Despite the explosion in popularity of mainstream run and gun multiplayer FPS games over the years, the tactical shooter still remains king for those of us who like our carnage with a bit of cerebral bite. In fact, the tactical FPS genre has seen a resurgence in the last few years as smaller-scale offerings have followed the example set by AAA games like Rainbow Six Siege in bringing the format back to the masses.
Rainbow Six Siege may be one of the finest examples of the genre, but it’s hardly the only operative on the firing range. With strategic shooters and more grounded FPSs once again enjoying their time in the sun, here are 10 games like Rainbow Six Siege that will put the bang in your flashbang.
Games Like Rainbow Six Siege
10. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
A logical jumping-off point from any Tom Clancy game is, oddly enough, another Tom Clancy game. Ubisoft’s tethering to the Clancy license has created a massively profitable partnership that has spawned some authentically visceral games over the years, from the pulsating Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 to the brutal Splinter Cell: Conviction.
Logic should surely dictate that the most sensible place to go after Rainbow Six Siege would be one of the most recent efforts to bear the American espionage thriller’s name. Unfortunately, that would lead players to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which is, sadly, a load of old rubbish.
Those looking for more Clancy-themed fun should instead seek out Ghost Recon Wildlands, Breakpoint’s predecessor and a vastly superior experience to the game that came after it. Much more fun, more diverse and infinitely better designed, Wildlands is the game like Rainbow Six Siege that you should check out if you need to satisfy your Clancy craving.
9. Payday 2
Developer: Overkill Software Publisher: 505 Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch
GTA Online might have brought heists to the masses, but the Payday IP deserves considerable credit for innovating one of the best robbery sims of its time. While there are a lot of entries on this list that have players assuming the role of the noble law enforcer, Payday’s trump card is that it lets you experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence, an experience that can be as exhilaratingly terrifying as it is deliciously rewarding.
Set two years after the first Payday, the twenty-two strong gang is now in Washington for another heisting spree, with players able to heist alone or in a group of up to four. It’s usually banks that you and your buddies will be reliving of their assets, but there’s enough variety, and indeed replayability, to keep the kick of armed robbery alive for a good while. With more player customisation and a greater emphasis on cooperative play, Payday 2 is a wonderful way to reconnect with long lost friends as you wield automatic weapons and try to rob Barclays of its bullion before the SWAT teams show up.
Games like Rainbow Six Siege can just occasionally sacrifice fun for the sake of authenticity, but Payday’s commitment to its own goofiness makes it a tongue-in-cheek delight, and with the long-awaited Payday 3 not far off on the horizon, it’s well worth digging out your clown mask and performing one last job before then.
8. Ground Branch
Developer: BlackFoot Studios Publisher: MicroProse Software Platform(s): PC
If you’re a fan of games like Rainbow Six Siege, you’ll likely either be enamoured by their brutal shock and awe insertion tactics or by the mental and strategic challenge that such shooters give as they tax the mind as well as the trigger finger.
If you’re the sort of person who finds themselves drawn more to the tactical bit than the shooter aspect, Ground Branch is going to be right up your street. Made by Blackfoot Studios, the same developers who worked on the Rainbow Six series and billing itself as putting the “tactical” back into “tactical shooter”, Ground Branch places the focus of its gameplay on realism, tactics and squad cooperation. Putting players into the boots of a paramilitary arm of the CIA’s Special Activities Center and Special Operations Group, Ground Branch takes you through a series of special and covert ops across the world, all of which present their own unique challenges, pitfalls and rewards.
If you’re the sort of foolhardy fellow who doesn’t know a flashbang from a frag, maybe look elsewhere, but for players with a brain sitting beneath their reinforced kevlar helmet, Ground Branch may just be their new thrill of choice. Very much the thinking man’s shooter.
Developer: Offworld Industries Publisher: Offworld Industries Platform(s): PC
Much like Rainbow Six Siege and Ground Branch, Squad is a tactical shooter that emphasises the necessity for strategic coordination, planning and teamwork to get the job done.
Squad is another authentic FPS that again aims to bring the authentic experience of situational combat to gamers with an emphasis always on teamwork, communication and preplanning. What distinguishes Squad, however, is that it looks to combine the traditional aspects of a tactical FPS with larger-scale war sims like Battlefield or CounterStrike, pitting teams of 50 (subdivided into squads of 9) against each other and forcing them to use the terrain and the environment to their advantage to pull out the win.
This isn’t run and gun warfare, however, and teams that fail to work cooperatively will generally find themselves unstuck in the intricate game of chess we call modern warfare. Boasting an integral VoIP system for soldier and squad communication, Squad hammers home the message that, Rambo aside, you can’t win a war on your own.
6. Zero Hour
Developer: M7 Productions, Attrito Publisher: M7 Productions, Attrito Platform(s): PC
There’s a reason that word of mouth and consumer appraisal have made Zero Hour so infamous within the tactical shooter community. As far as the genre goes, M7 Productions’ latest is about as good as it gets.
In terms of format, Zero Hour is the sort of thing you’ve likely seen before if you’ve played games like Rainbow Six. Where it excels, however, is in its intricacies and authenticities, its forensic attention to detail that immerses players so comprehensively it sometimes feels as though you’ve been entirely swallowed up by the game’s nerve-shredding tension.
