The endorphin rush from scavenging bigger and better gear appeals to all gamers, without exception. This triumph is all the more potent when looting the equipment from your rival’s still smoking ragdoll. Hence, the “looter shooter” genre combines the best of all worlds in one compact package. Roll across the landscape with your friends like a locust horde, vacuum up anything of value, and take the rest by asserting dominance over your foes in a show of gaming prowess.
Pretty sweet, right? In this article, we’ll look at the best looter shooter games around. If you’re ready to collect that sweet, sweet loot, let’s begin.
Top 7 Best Looter Shooter Games
Let’s start at #7 and work our way down to the #1 best looter shooter.
7. Risk of Rain 2
- Developer: Hopoo Games
- Squad Size: 1-4
- Release: 2019
The first game we’re going to check out is Risk of Rain 2, an indie darling that is an incredible sandwich of experiences you have to play to believe. It may clock in at number seven on this list, but it could hang with the heavyweight triple-A contenders any day of the week.
It’s a procedural game which randomizes the levels each time you play. It’s a roguelike where death carries a heavy penalty, and the game continues to endlessly ramp up in difficulty until you fall beneath the surging tide of enemies. And of course, it’s a looter shooter. There’s tons of crazy items to hoard for yourself (your teammate didn’t see it first, let’s be honest) with dramatic gameplay consequences. Grab the Hopoo Feather for bonus jumps, the Alien Head for reduced ability cooldowns, or the Goat Hoof for bonus movement speed. Yeah, it’s one of those sorts of games. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.
It’s simply dripping with indie charm, from the simplistic but effective artstyle to the daring twists on the formula for… well, it’s hard to tell what game it was trying to be at root. In true indie game fashion they weren’t afraid to throw a ton of ingredients in the soup. But what comes out the other side is simply delicious. Especially for looter shooter fans looking to fight until their final breath beside their squad on an alien world. It starts out slow but ramps up in a hurry. Just like a good meal.
If you think it’s too easy, wait until the difficulty climbs all the way up to HAHAHA level. Yes that’s actually what it’s called.
- Developer: Epic Games
- Squad Size: 1-4
- Release: 2017
Not only is Fortnite not number one, I’m placing it at number six. How’s that for controversy?
Let’s be honest: Fortnite wouldn’t be in my top looter shooter games at all if it didn’t do everything very well. From movement to gunplay to its novel construction mechanics — Fortnite is a solid game. The looting is a breeze, with easy color coding to see when a gun might offer an upgrade, and the sprawling map has plenty of unique and exciting locations to visit. The recent emphasis on vehicles even brings that aspect of Epic Games’ platform-in-disguise up to par with the rest of the crowd. And where else can you have a battle to the death interrupted by a Marshmello or Travis Scott concert?
Epic is doing incredible work on their canvas here, and the game happens to be a good time too. But while it’s solid in all areas, it fails to master any one of them. The construction may be the standout feature, but at high skill levels, it becomes a nonsensical blur on Twitch streams.
But hey, maybe that’s your jam. In that case, you’ll be right at home on the Battle Bus. Just make sure to thank the bus driver!
5. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Danger Zone
- Developer: Valve Corporation
- Squad Size: 1-3
- Release: 2018
Surely you’ve heard of Counter-Strike. Perhaps you’ve even lost hundreds or thousands of hours to the grandfather of all modern competitive team-based shooters. I know I have. So when Valve announced a battle-royale looter shooter mode for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive called “Danger Zone,” the gaming world took notice. How would they pull that off? Would it even be good?
Wouldn’t you know it — it’s actually an incredible experience.
The real shortcoming here is the maps. The aged Source Engine struggles to render large, open areas. The maps are built around this fact, and the player count is limited as well, rendering the mode less awe-inspiring than its competition. Fortunately, the gunplay and player movement in Counter-Strike is some of the best in the business, and that translates directly to Danger Zone. This means that it offers a uniquely high skill ceiling that makes every encounter skill-based in a way few other games do. Just like the base game.
Moreover, you’ll find plenty of upgrades and weapons around the map — this is a looter shooter, after all. But you can also find cash in bags or on enemy bodies. The cash allows you to make a high-risk, high-reward decision to call in a drone delivery of the weapon or equipment of your choice. It’s a novel tweak to the formula that feels very Counter-Strike and creates exciting tactical decisions every round.
Though it’s rough around the edges, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Danger Zone is an incredible looter shooter that fans of the genre would be remiss not to try at least once.
4. The Division 2
- Developer: Massive Entertainment
- Released: 2019
- Squad Size: 1-3
When Tom Clancy’s name precedes a game you know you’re in for a ride. An experience so vaguely plausible, so existentially scary, that you spend as much time up at night confronting the yawning black future it presents as you do actually playing the game. That trend continues with The Division 2, which I remind you was released in early 2019, placing the player in the aftermath of a widespread and devastating pandemic which has led to civil war.
Even for Tom’s brand that’s a little on the nose.
Terrifying and portentous parallels aside, if you want to gun down bad guys and take their stuff, The Division 2 is bound to be up your alley. The cover-based gameplay tastes like Gears of War but better in the best way. Roll across the ruins of Washington D.C. with your squad and form the last line of defense between the American people and the chaotic abyss. Coordinating an assault on one of the Elite scavengers roaming the city while barking orders at your friends (or being barked at in turn) is a treat few games capture like a Clancy game.
