offense as defense.

8. EVE: Valkyrie

Should've sent a poet.

For a change of pace in your shooting habits, look to the skies. Taking place in the massive universe of the ridiculously-popular MMO EVE, Valkyrie puts you in the cockpit for first-person dogfighting action straight out of every kickass sci-fi movie you’ve ever watched. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, the game comes bundled with every Oculus Rift VR headset, making it one hell of a launch title. This is probably as close as any of us will ever get to actual outer space, so what’re you waiting for?

Floating debris can be just as hazardous as enemy fire.

Buzzing massive capital ships in VR is simply jaw-dropping.

9. Tom Clancy's The Division

This may or may not be New York after it has been decimated by a plague.

In The Division, a pandemic of smallpox has burned its way through New York City on Black Friday. Whether it’s a terrorist attack or an act of nature is unknown; either way, the city has been quarantined. Those that survived the plague must pick through the wintery streets for supplies and shelter, often falling prey to the Mad Max-style gangs that formed quickly after the collapse. As a member of the Division, a secret task force made up of civilian agents, you must patrol the streets in an effort to hold back the chaos, rescue survivors, and perhaps discover the true nature of the pandemic.

As a hybrid RPG/MMO/third-person shooter, The Division is its own unique beast. It has the look of Ghost Recon or Splinter Cell, with the tactical combat and toy box of gadgets from each; yet the gameplay is closer to what you’d expect from an MMO, with damage counters for enemies, upgradeable traits and weapons, and a loot system. Enemies are decidedly human, yet boss-types are bullet sponges that can soak up clips of ammo and handfuls of grenades. NPCs assign side quests, all of which end in a firefight. It all comes together to create an experience that doesn’t feel quite like a shooter, but it’s not quite like an RPG either.

Whatever label you ascribe The Division, there’s no doubt it’s an enjoyable experience. The vacant, snow-swept New York is a beautiful, yet eerie playground that can be explored alone or with a team of other players. Documents scattered throughout the world reveal the collapse of the city and the lives of the people who once inhabited it. You have the ability to set up headquarters in various areas of the city, which act as safe zones and hubs for trading and receiving missions. If you want a challenge and the chance for some high-quality loot, the Dark Zone is a PvP area where agents of the Division can turn on each other at a moment’s notice.

Outflanking the enemy can give you the upper hand.

Walled in and closed off, the Dark Zone is truly lawless.

10. Ghost Recon Wildlands

You don't have to airdrop into every mission, but why wouldn't you?

The latest in the Ghost Recon series, Wildlands looks to continue in the vein of The Division with a massive open world to explore alone or with a team of friends.

First revealed at 2015’s E3, we recently saw a bit more of it at e3’s 2016 conference. Set in Bolivia, your ultimate task is to take down the cartels that have become the ruling force in the land. The environment is varied, from flat desert to thick forest and rugged mountain. Missions are scattered among various cities, villages, strongholds, and the wilderness between. Whether it’s a recon mission, an assassination, or the “extraction” of a high-priority target, how you tackle the mission is up to you and your team. Do you parachute in from an airplane while your team sets up sniper nests on the surrounding hills? Or do you jump in an armored truck and drive through the front gate? There will be plenty of weapons, vehicles, and gadgets at your disposal, so the options are virtually endless.

Wildlands can be played solo as well as with online co-op. It releases March of next year.

It's not all desert; Bolivia is also home to lush rainforests.

The brutality of the cartel will be evident everywhere you look.

11. Rainbow Six Siege

Who needs doors?

The Tom Clancy brand is a wellspring of shootery goodness. While both The Division and Ghost Recon Wildlands feature expansive worlds with side missions and a driving plot, Rainbow Six Siege is a purely multiplayer experience that pits two teams, the Rainbow Six counter-terrorism team and a group of homegrown terrorists, against each other in tight urban environments.

