At the heart of every looter shooter is the quest to become a better equipped, more powerful fighter.
Defeated foes drop randomised loot, including superior weapons, perks, attachments, equipment, and stronger armour. You'll also gain an injection of XP that helps unlock new abilities, letting you tackle tougher challenges.
A looter shooter's content is scalable to your schedule. Mop up a few enemy waves for a quick XP boost and a new addition to your loadout, or take a whole evening to battle through a tense endgame raid.
The best examples of the genre offer robust campaigns and a multitude of side missions to lose yourself in, as well as limited time challenges, events, PvP modes, and more. You'll rarely run out of things to do.
Whether you prefer to play as a lone wolf or a social adventurer, you'll find a challenge to suit your style.
The game scales to the number of players grouped together, while different character classes have been designed so they can complement each other on the battlefield. Spend some time fine-tuning your squad's weapons and abilities and you'll see the rewards in battle.
ESRB MATURE 17+: Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Intense Violence / In-Game Purchases, Users Interact
With four unique character classes to learn, four distinct planets to explore, and a billion possible unique pieces of weaponry to play with, this first-person shooter sequel is packed with things to do.
Enjoy its glorious blend of irreverent humour and bold visual style solo, adventure split-screen with a pal, or with up to three friends online. The hardest decision will be how you spend your time. Do you race the twisted Calypso Twins across the galaxy to be the first to unlock a series of legendary Vaults? Tackle the oddball challenges proposed by the array of bizarre characters you meet along the way? Or test your might in the Circle of Slaughter or Proving Grounds arenas? Whatever you choose, you'll have a blast doing it.
ESRB TEEN: Violence, Blood, Language
Play a superpowered Guardian battling their way across the galaxy in Bungie's superlative sci-fi shooter. Every planet contains a sprawling sandbox which you're free to explore at your own pace. Brimming with missions to complete, compelling characters to meet, and unique enemies to beat.
Even if you prefer going solo, the game's shared world design means every locale feels alive as you cross paths with other players on their own adventures. Team-up to battle an enemy faction, then split and carry on with your own quest.
The exquisite moment-to-moment combat plays like a dream, and regular expansions and updates have kept the gameplay fresh and compelling.
ESRB MATURE 17+: Strong Language, Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence / In-Game Purchases, Users Interact
Step out into a new post-pandemic American landscape as The Division turns its attention to Washington DC in the follow up to 2016’s open world epic.
Whether you prefer to be a lone agent or squad up to tackle outlaws, mercenaries and militia battling for control of the ruined city, you’ll have plenty of weapon and gear options to fine-tune. Most kit is modifiable with blueprints, attachments, and perks, so you can adapt your loadout to match the mission or compliment your squad’s abilities.
For the most battle-hardened agents, the Dark Zone awaits – a lawless area of the city where the enemies are tougher but the loot is more valuable. But beware, before you can extract your bounty, there’s a change you could get jacked by a greedy rogue agent.
ESRB MATURE 17+: Violence, Blood and Gore
Isometric twin-stick shooter action meets RPG-style class and customization systems in this thrilling slice of sci-fi action from Housemarque (Dead Nation, Nex Machina).
You are future Earth's final defence as the planet faces invasion by alien hordes. Pick one of three specialist classes - the sword-wielding Saboteur, the powerful Tank, or the nano machine-wielding Bio-Specialist - and fight back. Blast your way across multiple levels, earning upgrades, new equipment, and upgradable weapons as you do, either alone, in local co-op, or in online multiplayer.
The game doesn't end once you've repelled Earth's invaders either; there's a rich selection of post-campaign challenges to conquer and leaderboards to beat.
ESRB MATURE 17+: Violence, Blood and Gore
Already an enthralling sci-fi experience on launch, this free-to-play third-person sci-fi shooter has only benefited from an ambitious multi-year, multi-expansion plan by developer Digital Extremes, which has also seen numerous gameplay and UI improvements. The additions are many: the in-universe lore has deepened, the game's playstyle refined, while the number of worlds - and the options of how you explore them - has increased.
If you've ever wanted to look like a badass space ninja, Warframe is for you.
ESRB MATURE 17+: Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Nudity, Intense Violence, Suggestive Themes
Play a wise-cracking yet ice-cool merc battling demonic legions in this mystical cyberpunk mash-up.
Like Doom, Shadow Warrior 2 enjoys throwing you into thrilling clashes with multiple enemy types, pushing you to switch between melee and long-range weaponry as situation dictates. You can also use magical abilities to give you the edge against your fearsome foes.
Dropped weapon mods allow you to customize your arsenal to better your odds. Grab friends to join you on your quest with four-player co-op online.
ESRB TEEN: Fantasy Violence
The outlier in this buyer's guide, Hello Games' ambitious, universe-spanning adventure has all the hallmarks of a looter shooter. That its gameplay is skewed more heavily towards looting makes it a great choice if you prefer exploration over gunplay.
Scouring for resources on a multitude of procedurally-generated planets is key to your survival. But as your confidence and equipment grows, so does the enticing options of what you can do next. Design elaborate bases on the surface (or deep underwater) of your favourite planet, build space-faring fleets to explore the nebula, or construct and upgrade weapons to protect yourself from the more dangerous denizens the procedurally-generated universe can throw at you.
Frequent updates continue to make tantalising changes to the base game, ranging from small details to headlining additions such as multiplayer and PS VR compatibility. All have enriched this evocative sci-fi universe, making it even bigger and better to explore.