Best Shooter Games Of 2021 According To Metacritic
2021 had an incredible amount of action-packed gaming content, and if you're looking for the best, you can see which titles were locked and loaded with excellence according to Metacritic.
The best shooters of 2021 are flexible, imaginative, and satisfying to have locked and loaded in your gaming platform of choice. There's something truly captivating about these games, which combine stylish action with fresh twists on familiar gameplay mechanics to stand apart from the pack. We crunched the numbers and came up with a list of the best shooter games of 2021 based on aggregate review scores. We used GameSpot's sister site Metacritic to determine this list. It's worth noting here that we excluded DLC from these rankings, but remasters were eligible.
Back 4 Blood
Back 4 Blood is a surprisingly fun apocalypse to spend some time with, provided that you don't mind dealing with a few legions of ravenous infected humans looking to feast on your flesh. Society may have fallen but weapons aren't in short supply, and Back 4 Blood nails a satisfying middle-ground between thinning the viral hordes thrown at you and wielding a satisfying collection of real-world weapons. Everything just feels great, from classic bolt-action rifles to pay 'n spray machine guns, and you'll never have to worry about running out of targets in this post-apocalyptic hellscape.
Metascore: 77 | Read our Back 4 Blood review.
As Returnal and Deathloop have demonstrated, being stuck in a perpetual cycle of life, death, and rebirth is surprisingly awesome material for a video game to build on. Lemnis Gate is another title to add to this year's timeloop fixation, but unlike the strong single-player offerings of the two previously-mentioned titles, it takes place within an old-school arena shooter frame and adds a novel twist to its design.
Each of the five rounds within a match are breathtaking short, but the real magic here is seeing each of those encounters are layered on top of each other. You're not only chasing your opponent across a variety of modes, you're running after ghosts from the past and seeing the repercussions of your actions. It's an ambitious idea that's well-executed, a quantum leap of time travel and foresight that turns Lemnis Gate into a tactical game of striking back from beyond the temporal grave.
Hell Let Loose
Massive multiplayer games aren't exactly a new concept in this day and age, but Hell Let Loose takes that idea of large-scale warfare and applies a surprisingly thoughtful and strategic metagame to its core. All of this tactical action takes place on gigantic maps, 1:1 scale replicas of actual World War II battlefields. Call of Duty and Battlefield may have the market cornered on energetic run 'n gun gameplay set in that era, but Hell Let Loose approaches the terrifying topic of being a soldier during humanity's biggest war with care, historical accuracy, and absolutely tense moments of conflict.
Far Cry 6
A good Far Cry game mixes action, exploration, and a treasure trove of diversions together into a package that lasts for dozens of hours, and Far Cry 6 is no exception. The big difference in this year's edition of the long-running series is an expanded focus on weapons, and while the effectiveness of each gun you discover in the island nation of Yara may be up for debate, their spectacular handling certainly isn't. While an assortment of pistols, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers provide a gleeful number of methods for transforming a dictatorship into nothing but burning rubble, it's the Resolver class of weapons that truly makes the game's arsenal stand out.
Essentially homemade tools of anarchy, Resolver gear ranges from overpowered nailguns to a crossbows that fire actual harpoons, a sniper rifle that can deliver pinpoint explosive carnage, and even a CD-player that can make heads roll with a well-placed Macarena disc to the noggin. That unique appetite for destruction turns Far Cry 6 into a sadistic sandbox, but when you're wiping out military forces with weaponized crocodiles and a fireworks display that has been turned into a mobile rocket-launcher, you'll be having too much fun to think about the consequences.
Metascore: 80 | Read our Far Cry 6 review.
Crysis Remastered Trilogy
The real appeal of Crytek's Crysis series was that it was more than just a run-and-gun sandbox that looked like a million bucks. Crysis had shooter mechanics that could give any major franchise a run for its money, but it's combination of gunplay and nanosuit skills that made the trilogy such a standout title. Why hide behind a crate when enemies fire on you, when you can absorb the kinetic force of bullets with some armor, or sneak around them using stealth?
Crysis and its sequels mixed these ideas together to create an experience where you always felt powerful, but never overpowered. Each game added to the formula, and by the time that Crysis 3 had rolled around, the experience was pure brutal beauty.
Like bad lifestyle choices, boomerangs always come back to haunt you no matter how hard you throw that silly stick away from you. Boomerang X is an examination of that dark power being harnessed for a more noble cause, namely clobbering enemies with it. Almost everything you do in Boomerang X is tied to your weapon, with the core mechanics being used to decimate swarms of enemies and create a sublime action-rhythm in the process.
Tight controls, plenty of enemy variety, and an immaculately-crafted world makes Boomerang X one of the most satisfyingly fluid FPS games of 2021.
Skill, gear, and challenge are defining elements of the best shooters, and Returnal is a glorious combination of all three. Hard as nails and unrelenting in nature, Returnal never fails to feel great in action as developer Housemarque's talent for arcade-style bullet hell translates perfectly to a lean and mean third-person format. The game walks a fine line between punishing action and eerie exploration, but it keeps its balance thanks to a collection of weapons and power-ups that function harmoniously with the PS5's superb DualSense controller.
Metascore: 85 | Read our Returnal review.
Years in the making, Halo Infinite is easily developer 343 Industries' most ambitious stab at the franchise yet, an attempt that has thankfully grown out of Halo 4 and 5s rebellious phase--jump-boosts? Heresy!--and opted for a back to basics approach to Master Chief's latest adventure. Playing like classic Halo but looking better than ever while taking full advantage of an expansive environment that's just begging to be explored, Halo Infinite is pure fun, constantly rewarding, and encourages you to experiment with every tool in the sandbox.
And so far, the game's multiplayer component is pretty great, too. It's still early days, but the core that Halo Infinite's online action will be built around is mostly solid--those progression issues need to be fine-tuned--and amplifies everything that's great about Halo multiplayer into a fast-paced and smooth experience.
Metascore: 86 | Read our Halo Infinite campaign review and our Halo Infinite multiplayer review-in-progress.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
The best games in the shooter genre don't just have weapons that feel great, they also look brilliant and offer a variety of methods for quickly taking out enemies. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a masterclass of weapon design, as Insomniac's best digital gunsmiths put together an arsenal of gear that ranges from standard blasters to more exotic weapons such as a minigun which unleashes a barrage of tiny black holes.
There are even quirkier tools that you can make use of, such as a gun that spawns a legion of robot minions, a weapon that uses your green thumb to unleash topiary terror, and the classic Ryno-8 that rips reality itself apart. With a selection of weapons that good and gameplay that makes using them an absolute thrill, it's no wonder that the latest Ratchet & Clank game earned a spot on this list.
Metascore: 88 | Read our Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart review.
The early hours of Deathloop require cunning and stealth tactics to survive the lethal island of Blackreef, but inevitably, something will go wrong in this temperamental temporal action-adventure. Cycle in a few deaths, progression, and the acquisition of some neat time-bending materials, and you'll soon be unloading both bullets and paradoxes with pinpoint precision. Impactful gunplay pairs beautifully with Deathloop's more exotic skillset, and with some overt Metroidvania influences guiding your trigger finger, the game runs like a beautifully brutal ballet of violence and experimental mayhem.
Metascore: 88 | Read our Deathloop review.
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