Game modes include Hostage, Bomb, Secure Area, Terrorist Hunt, and Situations. The last is really just a series of tutorials, but the first four are fully-fledged game modes. Hostage has Rainbow rescuing a hostage from the terrorists; Bomb requires them to deactivate explosives while the terrorists defend them; Secure Area is a king-of-the-hill style mode, with one team defending an area while the other tries to take it; Terrorist Hunt pits a team against waves of AI enemies.

Combat in Siege is highly tactical, requiring careful cooperation and communication from the entire team. RC drones can be used to scout the environments before going in. Walls, doors, floors, and ceilings are fully destructible with either weapons or explosive breach pads, meaning the map can be reshaped dramatically in the blink of an eye. 

Destructive environments can be used to your advantage.

Barbed wire and other barricades can be set up to obstruct the enemy.

12. Killing Floor 2

"Zed time" lets you line up the perfect shot.

A little less tactical than Rainbow Six Siege, Killing Floor 2 pits you and your team against waves of zombie-type enemies called Zeds. After the events of the first Killing Floor caused the Zed plague to be unleashed upon the world, all governments have collapsed. Only a few survivors remain, hunted ruthlessly by the Zeds. It’s up to you and your team of mercenaries to not only survive, but expose the cause of the Zed plague and, perhaps, reverse it.

The Zeds are unlike your standard zombie. They’re smarter, faster, and more horrific, coming in all sorts of nasty varieties. Some sport chainsaws or curved blades, others can turn invisible, and others still have become something closer to a spider than a zombie. The Zeds scale up with each wave, growing more deadly, and a random boss-type is unleashed at the end of the final wave.

Fighting off the Zeds will require a concerted effort from you and your team, as well as the full force of your arsenal, which can be upgraded and expanded using experience points. Perks are available at the beginning of each round as well, allowing you to heal more quickly or do more damage with a specific weapon. Tools like the welder can be used to make the map a little safer by welding doors shut to stem the Zed tide. And should you score a headshot, the game enters “Zed time” for all players, slowing time for a few seconds and letting you line up the next crucial shot.

It's all too easy to become overwhelmed.

13. Left 4 Dead 2

No zombie apocalypse is complete without a chainsaw, I guess.

In the bayous of New Orleans, the survivors of Left 4 Dead 2 must shoot, hack, and bash their way through the vicious hordes of Infected as the world collapses around them.

Like its predecessor, Left 4 Dead 2 is primarily an online co-op experience, throwing mobs of fast-running Infected and Special Infected against a four-person team as they try to reach the extraction point. Safe rooms between each stage of the map give players a place to catch their breath and restock on weapons and health packs before heading back into the fray.

Three new variations join the Special Infected roster. The Charger plows through the team like a bull, grabbing whomever is unlucky enough to be in its direct path and slamming them into the nearest wall. The Jockey is a creepy little guy who likes to jump on your back and hold on tight while pounding your skull in. The Spitter, like the classic Smoker, is a long-range Infected, armed with acidic saliva that can also pool on the map to corner survivors.

Asymmetric competitive multiplayer also makes its return, allowing one team to play as the Special Infected as they try to stop the survivors from making their escape. 

The Special Infected will make your life a special hell.

If you're not careful, you might find yourself cut off from your team.

14. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Capital ships loom over the battlefield of the future.

The latest in the never-ending series, Infinite Warfare marks Infinity Ward’s return to the franchise after a two-year break.

While the Black Ops trilogy has danced at the edges of science fiction, Infinite Warfare goes straight for the stars at warp speed. In a future where resource scarcity has forced humanity to expand into the solar system, the world governments have come together to form the United Nations Space Alliance, the governing organization to which all the off-world colonies answer. But growing resentment and a desire for independence has led to the birth of the Settlement Defense Force, an extremist group made up of off-worlders who believe that the outer colonies are the future, while Earth is a thing of the past. After an attack that all but decimates the UNSA’s fleet, protagonist Nick Reyes is made captain of the UNSA Warship Retribution and tasked with hunting down the leader of the SDF, Rear Admiral Salen Kotch.