For instance, Zero Hour features an innovative ‘Planning Table’ feature that allows teams to go through their tactics on a miniature 3D model before they dive into the action. A resource management system, meanwhile, forces teams to think about how they use the weapons, gadgets and tools at their disposal efficiently lest they find themselves in a fight without so much as a rock to throw at the bad guys.
What Zero Hour offers, then, is that all-encompassing feeling of immersion that the best tactical FPSs give, to the extent that you’ll be checking your six and shouting things like “room clear” and “check your six” for days after you’ve finished playing.
Speaking of Zero Hour, the similarly named Firewall Zero Hour is basically Siege in VR but exclusive to PlayStation.
5. Ready or Not
Developer: VOID Interactive Publisher: VOID Interactive Platform(s): PC
Not to be confused with the 2019 action-horror movie of the same name, Ready or Not is VOID Interactive’s hugely competent take on the police insurgency sim that manages to rival the SWAT games themselves both for its authenticity and intensity.
Like many of the games on this list, Ready or Not follows through on its commitment to putting realism and authenticity at the heart of its gameplay, the promotional material boasting that the developers consulted with real-life police teams to create authentic and challenging rules of engagement.
It’s a commitment that really paid off, though, with few shooters feeling so hardcore and intelligently designed. Just like being a real-life SWAT operative, Ready or Not is brutal, unforgiving and seriously challenging, but it’s also supremely rewarding when played correctly.
Developer: New World Interactive Publisher: Focus Entertainment Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X & S, Xbox One
New World Interactive’s indie shooter Insurgency became a massive success following its launch in 2014, shipping more than 5 million copies worldwide and helping put its relatively green developers firmly on the map.
The excellence of Insurgency was soon followed up by a sequel, 2018’s Insurgency Sandstorm, another team-based, tactical FPS built on strategic close-quarters combat and objective-oriented multiplayer but with an added sense of polish and scale. As all sequels should, Sandstorm doubled down on what made the original entry such a hit while retaining the core elements that fans had fallen in love with.
With new maps, scenarios and weapons, character customisation, vehicle-mounted weaponry and new game modes, not to mention a thriving active player base, Sandstorm could well end up as your new gaming obsession.
3. Due Process
Developer: Giant Enemy Crab Publisher: Annapurna Interactive Platform(s): PC
Due Process may sound like a bland, buttoned-up version of popular legal sim Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, but it’s actually by far and away the most colourful and vibrant entry on this entire list.
If you’re tired of the relentless realism of most tactical FPS games and have started driving your friends and family mad by referring to your car keys as “vital assets” or performing tactical room sweeps before you enter the living room, it may be time to mix things up with Due Process. Giant Enemy Crab’s eye-popping shooter is so vibrant and beautiful that it gives your eyes a blessed break from the greys, blacks and occasional hints of neon green that can make playing tactical shooters feel like you’re permanently living inside a pair of night-vision goggles.
Due Process is still a PVP tactical FPS that puts the focus on planning, strategy and teamwork, but its goofy visuals give the game an added spice. Better still, the devs promise a new procedurally generated map every single week to drop on Steam, meaning that level fatigue isn’t going to be likely for long-term players.
2. SWAT 4
Developer: Irrational Games Publisher: Vivendi Platform(s): PC
There are some people who, even today, are coming to terms with the fact that they never got a SWAT 5.
It may be an overstatement to suggest that games like Rainbow Six Siege would never have existed without the SWAT franchise, but it’s hard to ignore the debt Ubisoft’s effort must owe to one of the best tactical insurgency sims ever put together. It may be an all but defunct property now, but it’s well worth digging out the SWAT games for some of the best shooting the early-to-mid-2000s had to offer.
Released in 2004, SWAT 4 was one of the first games to really give players a taste of the realism and authenticity that would become such a trademark of the genre. With SWAT 4, players take charge of a team charged with resolving a number of real-life inspired situations, from rescuing hostages, to apprehending targets or storming locations.
Utterly absorbing and relentlessly gripping, few games have ever managed to match SWAT 4 for pure, white-knuckle immersion, while the game’s expansion DLC, titled Stetchkov Syndicate, is also worthy of rediscovery.
1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Developer: Valve Publisher: Valve Platform(s): PC
Without question the current crown prince of the grounded shooter market.
Released in 2012 as the fourth instalment in the excellent Counter-Strike series, Global Offensive quickly carved out a reputation as being a tense, taut, bare-bones thriller of an FPS that lent itself perfectly to eSports and professional gaming.
Like its predecessors, Global Offensive is an objective-based affair in which two teams, one of Terrorists and one of Counter-Terrorists, compete to either plant or defuse a bomb, secure a specific area or else rescue/capture hostages, each mode giving things an often unbearable level of tension that louder, brasher shooters rarely manage to match. Little wonder that Valve’s exquisite shooter is often cited as one of the finest of its kind on the market today.
What really sets CS:GO apart, however, is its commitment to strategy even within a fast-paced multiplayer framework. Many games reward players for bounding around the map like lemmings on pogo sticks waving around bejewelled assault rifles and teabagging enemy corpses, but CS:GO is all about tactics, decision making and strategy, its maps and modes specifically designed to stretch brains and trigger fingers to the fullest degree while still providing that freedom so many online operatives prize.
For some, Global Offensive isn’t just a shooter. It’s a way of life.
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