Over the past few years, there has been a steady rise in competitive gaming. Now, games seem more tactical and involving than ever before; however, with such a wide variety to choose from, you might be wondering “which one?” This guide helps to introduce you to five of the most popular first person shooter games available today.
Counter Strike Global Offensive
Counter Strike may have been one of the first-ever competitive games, challenging Quake for the title of “oldest competitive game.” Counter Strike has gone through numerous iterations including the base Counter Strike back in the late 1990s, which was a Half Life mod originally, 1.6 (considered the best iteration), Source, and now Counter Strike Global Offensive.
Global Offensive differs from the previous games in that it has changed a lot of mechanics and quirks of the game in order to be more accessible and make the game flow better. Global Offensive now officially supports a 5 versus 5 format, based around the Counter-Terrorists fending off the Terrorists from either bomb sights or intending to rescue hostages. There are a variety of maps, but there are only two game modes; these are destruction and hostage rescue.
Global Offensive is hyper-realistic, with recoil being a huge mechanic in the game; unlike games such as Halo, you will not be able to jump around like a madman and still make accurate shots. Instead, the game takes a very realistic approach with real guns, such as the Soviet AK-47, a typical sawed-off shotgun, and a wide variety of sidearms (Glock is used by its name!). Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists share some weapons, but have a different type of arsenal; the Counter-Terrorists have more accurate weapons, while the Terrorists typically have weapons that are higher-power and lower reliability.
In addition to the competitive gamemode, there is also a casual mode, an “arms race” (gun game, where you must progress through the game’s guns and achieve the next with a certain number of kills), and a more relaxed version of the competitive server; of course, this is all in addition to the wide number of community-hosted servers that are available, which may host games like Zombie Panic or Jailbreak. The game also has wide customization support, allowing for players to purchase gun and knife skins, stickers, and soundtracks. There is also a rumor that Valve, the company that made Global Offensive, may be including purchasable sprays soon, as well.
Counter Strike Global Offensive is available on Steam for the price of $14.99, yet typically goes on sale; for any PC gamers, this one may be a must-have in your inventory. While Global Offensive has appeared on the last-generation of consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3), the game has not been supported and would not be worth playing on them.
Overwatch is the baby of the list; having only been released in May, Overwatch has struck a chord with many people for its colorful cast and accessible gameplay. While I personally am not a fan of Overwatch anymore, I cannot deny the merits in the mechanics and integrity of the game.
Instead of relying on typical faceless characters or archetypes, Overwatch instead introduces each character as a real organism. There is a huge cast of characters with more characters intended to be added each year (for a long time, as Blizzard has great support for their games) that all have special abilities; to list them all and describe how they work would require a guide for each and every individual character. However, the characters are broken up into four class archetypes; attack, defense, support, and tank. The most interesting thing to note about Overwatch is that the game involves a small arsenal for each character, typically one or two weapons, and a number of abilities; the abilities are what change the game. Each character has two abilities that are on a shorter cooldown, and one “ultimate” ability that is a real game changer. Players build up their ultimate ability meter by dealing damage, taking damage, and some passively generate the charge.
Overwatch has both a competitive and casual mode, and is only based on a 6 versus 6 format; no more than 12 players can join in a game. The competitive mode has a restriction of forcing only one character per team; for example, you cannot run a composition of 5 Soldier 76s and 1 Lucio anymore. Competitive mode typically encourages players to use the voice feature included with the game. There are a number of maps, which unfortunately do not display their game mode for players to know. The three types of game modes are payload, king of the hill and capture point.
Overwatch is the most casual, newbie-friendly game on this list; the game runs a bit slower and is very accompanying to all playstyles. Unfortunately, the lack of accuracy in the action is why I found myself playing it less and less; the netcode of the game is quite poor, as things will take a few moments to register. This makes things sometimes seem unfair. Players that are looking for customization will find a great deal of it; Overwatch has customization in the form of character skins, emotes, phrases, sprays, and now even weapon skins.
Overwatch is available on PC for a digital download that costs $40, or is available in a $60 edition (the “Origins Edition,” which includes nothing more than some exclusive goodies like skins) which also includes availability for Xbox One and PS4.
Call of Duty
Call of Duty, as much as it may get made fun of, is a very competitive game that has wide support. Despite there being more than 10 main line releases, there is a lot of freedom in being able to pick and choose what type of game you want to play; while the older games may not be supported as competitive anymore, the new ones are always finding themselves embroidered in the competitive gaming history.
Call of Duty may be the single most popular game on this list, and does not need much of a run-down; the game focuses on iron sights/aiming down sights for a realistic effect, as well as giving players little health. This makes it a very guerilla-friendly game and encourages hit and run tactics, and also contributes to the fast paced nature of the game. There are a variety of weapons available including submachine guns, light machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, carbines – you name it. Call of Duty may be the ultimate game for customization-enthusiasts. In addition to a variety of weapons, there is a further variety of add ons for the weapons such as scopes, rails, mounted add-on weapons like shotguns and grenade launchers, and a whole lot more. You can even customize the skin and texture of your gun! There are a variety of game modes, but the most popular is the ever-infamous deathmatch mode.