With a new frontier to explore, the core CoD gameplay has evolved significantly. Zero-g environments expand the dimensions of combat, with a Titanfall-esque grappling hook to pull yourself to solid surfaces (or enemies to your fist). In addition to commanding the Retribution, you’ll also get to pilot your own fighter ship, the Jackal, in completely off-rails dogfights. New weaponry, like energy weapons and enemy-seeking grenades, take full advantage of the futuristic setting.

The freedom of the future has allowed level design to become a lot more creative as well. One mission, for example, takes place on a colonized asteroid whose rotation has been set wildly out of control by the SDF. Night and day pass in a matter of minutes, while a closer proximity to the local star means safety can only be found in the shadows.

Infinite Warfare will also take players back to the past. Included with each copy of the game is a remastered edition of the original Modern Warfare, complete with classic multiplayer maps. That alone might be worth the price of admission.

An attack on the UNSA is the catalyst for Infinite Warfare.

Grapple hook + Newton's Laws - gravity = A good time.

15. DOOM

They come in all sizes.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from games like CoD and Rainbow Six is DOOM. Fully embracing its over-the-top premise and unforgiving mechanics, DOOM gives you an arsenal of overpowered weapons and points you in the direction of the Hellspawn pouring from the nearest hole in the fabric of reality.

You are the Doom Marine, the only being capable of fending off the endless forces of Hell and putting an end to their demonic machinations once and for all. The story is basic, and even the Doom Marine can’t be bothered to care. Instead, gameplay is where it’s all at. There is no regenerating health or cover system. Your movements are fast and agile, your weapons are powerful, and the Hellspawn are relentless. Old classics return, like the BFG, while new guns, like the Gauss Cannon, make a welcome debut. Glory Kills allow you to get up close and personal – once an enemy has been damaged enough, a melee attack initiates a brutal execution animation that also rewards you with health and ammo.

Multiplayer follows the well-established tropes of competitive FPS gameplay, with the added dynamic of power ups, such as Invincibility, and the ability to play as one of the Hellspawn. Doing so lets you tear your way through the enemy team and can quickly turn the tide. 

These guys are you enemy in the campaign, but they could be your greatest weapon in multiplayer.

WIth SnapMap you can create your own arenas for endless online fun.

16. PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2 is warfar on an unprecedented scale.

Having discovered a wormhole to the stars, humanity has spread to the planet Auraxis, the only other habitable world to be found. Lush with familiar vegetation and scattered with powerful artifacts of a lost alien civilization called the Vanu, Auraxis was a veritable paradise – until the wormhole collapsed, cutting the planet and its colonies off from Earth and the governing Terran Republic. Now the three factions - the New Conglomerate, the remnants of the Terran Republic, and the Vanu Sovereignty – war for control of Auraxis’ ten continents and the future of humanity.

PlanetSide 2 truly is war on a planetary scale. The game is massively open world, with members of the three factions fighting with troops, ground vehicles, and aircraft for control of the ten continents of Auraxis. These battles can potentially host 2000 players at a time. By participating in combat and completing missions for their chosen faction, players can level up their character and receive Certs, allowing them to upgrade their armor and weapons, as well as their proficiency with different vehicles. Once a continent is controlled by a single faction it can be “locked” into that faction’s control by linking warpgates.

PlanetSide 2 is currently free-to-play, meaning you have no excuse (other than a lack of hardware) not to partake in the largest FPS battles ever created.

Gain enough Certs to master the skies and you'll dominate the battlefield.

With battles of up to 2000 players at a time, PlanetSide 2 is truly epic.

17. Warframe

Constant movement is key in Warframe.

After thousands of years of cryosleep, the ancient Tenno warriors have returned to wage war against three forces that threaten the galaxy. There are the Grineer, human clones bred only to wage war; the Corpus, a corporation as large as a nation and equipped with killing machines and laser weapons; and the Infested, a horde of mutated victims of the Technocyte plague. Using telekinetically-controlled biomechs – Warframes – the Tenno must fight back on all fronts of the solar system, including all the planets, the moons of Mars and Jupiter, and the dwarf planets in the asteroid belt.

