Shooting games are one of the most misunderstood genres within the gaming world. Fortunately, we’re here to clear up some confusion and explain why the best shooting games strike a chord with everyone.
Conflict is an intrinsic part of life. Even the most mild-mannered person can react aggressively when backed into a corner. It’s a natural defense that’s been a part of our DNA since time immemorial. With the innate emotions that conflict brings, it’s only normal that shooting games have become popular. The genre itself can trace its roots back to the 70s and labyrinth-style games. The concept of moving through various mazes and taking down enemies caught fire and that led to a wave of early shooters.
Shooters where you control a spaceship or a tank also became popular with arcade gamers, but things really took off in the 80s and 90s. Cockpit shooters introduced the concept of war and 3D battlegrounds added more complexity to the mix. Indeed, by the mid-nineties, the US Army developed mods for popular shooting games in order to train its troops. Officers quickly saw the parallels with real life and, in turn, the practical uses of these games.
As well as being a safe way to develop and test battle tactics for the military, free shooting games were cost-effective to mod. Ammunition was free and there was zero risk of death or injury. This made them a valuable resource and one that’s still used today.
Through the years, premium and free online shooting games benefited from the improvements in technology, with the landscapes and enemies dramatically evolving. Developers used new engines capable of rendering objects faster to map textures onto 3D objects and so create environments with walkways and terrains at varying heights. Certain areas of the setting could be lit up and others cast into darkness to give a more immersive feeling.
Along with this rich environment, enemies developed so that they were living essentially in simulated ecosystems inside these worlds. They could interact with each other and have a degree of freedom in their movements. In turn, this meant the danger could find the player instead of the player always running into danger. The early simulated ecosystems of the late nineties took shooting games to a new level, but the developments didn’t stop there.
By the noughties, players were joined by artificial intelligence (AI) based teammates. Although rudimentary at first, these automated partners allowed for more complex missions. As the player focused on one task, teammates could complete other ones. The AI behind these characters has continued to improve but what this innovation also did was pave the way for team shooters.
Indeed, the natural leap from AI teammates was to create games where real people could link up and play as a team. In tandem with this, scripting engines that could be modified became popular, with huge modding communities coming up. The scripting engines allowed players to tweak their arsenal, incorporate real-time geometry placement, and create more realistic scenarios. All of this resulted in shooting games that have complex, multi-layered worlds, autonomous enemies, and ways for players to work alone or in unison with realistic battle tactics.
As the genre has developed, it has splintered into various offshoots, with online shooting games gradually becoming immensely popular. Today, the main subgenres of premium and free shooting games are:
These shooting games usually have a top-down or side scrolling perspective and are characterized by the constant flow of enemies. The aim is to shoot enemies and survive for as long as possible without being taken down. An extreme example of shoot ‘em ups are bullet hell games. Popularized in the nineties, these games are manic shooters because they place you in the middle of a setting filled with enemy bullets. The aim is to shoot and dodge attacks from all sides for as long as possible.
These are simplified versions of modern first-person shooting games. The action takes place from a first-person perspective, but the position is usually fixed. In other words, you don’t get to move around freely. Instead, enemies pop up and you have to shoot them.
These fun shooting games blend RPG elements and are characterized by the goal of accumulating items. These items will relate to the game itself e.g. collecting ammo, weapons, and armor. The aim is to continue to collect loot in order to survive and progress in the game.
Like shooting gallery games, these offerings put you behind the barrel of a gun. However, in these shooters, you can move around freely and explore different environments as you take down enemies and avoid being hit. A number of the best shooting games came from this sub-genre as they dominated the gaming landscape at one point.
These work just like first-person shooter games but from a different perspective. In third-person shooters, you still get to explore 3D environments. However, the camera takes an over-the-shoulder or aerial view so you can see your character in full.
Some of the most fun shooting games are those with a tactical element. Although it could be argued that all of these games have tactical elements, tactical shooters try to be much more realistic. They usually don’t have regenerative health, enemy attacks are more damaging, they have realistic ballistics with lower accuracy, jumps are less high, and power-ups are limited. All this means that you have to be much more careful when you’re planning and executing attacks.
These games are often played from a first-person perspective but that’s not always the case. The defining feature of this subgenre is that you’re in an arena with multiple players and the aim is to survive. You’re often given a continuous supply of ammo, but you’ll still have to deal with reload times. Team-based shooters also usually have different game modes. You may have to capture an enemy flag, take territory, or simply kill everyone on the opposing team (deathmatch).
This is by far the most popular sub-genre today. These are last-man-standing challenges where you enter a battlefield that keeps getting smaller. You have to collect items and defeat every other player to emerge victorious. The pure adrenaline rush and the thrill of competition combined with how watchable these games are have contributed to making these games huge eSports hits.
Like we mentioned, PC, console, and online shooting games have evolved over the years. Today, there are many sub-genres out there that boast some of the best shooting games. Regardless of whether you’re playing via a desktop device, console or mobile, these games come in all shapes and sizes.
For those that just like the challenge and the tactical side of the genre, there are many fun shooting games that avoid gore as well as some in which you don’t shoot bullets at all, shooting out blobs or other quirky things instead. For those that want something entertaining but affordable, free online shooting games provide immersive experiences without the costs.
If you enjoy war-like scenarios and tactical battles, first-person and arena shooting games are fantastic. Regardless of whether they’re premium or free online shooting games, today’s top hits will provide entertainment, excitement, and a form of escapism.
There’s a common misconception that shooting games are only popular with those that have a penchant for violence. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, some online shooting games can have violent contexts, but that’s not why we play. According to the experts, shooters help us satisfy various psychological urges.
Sociologist Ross Haenfler states that “being ready to fight” is a natural human emotion. This drives us to protect what’s ours and, in turn, be competitive. When you feel under threat, you’re more likely to hit back and want to gain an advantage. This is the essence of competitiveness. You’re fighting to assert your dominance. Premium and free shooting games online allow you to fulfill this desire in a safe, entertaining, and friendly way. Moreover, you can feel a sense of accomplishment every time you win a battle.
Games researcher Scott Rigby tells us that control is just as much of a psychological desire as hunger or sleep. We want to feel as though we’re making decisions and, importantly, that we’re in control of those decisions. Shooting games take this to the extreme. When you know that one move could end your life (even if it’s virtual), everything is heightened. The decisions you make have consequences and that makes you feel more empowered.
Rigby also points to the concept of relatedness. We like to feel a connection to other people. Nowhere is this more crucial than in times of danger. A first-person shooter that requires you to work tactically alongside others is the perfect way to scratch this psychological itch. When you complete a mission successfully in online shooting games, it creates a sense of camaraderie that we as humans crave.
In short, premium and free shooting games allow us to be competitive and live out various scenarios in a safe way. Regardless of whether it’s a realistic or wacky shooting game, there’s a sense of anticipation that triggers an adrenaline response. This stimulates us and, in turn, allows us to fulfill some of our key emotional needs. More importantly, they’re super fun so try out a shooting game today!