Call of Duty is typically played competitively in a 4 versus 4 format. The latest release, Black Ops 3, features heavily in the esports community and even has the developer’s sanctioned approval and support. However, for those not looking to play in the latest game, there is a “Pro Mod” variant available for the 4th release, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This version is hailed as the holy grail of the Call of Duty series, and takes away a lot of features to make the game far more competitive; an example is the removal of the minimap and weapon add ons.
The beauty of the Call of Duty series it is magnificent gameplay, which really does not change from release to release; why fix what isn’t broken? Call of Duty can be found on a variety of consoles and systems, starting with 4 being available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, and including a remastered version for the Xbox One and PS4. Typically, the games can be found for around $30 but enter retail at $60 with a release every November.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
Having only been released last year, Rainbow Six: Siege is making waves with the community. While only around 15,000 people play on PC daily (with about twice that on consoles), the game has been hailed as deviating from a safe formula and introducing some new twists and mechanics to a tactical first person shooter.
Rainbow Six: Siege bases around a team of a Counter-Terrorist Unit versus a team of terrorists; typically, the Counter-Terrorist Unit will be the attackers and the terrorist team will be the defenders. Each team has a choice of four different characters, which all specialize in interacting with the environment in some way (a HUGE part of Siege). These characters can be upgraded and somewhat customizable, although the customization is far more restrictive than most other games on this list. The fifth player will play as a “recruit,” which is just a character without any special abilities; however, they do have far more customization options than the named characters.
Players engage in 5 versus 5 combat, and the game is centered around a “siege” format; the maps are rather close quarters and take place in locations like houses, universities, and other tight-quarter buildings. Siege encourages players to think tactically and creatively, as the environment can be manipulated to allow for new paths to be created and offer alternate decisions in order to go about the match. While the game is restricted to 5 versus 5 for the player versus player aspect, there is also a player versus environment aspect that is not as tense and much more friendly. The competitive mode does include ranks and offers some slight changes, such as allowing players to decide their spawn.
Rainbow Six: Siege is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC for the price of $49.99. There are some expansions added on which require a purchase, but will add in additional maps, operators, items, and even game modes and events.
Team Fortress 2
Rounding out the list is a classic yet an old goodie, Team Fortress 2. Team Fortress 2 is nearing its 10-year anniversary (released on October 10, 2007) as The Orange Box, which contained Team Fortress 2, Portal, and the Half Life Series, yet shows no signs of slowing down; more than 50,000 people still play the game daily, on average.
Team Fortress 2 is a class-based first person shooter, with nine distinctive classes. These are broken down into assault, support, and defense archetypes; the Scout, Soldier, and Pyro are the assault classes, the Demoman, Engineer, and Heavy are the defensive classes, and the Medic, Sniper, and Spy are the support classes. In addition to having nine separate classes, each class has an armory of weapons that they can additionally equip. Take the double jumping Scout, for example; the Scout’s default primary weapon is a “scattergun” (sawed-off shotgun, perfect for close quarters), but there is also the option to equip another gun called the “Force of Nature.” The Force of Nature allows for the Scout to essentially triple jump at the cost of losing 4 ammunition in his magazine, and forcing the weapon to empty both chambers when fired. The little details like “side-grading” weapons give Team Fortress 2 its legendary longevity, and allows it to accustom to all play styles.
Team Fortress 2 comes stocked with a variety of modes, one of which is the recently released competitive mode; the competitive mode is a 6 versus 6 format. The competitive format is much more focused and less hectic than typical servers, which usually support anywhere from 18 to 32 players. One noteworthy mode that is not officially supported, yet might be more popular than the competitive format, is the Highlander mode, where the server will force itself into a 9 versus 9 situation. All 9 players on each team must choose a separate class. In the competitive gamemode itself, there are a variety of different modes; payload, king of the hill, capture the flag, capture point (one attacks and the other defends), and assault. Assault falls under the Capture Point map abbreviation, but is called a different name to deviate between the two game modes. It is a back-and-forth battle between capturing a series of points, where each team starts with two control points and must capture the neutral one and push on to take the other team’s capture points
Team Fortress 2 is now free to play using Steam (and has been since 2012!), but competitive mode requires a “premium account;” simply spend $5 to upgrade your account to premium, or if you are lucky, purchase a copy of The Orange Box from stores. The Orange Box is available on Xbox 360 and PS3 as well, but should not be purchased for the sole intent of playing Team Fortress 2 due to the lack of support – it has been over 6 years since the last update.