Warframe is a hybrid of third-person shooting and melee combat. The Tenno Warframes are agile, sprinting and sliding and jumping across maps to outflank the enemy in numerous missions. Objectives include assassinations, artifact retrieval, and simple survival. Your Warframe is highly customizable – three weapons can be equipped, all gear can be customized using mods obtained from slain enemies or completed missions, and Affinity is gained through experience to upgrade weapons, armor, and attributes. Your Warframe can also be partnered with a Companion, such as the hound-like Kubrow, whose unique powers will aide you in battle.

Warframe features a market in which in-game Credits can be used to purchase gear and blueprints. Gear can also be traded with other players.

The Grineer are a faceless but formidable enemy.

Through endless customization, your Warfram will truly feel like your own.

18. Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 has a visual style all its own.

When two brothers and their respective corporations have a falling out, the family feud turns deadly. Both Reliable Excavation & Demolition and the Builders League United have hired unconventional mercenaries to protect their own secrets while stealing and destroying the competition’s.

TF2 is an objective-based team shooter. By choosing one of the nine character classes, players fill key roles on their team and work together to eliminate the other team, capture enemy intelligence, control territories, defend corporate structures, and gathering enemy artifacts. Each character has their own role, as well as a strong personality. The Scout, for example, is a cocky baseball fan from Massachusetts who uses double-jumps, scatterguns, and a baseball bat to get in and out faster than any other character.

The community around TF2 is strong, thanks in part to constant updates and special events from Valve, the developers, as well as the addictively-collectible hats that can be won and traded with other players. TF2 is featured in regular competitive tournaments, where teams can play for cash prizes.

The original Team Fortress began as a mod for the original Quake. Its popularity led to the fully-fledged sequel. Currently free-to-play, TF2 remains one of the most popular online shooters in history.

The Mechanic can build and repair equipment, while the Spy uses stealth to take advantage of just such an occasion.

Seasonal events keep the community strong.

19. Battleborn

The visuals for Battleborn as as creative as the hybridized gameplay.

After a cataclysmic event of interstellar scale destroyed most stars and planets in the known universe, all the species of the galaxy fled to Solus, the last remaining star and the only bastion of life. There they united against Varelsi, the source of the world-destroying cataclysm, and sent out their Battleborn campions to fight against the ultimate evil in the universe.

In Battleborn, your hero uses their own unique skills and abilities to fight in a hybrid of FPS and MOBA gameplay. Your character can be equipped with three pieces of gear, which require shards to be used in combat. Additional perks and skills can be unlocked as experience is gained, but the levels reset for each new match. Characters fight in both arena-based matches and story-based cooperative missions.

In addition to your character’s levels, your “command level” also progresses as experience is gained. As your command level rises, new characters are unlocked, as well as new powers, outfits, and potential loot.

While Battleborn has drawn comparisons to both Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch, visually it was inspired by the style of Pixar films, as well as Japanese anime. The result is a wholly-unique style for a unique game.

All the races of the galaxy have united to push back Varelsi.

20. Insurgency

The game takes advantage of the Middle East's varied geography.

Set in modern times and in modern conflict, Insurgency places players on either an American security team or an Insurgent group in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each 16-person team is comprised of two separate squads, with each squad featuring player classes that include Marksman, Engineer, and Support Gunner. Unlike most modern shooters, Insurgency forgoes crosshairs, instead forcing the player to use iron sights for accurate shooting. Most weapons are capable of one-hit kills, making gameplay tense and punishing for those overly eager to rush into combat.                                       

Insurgency began as a mod for Valve’s Source engine in 2007, and has since been named Mod of the Year by ModDB and Best Source Mod by SteamFriends. A community-developed mod which places the game in a WWII setting is currently being developed as a full-fledged sequel, titled Day of Infamy, by the Insurgency Development Team. 

