The most pop­u­lar genre on any con­sole, thanks to awe­some ground­break­ing games of­fer­ing up car­nage and im­mer­sion in equal mea­sure, it was Xbox that truly re­de­fined the FPS


Xbox ab­so­lutely owns shoot­ers. Al­right, so first-per­son shoot­ers had a long his­tory be­fore Mi­crosoft’s con­sole hit the mar­ket in 2001, but when Bungie and Mi­crosoft de­clared that launch game Halo was Com­bat­E­volved, this was no empty boast. That Mi­crosoft built its en­tire gam­ing em­pire on Mas­ter Chief’s ut­terly su­pe­rior FPS is a mat­ter of his­tor­i­cal fact, so as far as we’re con­cerned, 2001 might as well be Year Zero when it comes to shoot­ers. Over the fol­low­ing pages, OXM presents a brief his­tory of the FPS, and we round up the best shoot­ers you can play right now on Xbox One.

Let us briefly re­turn to a time be­fore Halo, or ‘BH’, as we’ll hence­forth never re­fer to it. Pi­o­neer of the genre, id Soft­ware de­vel­oped Doom and Wolfen­stein 3-D in the early ’90s, in­spired by MS-DOS game Ul­tima Un­der­world: The Sty­gian Abyss (a first-per­son RPG with tex­ture-mapped en­vi­ron­ments where you could, gasp, look up and down). Doom was so suc­cess­ful that long be­fore the term FPS was coined, other FPS games were known as ‘ Doom clones’. Around this time, Chicago lads Alex Seropian and Ja­son Jones, in­flu­enced by id’s work, were mak­ing the Wolfen­stein­homag­ing Path­ways Into Dark­ness for the Ap­ple Mac, as the fledg­ling Bungie. Un­veiled at the 1999 Mac­world Con­fer­ence, this was go­ing to be an­other Mac game from Seropian and Jones. They’d al­ready by this point en­joyed suc­cess with FPS Marathon on the Ap­ple com­puter. But in 2000, Mi­crosoft bought Bungie, and its up­com­ing Halo pro­ject be­came the Xbox’s flag­ship ti­tle.

Orig­i­nally, Bungie’s vi­sion was ac­tu­ally closer to Destiny with open-world ex­plo­ration, but as the team grew, it changed from a third-per­son shooter/strat­egy game to an FPS. The game’s iconic Warthog shaped the game’s di­rec­tion the most. Ac­cord­ing to game de­signer Jaime Griese­mer, “In the old RTS-style game it was just so cool to watch a squad of jeeps driv­ing across the ter­rain we wanted to drive them our­selves. Then we wanted to get out of them and run around as an in­fantry guy, and from there it snow­balled.”

After the stu­dio was bought by Mi­crosoft, Bungie rewrote the game en­gine for the Xbox. The hard­ware’s de­vel­op­ment and the game’s for­ma­tion came to­gether in tan­dem, the fi­nal ver­sion of the Xbox con­sole en­abling the full ex­tent of Bungie’s am­bi­tion for the game.

Halo de­fined an en­tire gam­ing gen­er­a­tion – the re­sult of a well-worked game mythol­ogy, an iconic char­ac­ter in Mas­ter Chief and an awe­some split-screen mul­ti­player that kept us hooked long after its bril­liant cam­paign had fin­ished. In­ci­den­tally, the ‘ Com­bat Evolved’ part of the ti­tle was added at the in­sis­tence of Mi­crosoft, which felt the game needed a more de­scrip­tive ti­tle than sim­ply Halo, a ti­tle which Bungie stuck to rigidly, and this was the com­pro­mise. Halo set a new bench­mark for all shoot­ers – other would-be FPS de­vel­op­ers would now re­ally have to up their game. On the N64, Rare had set its own def­i­ni­tion of a great FPS in 1997 with Gold­enEye 007, and an­other of the OG Xbox’s defin­ing games was TimeS­plit­ters 2, by for­mer Gold­enEye 007 devs Free Rad­i­cal. The light­hearted coun­ter­point to Halo’s more po-faced uni­verse, TimeS­plit­ters 2 was a bril­liant and var­ied FPS in­volv­ing time travel and fast, split-screen mul­ti­player.

Ryan heir

The next big leap in shoot­ers came cour­tesy of Steven Spiel­berg. The di­rec­tor had made war epic Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan in 1998, and got his Dream­works In­ter­ac­tive stu­dio work­ing on a WW2-themed game – Medal Of Honor. This paved the way for 2003’s Call Of Duty on PC. De­vel­oper In­fin­ity Ward was made up of MOH vet­er­ans and cre­ated the first COD us­ing id Soft­ware’s Quake III en­gine. The se­ries evolved to be­come a genre ti­tan, thanks to Call Of Duty

“Doom was so suc­cess­ful that be­fore the term FPS was coined, other FPS’s were sim­ply known as ‘ Doom clones’”

4: Mod­ern War­fare. Tak­ing a con­tro­ver­sial leap into the mod­ern age with set­tings echo­ing the Iraq and Afghanista­n con­flicts, it was the on­line mul­ti­player that set the world alight. By in­tro­duc­ing a lev­el­ling sys­tem, it kept play­ers com­ing back for more and jump­started the idea of games as ser­vice. For years, the fran­chise felt un­touch­able, but else­where, DICE was im­pres­sively cre­at­ing con­flicts of up to 64 play­ers and em­pha­sis­ing squad play in its Bat­tle­field se­ries.

By the way, you can thank FPS games for pretty much ev­ery game you’re play­ing. In the late ’90s, id Soft­ware and Epic Me­gaGames were bat­tling it out be­tween their sim­i­larly OTT Quake and Unreal shoot­ers. But the real win­ner was Epic, thanks to Tim Sweeney’s Unreal En­gine – so good that its fourth, 2014, it­er­a­tion is now widely used by game devs for ev­ery genre, not just shoot­ers. In the ‘00s, Cry­tek’s Far Cry opened up the genre’s themes, and the games’ set­tings, but it was Ubisoft, ac­quir­ing the fran­chise, that re­ally built the se­ries. Far Cry 2 felt mas­sive, 50km of African bush, malaria and a Heart Of Dark­ness bru­tal­ity. The genre be­gan to branch out with the likes of BioShock, The Dark­ness, Call Of Juarez and Borderland­s, with its, comic book vi­su­als and trashy hu­mour. Left 4 Dead in­no­vated with co-op game­play and zom­bies, while zom­bies also came to COD.

All of which brings us to the mod­ern era. id Soft­ware is still big news, with Doom Eter­nal, and more Wolfen­stein and Rage on the way. Mas­ter Chief him­self is poised to re­turn with Halo In­fi­nite, and shoot­ers are now huge in the world of es­ports, with the likes of Over­watch – it­self com­bin­ing all the best el­e­ments of FPS ti­tles that have come be­fore it – lead­ing the charge. Plus a great new FPS from Res­pawn, Apex Leg­ends, is now vy­ing for the Bat­tle Royale crown. There’s so many shoot­ers around to­day, it’s dizzy­ing. But we’re to help, turn the page to find the best FPS games you can play on Xbox One right now.

the of­fi­cial xbox mag­a­zine 055

FAR Left The orig­i­nal Wolfen­stein 3-D.

Above BioShock took the FPS to an­other (be­low sea) level.

Left TimeS­plit­ters 2.

AbovE Call Of Duty 4: Mod­ern War­fare. left Call Of Juarez. BE LOW Borderland­s and Dark­watch.

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