The Best Mindless Shooter Games To Play Now
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A modern video game is designed to keep your eyes fixed on it by offering as much engagement as possible with detailed builds, loadouts, and other customization factors. For the purposes of this list, however, we're looking at games where you can easily switch your brain off and go into a zen-like mode while making good progress. Shooter games of the first and third-person variety are usually the best at offering this specific kind of cathartic entertainment, as most of them share a few common and DNA strands.
These are the games that adopt a "shoot first and ask questions later" mentality, regularly throwing you into arenas where your sole goal is to destroy everything in front of you. They're good fun, and allow you to take your mind off of more pressing concerns. We've rounded up 19 of the best shooters that satisfy without making you think too much. These games range from two-fisted Nazi-annihilating simulators to cult-classics that'll put a smile on your face--not that annihilating Nazis wouldn't do that, too.
Most of these games are available to play on multiple PC and console. To add to the zen-like immersion, consider playing them with a gaming headset. Check out our roundups of the best gaming headsets for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Also, if you're looking for a new controller that's great for first-person shooters, take a peek at our roundups of the best controllers for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.
The original Rage was a grim and dark glimpse into a post-apocalyptic future, but Rage 2? A surprisingly colorful sequel that ditched the dour atmosphere of the original and instead focused on creating a dynamic sandbox in which to unleash a unique skillset of devastating moves. Rage 2 hits a sweet spot for fun, chaos, and exploration that you can lose yourself in for days at a time.
Read our Rage 2 review
Serious Sam series
Serious Sam games are some of the best target ranges in gaming today, offering wonderfully absurd battlefields in which you feel like a force of well-armed nature as you annihilate entire armies from existence. While each entry in the series has its own quirks, enemies, and arsenal of weapons to collect, two elements are consistent across all games: They all feel superbly cathartic to play as unleash your own personal bullet hell on anything that stands in your way, and two, the scream of a headless kamikaze marine is still one of the most terrifying sounds in all of gaming.
Read our Serious Sam 4 review
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine
In an age where every burly soldier was taking cover behind some conveniently placed crates, Warhammer 40K: Space Marine was the exception to the rule. Why cower behind barriers when you can simply wade into the thick of an Ork mob and literally cut them down to size with a chainsaw sword? There's been plenty of Warhammer 40K games in the years since Space Marine arrived, but few have been able to stand up to the brilliant gratuitous violence of this heretic-slaying masterpiece. Even better? A sequel is on the way.
Read our Warhammer 40K: Space Marine review
Blood 2: The Chosen
With first-person shooters on the rise, Blood 2 was lost in the scramble of that year and was criticized for being generic in comparison to some other games. More than two decades later, that criticism still holds up, but the game is still comfort junk food that knows what it wants to be and delivers perfectly serviceable dual-wielding action. If you're looking for some retro fun, check it out on Steam or GOG as those editions contain the add-on package The Nightmare Levels.
Tower of Guns
Some of the best games to hit your brain's off switch are the ones that do so by offering a digestible burst of intense action: something that Tower of Guns excels at. It has a great hook with its randomized levels, throws a World War worth of bullets at you in every run, and its lunchtime-break design makes it highly replayable. If you're looking for snack-sized fun to unwind with, Tower of Guns is perfect for any gamer feeling a little bit peckish.
Read our Tower of Guns review
In the mood for a game that has incredible gunplay, special abilities, hordes of enemies, and an endless supply of one-liners that are so salty that they make the Dead Sea taste like purified water in comparison? Then you'll want Bulletstorm, an action-packed extravaganza of big guns, electro-whips, and an irredeemable cast of foul-mouthed misfits looking to escape a deadly planet. It's rude, crude, and over-the-top violence that has stood the test of time, creating a gun-heavy guilty pleasure for the ages.
Read our Bulletstorm review
Shadow Warrior series
For anyone looking to return to a simpler time of first-person action, the Shadow Warrior trilogy is an excellent B-movie experience with S-rank shoot-'em-up violence. These are admittedly unremarkable games at first glance, but they do take the fundamental gameplay ideas of the genre and polish them to a mirror shine. Forget about story and embrace the need for violent speed, and get ready to use some cold steel to cut demons down to size in arenas that seldom give you a chance to breathe.
Read our Shadow Warrior 2 review
Before it was crafting one of the best superhero game franchises of all time, Insomniac was working on an Xbox exclusive that combined pure style with a cheeky attitude. Imagine a post-apocalyptic Tony Hawk Pro Skater where you have to regularly take on monsters fueled by energy drinks. It's silly, oozes charm, and the arsenal of DIY weapons that you'll use have a scrappy charm to them that would make MacGuyver proud.