Insurgency opts for realism over flash.

Based on real-life experiences with the Canadian Army, Insurgency emphasizes the importance of a squad.

21. Payday 2

Masks don't really do anything other than make you look cool.

As anonymous members of Crime.net, the Payday Gang works for the mysterious Bain to pull off high-stakes heists in Washington, D.C., as well as connect with criminal contractors from the Ukrainian mob, the Colombian cartel, and the Republican political party.

Gameplay is highly cooperative, regardless of whether you’re playing online or with AI teammates. Players choose contracts and carry out a variety of heists, including bank robberies, drug trafficking, election fraud, and smuggling nuclear weapons. How the contracts play out depends on the nature of the job as well as player decisions. Some jobs are carried out across multiple days, culminating in an escape. Most jobs can be completed by a stealthy team without a single gun being fired. A successful contract is completed if at least one player avoids being killed or taken into custody and escapes with the money/drugs/nukes. Players are then rewarded with weapon mods, new masks, and experience, delivered via bonus cards at the end of each contract.

Payday 2 is heavily inspired by heist scenes from films such as Heat, The Dark Knight, and Point Break. Numerous DLC expansions have been added to the game, including missions inspired by Point Break and the Wild West, and introducing new characters such as John Wick and the Hotline Miami hitmen.

It's not just gunplay - you'll need to get around security and breach vaults for a successful heist.

It's always good to have a lookout watching your back.

22. GTA V Online

Purchasing and furnishing your own apartment gives your avatar a place to hang out.

Grand Theft Auto 5 finally brings the legendary series online. You tell your own story by creating and customizing your avatar, purchasing an apartment and vehicles with in-game currency, and exploring the game’s full map with other players. Free roam allows for the same reckless mayhem that can be found in single player, but there’s also structured missions (“Jobs”) available. These Jobs are the only way to earn money, which you need to level up your lifestyle.

Included among the jobs are classic online modes like deathmatch, racing, sports, and wave-based survival, but all with a GTA twist. Thanks to the Content Creator, you never know quite what you’ll get. A deathmatch might have all players fighting in mascot costumes with only golf clubs and hammers for weapons, while a race could feature a Hot Wheels-type track brought to life, forcing you to defy physics using a supercharged go-cart.

By far the most popular online mode is Heists, which was finally brought over from single player by Rockstar in March of 2015 after a long development period. Heist missions are broken up into several stages, including the set-up jobs, the heist, and the getaway. Set-up prepares players for the heist, and might involve scoping out a location or stealing a particular vehicle. The heist itself can involve robbing a bank or releasing primates from a scientific research lab at the behest of an activist group. The getaway could have you using a car or a fighter jet. Before embarking on a heist players use the Planning Room to determine how exactly the heist will play out and what equipment will be used. 

The look of your avatar can be customized as well as your attributes.

How a heist goes down depends on you.

23. H1Z1: King of the Hill

This is what happens when you don't cover that cough.

Better get your flu shot, because the H1N1 strain of human influenza has mutated. Now the titular H1Z1, the virus has run rampant across the United States, reducing the country to an apocalyptic wilderness populated by teeth-gnashing zombies and the desperate few who survived.

Since its announcement and early-access release, H1Z1 has been split into two separate games. While H1Z1: Just Survive is an open-world survival MMO, H1Z1: King of the Kill focuses much more on large-scale PvP deathmatches.  Players compete in a number of game modes, including King of the Kill, in which the last person standing on the podium wins; Battle Royale, a Hunger Games (or Battle Royale) type competition for survival; and Ignition, in which players must get to the safe zone before their explosive vest detonates.

Still in development, King of the Kill is expected to be fully released later this year.

In King of the Kill, the living are more dangerous than the dead.

Character customization lets you embrace your inner psychopath.

24. Shattered Skies

They're weird and pissed off, whatever they are.

