Halo is one of the most recognizable first-person shooters around, with the series consisting of five mainline games and multiple spin-offs including Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach. The series is often credited with the popularization of the FPS genre and considered by many to be Xbox’s best exclusive to date. However, Halo has managed to do a lot more than simply move Xbox consoles off store shelves and into players’ homes.
It’s been largely influential on just about every sci-fi shooter released in the last two decades, including games like Destiny, PlanetSide, and Mass Effect. With the next entry, Halo: Infinite, scheduled to launch later this year alongside Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X, we’ve decided to highlight the best games to play in the meantime to scratch that Halo itch.
You’ll find a nice blend of both single and multiplayer experiences that are available on modern consoles and/or PC. Make sure to check back as we will be updating this list in the future with new entries and if you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
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Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | PC
What a better game to kick this list off with than one developed and (as of 2019) published by Halo’s original creators—Bungie. The studio had begun work on the first Destiny back in 2010 following the release of Halo: Reach and as a result, the game ended up sharing a lot of similarities with Bungie’s claim to fame. However, in the years that followed Destiny had established its own identity and began dominating as the premiere ‘looter shooter’ MMO on consoles.
There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way including a publishing deal with Activision which has since ended but both Bungie and Destiny appear to be doing fine. Destiny 2 has pretty much gone free-to-play and Bungie continues to dream up new plotlines and interesting weapons for players to hunt down. Today the series feels less like a Halo copycat and more like an evolution of the iconic shooter’s concepts and mechanics.
Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | PC
Next up we have the sequel to Respawn’s criminally underrated shooter Titanfall, which received a great deal of criticism stemming from a lack of single-player content. After returning to the drawing board, Respawn returned in 2016 with Titanfall 2, which featured an exceptional single-player campaign along with numerous improvements to online multiplayer. However, the game had the misfortune of launching during a crowded release window and ultimately failed to compete with new entries in more established shooters such as Battlefield 1, Gears of War 4, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
Now that the dust has settled and Respawn has gone on to create one of the most popular battle royale games around with Apex Legends, it’s much easier to look back at Titanfall 2 and acknowledge its strengths as a first-person shooter. From fluid first-person platforming to snappy aiming and an arsenal of satisfyingly powerful weapons, Titanfall 2 is nothing short of amazing. Additionally, the game’s solo campaign manages to continuously up the stakes while causing you to feel emotionally invested in the buddy-cop duo that is pilot Jack Cooper and his mech “BT”.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | PC
While even mentioning the existence of Mass Effect: Andromeda is sure to trigger some eye-rolls, we would be remiss to not include it on this list. Sure, it’s not the best display of BioWare’s writing and design capabilities, mostly attributed to a new team handling the game’s development; that being said, Andromeda still managed to deliver an enjoyable sci-fi shooter assuming you were able to look past its technical shortcomings.
Set in the Andromeda Galaxy during the 29th century, the game sees you controlling a new recruit who joins the Initiative and in a turn of events, finds themselves tasked with deciding humanity’s future as they search for a new home and wage war with a violent alien race called the Kett. While the story fails to hit as many high notes as previous entries, there are a few intriguing mysteries to unravel along the way, including a subplot involving the disappearance of a synthetic race of aliens known as the Remnant.
Platform: PS4 | PC
Although PlanetSide 2 has had a long and drawn-out fall from grace since it released in 2012, there was a time where it was considered one of the best free-to-play shooters around. Reminiscent of Halo’s large-scale battles, the game sees thousands of players combining their efforts as rivaling factions fight for control over the planet Auraxis. It plays mostly like a reimagining of the first PlanetSide with some slight improvements regarding population sizes and gameplay balancing.
While its servers are not as packed as they once were back when the game broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest first-person shooter battle with 1158+ players in a single game, you’ll find the PlanetSide 2 community is still very active. As of 2020, the game averages 1300 players a day, making for battles that feel just as massive and engaging as they were at launch.
One could make a case that we would never have gotten games like Halo without the existence of Half-Life, which pioneered the FPS genre and is still regarded as a sci-fi shooter masterpiece. However, Valve would soon outdo themselves yet again by releasing a sequel that improved upon the original in nearly every way. Half-Life 2 features impressive physics simulation systems, well-written characters, and highly-detailed animations for its time.
Even in 2020, the game manages to hold its own in a vast sea of titles that have adopted Valve’s concepts and spun them in wildly different directions. A dystopian setting combined with Gordon Freeman’s plight to reclaim mankind’s freedom from aliens with help from Alyx Vance seems like the perfect precursor to Master Chief’s quest to defeat the Covenant with assistance from his AI companion Cortana.
Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC
2016’s DOOM reboot pulled back on the amount of exploration present in earlier entries and instead shifted its focus on providing players with nonstop action the second they picked up the controller. While this new version of DOOM maintains the series’ ultraviolent combat along with introducing new flashy executions and a myriad of insanely overpowered weaponry, the spirit of the sci-fi shooter remains largely unchanged.
The same can be said of its upcoming sequel, DOOM Eternal, which tells a new story focused on exterminating an even bigger army of demons that have invaded Earth. Similar to the mainline Halo games, DOOM is able to keep players interested by including a variety of different weapon types with unique characteristics that make combat feel more exciting and rewarding.