Read our Sunset Overdrive review
Shoot, loot, and get a better gun. While there is more to Borderlands than this, Gearbox's sci-fi shooter is still absolutely thrilling to play when you find your groove. Mix a ludicrous amount of firepower together with a set of powers that can turn bandits into a pile of blood and organ slurry, keep your eyes open for shiny upgrades, and definitely don't forget to attend Claptrap's pizza party.
Read our Borderlands 3 review
There's no shortage of retro-themed modern shooters on the market, but for the connoisseurs out there, you can't beat the original taste of Doom. Alongside its sequel, Doom is still a masterpiece of corridor shootouts, excellent weapon design, and thrilling fights against the forces of hell. Thanks to a robust modding community, those key aspects are amplified in the maps that have been released over the years, ensuring that you'll never run out of content to dive into.
Read our Doom review
Easily one of the best things that Platinum Games has ever produced, Vanquish isn't just a stylish sci-fi blast of explosive fun that would make Michael Bay jealous; it's also a captivating pile of fun thanks to its unique slide mechanic, as you transform into a heavily armed bobsled that rockets around an arena and regularly flanks unaware enemies. It's as over the top as can be in the action department, and once you get the gameplay committed to memory, Vanquish is pure cathartic carnage that still feels as fresh to play today as it did in 2010.
Read our Vanquish review
One of Sega's most underrated games of all time, Binary Domain feels and plays like the complete antithesis to developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's Yakuza games. It has just enough story to get you hooked, favors guns over fists, and each character has the bare minimum amount of personality needed for you to make certain that natural robotic selection doesn't off them. With chunky third-person action, satisfyingly brutal weapons, and plenty of set-piece moments, Binary Domain is a cheesy cult-classic.
Read our Binary Domain review
A subversive homage to classic shooters, Dusk makes you feel right at home as it places you inside of meat grinder corridors that require you to blast through any obstacles in your path. It's a game that makes you think fondly about the classic run-and-gun shareware of your youth, but manages to convey that sensation through a modern lens instead of rose-tinted glasses. Plus, the spooky vibe is brilliant and the pixelated art direction allows you to kick some blocky ass.
While most retro shooters are love letters to the likes of Doom and Quake, Amid Evil pays homage to games like Heretic and Hexen, instead. After all, why use bullets when a bolt of lightning or a fireball is much better at wreaking havoc on your foes? There's not much of a story to be told within the pixels of this game, but there is a fantastic flurry of fantasy firepower to wield in this throwback to yesteryear.
There's no kill like Ultrakill, a violent first-person shooter that is focused purely on transporting your mind to a zone of action so intense, you essentially go into autopilot. It might have retro-themed graphics, but this game packs a punch with plenty of wall-jumping, combo-tracking, and overpowered weapons. It's an adrenaline-charged game in which you barely have time to blink, but it weaves its various mechanics into a package that feels phenomenal to play, especially when you let go of your regular thought processes.
Far Cry 3 - 6
You could argue that Far Cry has barely iterated on its formula since the third game, but when you've got an experience that good, there's a simple joy to be found in its familiar firepower. You boot up any game in the series, and you know exactly what you're in for: a charismatic villain to pursue, plenty of weapons to collect, an ecosystem to destroy with Molotov cocktails, and at least one digital drug trip as you search for enlightenment with a loaded gun.
Read our Far Cry 6 review
An unrelenting combination of new and old ideas, you won't be engaging your grey matter when playing Prodeus because you simply won't have time to. This retro shooter regularly throws everything it can at you, but you'll regularly be juggling a huge grin on your face alongside fight-or-flight survival instincts. It's ferocious fun with a unique look and modern shooting action that is thrilling.
Evil West plays like a classic 7/10 game from the mid-2000s, a collection of great ideas that don't quite gel well together but can still siphon off a few hours of your time with pure mindless fun. It's a Wild West Van Helsing, led by an uncharismatic sack of potatos who prefers to let his electrically-charged fists do the talking for him, looks gorgeous, and has some terrific high noon gunplay if you don't mind sitting through some of the more repetitive enemy encounters.
Read our Evil West review
Just Cause 3
Just Cause 2 put Rico Rodriguez on the gaming map, but Just Cause 3 perfected its sandbox formula with some massive upgrades. Besides the fact that it still has some of the best explosive effects in gaming, the expanded movement options, weapons, and wingsuit acrobatics are a combination of thoughtful upgrades in an open world where there's always something waiting to be blown up. Imagine a playable crate of scenic TNT, and you've got Just Cause 3 in a nutshell.
Read our Just Cause 3 review