When a comet collides with the moon, the resulting explosion sends massive fragments raining down on Earth, decimating the centers of civilization. As if that wasn’t bad enough, some strange voodoo is happening around the impact sites. Massive crystals are forming, buzzing with powerful energy and shrouded in dense fog. And there seems to be something lurking in the fog.

Shattered Skies is an MMO survival-shooter that places you in this unique apocalyptic vision. Your task is not only to survive, but to harness the power of the crystal shards and combat the things brought with the fog. Your character is fully customizable; equip them with loot or craft your own gear by scavenging resources. Join factions and increase your reputation with them to earn more experience and loot, which can then be traded with players in other factions. Fortifications can also be placed in the environment to cover your flank against enemy players and the things that lurk in the mist. 

A massive world is yours to explore.

The moonmen are here, and they are not happy.

25. DayZ

At least you'll die with a nice view.

Boy, those zombies sure do get around. In DayZ they’ve made their way across the pond to Chernarus, a post-Soviet European state that, in all honesty, probably wasn’t a great vacation spot to begin with.

Like H1Z1, Shattered Skies, and about a dozen other online zombie survival games, your goal is to, well, survive. Not just against the zombies, but against the environment and other players. Scavenge for resources and weapons, slaughter your way through zombie hordes (or avoid them completely), and develop trust issues with your fellow humans. It’s an uphill battle, since you start out with nothing but the clothes on your back and a road flare, making you an easy target for both zombies and opportunistic humans. Still in development, DayZ has planned features yet to be incorporated, including communicable diseases (fun!) and the ability to build and reinforce strongholds.

DayZ began its undead life as an ARMA2 mod, but since branched off into its own game. The final version is set to release sometime this year.


Sure, punch the zombie, that'll probably go well.

What is it about the complete collapse of society that turns everyone into jerks?

26. Rust

He'll be fine.

So here’s a change: a survival game that started out with zombies, then ditched them for normal enemies like bears and wolves. Rust was originally a clone of DayZ, until the developers got sick of fighting zombies and decided to do their own thing.

The survival mechanics are familiar: you start out with nothing but a rock and a torch, which you must use to gather resources and craft items to help you make through another day. Blueprints can be found, giving you the ability to craft new tools and structures. Airdrops, which can either be called in by players or occur randomly, provide access to a cache of resources and gear; since the plane dropping the cargo can be seen a long way off, it also tends to draw players to the same spot, resulting in a mosh-pit sans music or fun.

Combat ranges from fists and melee to ranged weapons, including craftable guns. Somewhat unique to Rust is the inclusion of a ballistic trajectory for projectiles; meaning, the further they travel, the farther off-target they’ll drift. This can be counteracted with “High Velocity” ammo.

Airdrops are risk-reward ventures.

How effective your fort is really depends on you.

27. Natural Selection 2

Playing as the Kharaa gives you a unique perspective on the battle.

In space, only the strongest survive. That’s the lesson learned by the Frontiersmen and the Kharaa, two opposing factions (and species) competing for control of resources in order to ensure their own survival in Natural Selection 2.

NS2 is one of the more unique shooters you could choose to play. While the Frontiersmen have fairly familiar weapons and shooting mechanics, the Kharaa rely on melee attacks, as well as their unique abilities, including the ability to walk on walls and even fly. As the Kharaa you can play as various lifeform “classes” and evolve your creature into a more adept killer, while the Frontiersmen can customize their gear and upgrade their weapons. Both sides can change the environment to hinder the enemy – Frontiersmen can use flamethrowers to clear out alien infestations, while the Kharaa can take out the power to cripple the humans.

Unique to Natural Selection 2 is the role of the commander. Each team has one commander player who is given a strategic top-down view of the map. From this perspective the game becomes an RTS, allowing the commander to drop health and ammo, construct buildings, and research upgrades. 

The Frontiersmen faction lets you relive your Colonial Marine fantasies.

As the commander you can shape the course of battle.


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