There's something special about first-person shooters. Perhaps it is the idea of seeing everything through the character's eyes that makes the player feel more engrossed in the world, or maybe it's the rivers of blood that tend to go hand in hand with the genre. Regardless of the reason, it is clear the perspective is here to stay. Even as technology evolves, first-person shooters are adapting. The most recent trend in gaming, the battle royale, has a couple of entries that employ the first-person viewpoint with titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Apex Legends.
But the genre didn't get to where it is today in an instant. No, it traveled down a long road, continually growing and innovating itself in new, unexpected ways. To celebrate its roots and journey, this list will shine a light on ten games that revolutionized first-person shooters. To showcase the continuity of the genre, they will be revealed in release order from oldest to newest. This doesn't necessarily mean they are the best of their respective era, but a good chunk of them were and are still loads of fun to play today.
10 MIDI Maze - 1987
MIDI Maze took inspiration from Pac-Man. Instead of the players viewing the mazes from above, however, they saw it from the eyes of their avatar, putting them face first into the action. Instead of collecting pellets, the player had to shoot down other similarly designed enemies. The original Atari ST release could also link up to other computers for up to sixteen player death matches. If the name MIDI Maze is completely foreign, perhaps some readers will better recognize it as Faceball 2000, its moniker on the Game Boy and SNES. Amazingly, the Game Boy version also supported sixteen player matches with the use of link cables.
9 Wolfenstein 3D - 1992
Wolfenstein 3D blew people away with its graphics and violence. It was more fast-paced than anything else at the time, and established many conventions future games would follow. Unlike MIDI Maze, Wolfenstein 3D had more defined art and gave people a good reason for playing, as killing Nazis is a cause everyone can get behind. If they can't agree with that, you should definitely find new friends, and maybe phone the FBI too
8 Doom - 1993
It only took a year for Id Software to outdo themselves, improving on virtually every aspect of Wolfenstein 3D with Doom.
Its levels were far more complex, requiring the use of switches and keycards to complete. On top of that, a greater variety of enemies threatened the player. The game mode "deathmatch" appeared in earlier titles, but this was the first game to actually use the term.
7 Quake - 1996
Id once again marched forward, introducing numerous new concepts with Quake. The 3D shooter had free aiming with the mouse, where previous titles only allowed for aiming on a two dimensional plane. Quake was more ambitious during early development - the team planned to feature melee combat and RPG elements - but troubles with the new engine forced them to strip out all of these mechanics. Even as the pure FPS mayhem it released as, Quake set the standard for FPS graphics and gameplay for the rest of the millennium.
6 Goldeneye - 1997
Up until this point, all of the games premiered on computers before downgraded versions made their way to consoles. GoldenEye gave console gamers an FPS to call all their own.
Released exclusively on the N64, this adaptation of the classic Bond film perfectly adapted the genre to the controller. On top of that, its missions featured real objectives other than getting from point A to point B. The cherry on top was the addictive multiplayer component, featuring four-player, frame rate destroying mayhem.
5 Half-Life - 1998
GoldenEye added mission structures to levels, but they were all still levels separated by menus. Half-Life took place entirely in one facility in real time, never taking control away from the player.
This method evaporated the barrier between the character player, engaging them in the narrative in a way only video games could. Special mention has to be made of the mods birthed from the game's source code, too. Counter-Strike was a whole new form of competitive multiplayer, focusing on strategy and group planning.
4 Deus Ex - 2000
Every level in Deus Ex is a sandbox where players where players can tackle an objective in a variety of ways.
If they don't feel like immediately going for the goal, they can explore every nook and cranny, finding new items and reading documents that elaborate on the cold cyberpunk world. This level of interaction with the environment was unprecedented at the time of release, especially in an FPS.
3 Halo - 2001
While GoldenEye was a unique console experience, Halo brought the PC FPS to the home system. This Xbox exclusive was a monster upon release, and the main reason to own Microsoft's debut effort into the market.
Its graphics surpassed anything found on the PS2, and it established several trends other shooters would follow throughout the decade. True to its subtitle, Halo really was combat evolved.
2 Half-Life 2 - 2004
For a franchise to have two entries on the list, the sequel really had to do something special. Half-Life 2 not only expanded on its predecessor's scope by having Gordon Freeman travel throughout numerous environments, it also introduced a new physics system that allowed for new ways to utilize objects in the environment. With the Gravity Gun, players could pick up almost anything and turn it into a deadly weapon. Later sandbox shooters would adapt this philosophy of using the game world as a weapon.
1 Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare - 2008
Aiming down the sights, sprinting, and leveling up in online multiplayer were just a few ideas perfected in Modern Warfare. The military shooter changed the way people play FPS games and had many developers shifting focus away from single-player campaigns to fleshed out online components. For better or for worse, the genre was forever changed after this game's enormous success.