But seriously, what other game lets you roleplay as a squad of alpha warriors moments before discussing the gorgeous new kneepads you just looted? I submit not many.
3. Apex Legends
- Developer: Respawn Entertainment
- Squad Size: 1-3
- Released: 2019
Titanfall 2 was a hell of a game. From some of the minds behind the legendary Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, it brought incredibly fast-paced and tight multiplayer with an emphasis on scale. They’ve got a thick sandbox stuffed to the brim with parkour style high-speed slides and aerial acrobatics underpinning fun and functional guns.
So, of course, they were going to look at it eventually and say: “let’s make a looter shooter with all that.”
Apex Legends brings the heat straight from Titanfall 2 to the battle royale arena, keeping squads small but the action big. You and three friends drop into one of a few different arenas (growing with each season), fight over color-coded loot ala Fortnite, and scramble for the high-value airdropped loot on your quest to be the best. And in a novel twist, death is not the end. Your teammates can retrieve tags from your corpse and summon you back into the fight, sans your equipment. This adds a whole new level of excitement to intense firefights, and keeps you engaged even after you kick the bucket.
Apex Legends is about as good as it gets for looting and shooting. But there are a couple more entries in this top looter shooter games list…
2. Destiny 2
- Developer: Bungie
- Released: 2017
- Squad Size: 1-6
Eyes up, Guardian.
Here it is up front: If you’re a fan of looting, shooting, and space cowboys, you’ve either played Destiny 2 or this little section will likely convince you to do so. Yes, space cowboys—just like that one short-lived TV show.
In Destiny 2, centuries have passed since humanity experienced a cataclysmic extension-level event. The Traveler, a paracausal entity of unknown origin and intent, seemingly sacrificed itself to preserve what few humans remained. It sent shards of itself—called Ghosts—into the galaxy with a single-minded purpose: to find Guardians among the bodies of dozens of worlds. To imbue them with Light, thereby resurrecting them from the dead with incredible new power, and place the fate of humanity in their hands.
That’s where you come in. When you start your life as a Guardian, you can choose from one of three archetypes: the brawling Titan, the ranger-esque Hunter, or the sorcerous Warlock. But that only determines how you give form to the Light. The real bread-and-butter of saving humanity comes at the smoking end of a gun barrel. And in the immortal words of Neo, Destiny contains “guns, lots of guns.”
Frankly, the sheer variety Bungie crammed into the guns is astounding. Every mission—every strike, raid, and patrol—you’re going to walk away with at least one more gun than your started. And every piece is unique in both form and function. That’s not to mention the armor sets, the other miscellaneous odds and ends, and the shaders which allow you to customize your armor’s base and trim colors to your heart’s content. This is a looting fanatic’s dream game. And hey, it also offers the rare opportunity to save humanity from a second cataclysm while cruising the Solar System from Mercury to Io.
All of this, hundreds of hours of gameplay and thousands of unique loot drops across a handful of worlds, can be experienced either solo or with a friend. Several friends, even. How’s that for a value proposition? Not to mention the competitive modes, which are Bungie-made and player-approved. The House of Halo still knows how to make a fine game.
But time will tell whether Light and Dark are so separate after all.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Warzone
- Developer: Infinity Ward
- Squad Size: 1-3
- Release: 2020
In 2019, Modern Warfare returned to reign as the competitive shooter king. The maps are incredible, designed with verticality and plenty of ways to play that keeps them fresh time after time. The weapons leveraged the series’ staple mod system to ensure your loadout uniquely suits your playstyle. And the game modes were time-tested and rock solid. Everything was polished to a mirror-like sheen.
But something was notably absent: the next iteration of Blackout, the battle royale experience introduced in the Black Ops series. It was decent, but nothing exceptional. Clearly, that wouldn’t do for the followup.
When players started noticing that individual multiplayer maps could be seen from others, the puzzle pieces began to click. It hinted at a vast, sprawling master map to connect them all. Like the One Ring. The massive Ground War battles were just the tip of the iceberg. Something bigger lay just over the horizon.
Enter Call of Duty: Warzone. The vast majority of the multiplayer maps players had already come to know and love were but cogs in a massive machine — a machine built for battle royale; for looting and shooting on a scale not seen since Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. But unlike the frontrunner of looter shooters as we know them, Warzone turns up the heat and refuses to rest on the bare fundamentals. It boasts a best-of collection of features that positions it to be the reigning king of looter shooters.
Guns are rock solid, and you can bring your battle-tested loadouts along as supply drops. On your first death, you have the opportunity to fight for your freedom in the Gulag — but afterward, your teammates can still call you back into the fight with a bit of cash. The map is massive and boasts diverse and interesting biomes. And the vehicles — sorry PUBG, but Warzone does vehicles better by a country mile. Maybe even better than Halo, hard as it is for my Halo loving heart to admit.
For now, this is the pinnacle — Warzone is as good as looter shooters get. Until some new developer comes along looking to innovate instead of simply imitate, Warzone is the best of the looter shooters. And it seems like it’s going to be the best for a while.