First-person shooters are a tough genre to get into if someone has never played them before. Mastering moving and aiming simultaneously can be a lot to take in. Shooters have since expanded this concept with tons of new mechanics while improving the feedback weapons give.

For many FPS fanatics, the genre might appear stale with how many games have copied Halo or Call of Duty. It is certainly a problem, but there are plenty of challenging FPS titles that will give the most experienced gamers a challenge.


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These excellent first-person shooters all have enjoyable online modes.

From competitive multiplayer games to one-life single-player campaigns, many of the hardest FPS games encompass a wealth of gameplay loops in addition to the shooting action that most players expect from their titles. These titles can be pretty challenging and cause players to tear their hair out at times, but players who manage to learn these games and how they work will manage to overcome these tough titles without getting too frustrated in the process.

Updated on April 6, 2024, by Ritwik Mitra: First-person shooters are a blast to play through, quite literally at times. These games allow players to show off their skills as they take out both human and AI opponents with precise aim. While many FPS titles have become more inclusive than ever before, there are times when some games up the challenge to test a player as much as possible. While most competitive multiplayer shooters are as tough as they come, there are some single-player first-person shooters that can be pretty difficult and force players to be strategic and pick their shots wisely to get past every level by the skin of their teeth.

32 Fistful Of Frags

A Western Half-Life 2 Mod With Old-School FPS Gameplay

A wild west town that includes a hotel and bank while individuals holding guns surround the town in Fistful of Frags

Fistful of Frags
May 9, 2014

Fistful of Frags Team

A standalone game that started out as a Half-Life 2 mod, Fistful of Frags serves as an homage to Western movies of the past, letting players take on the role of cowboys shooting each other to bits. The game is pretty whimsical and worth checking out for any fan of unique fan-made games that feel like complete and unique experiences.

The way players heal in this game is a great example of how the title strives to be tough and innovative at the same time. Players drink booze to heal, causing their aim and vision to sway. This makes healing a strategic decision that players must make outside of a firefight so that they don’t end up woozy and disoriented in the face of enemy fire.

31 Project I.G.I.

A Tactical Shooter Where Jumping Into The Fray Can End Things Really Quickly

Project I.G.I.

  • Released: December 8, 2000
  • Developer: Innerloop Studios
  • Platforms: PC

Tactical shooters are some of the easier picks for FPS titles that promote difficulty above all. Project I.G.I. is not a game for the faint of heart, with every objective being a heart-stopping affair where a single mistake can have dire consequences for the player if they attract too much enemy attention.

This makes it important to sneak in the shadows, employ a tactical approach, and try to attract as little attention as possible. The game’s AI may not be its strongest point, but players who don’t mind checking out an old-school shooter that’s pretty challenging will find Project I.G.I. to be right up their alley.

30 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

A Combination Of FPS Gameplay, Survival Horror, And RPG Elements That’s Pretty Challenging

Stalker Clear Sky

  • Released: August 29, 2008
  • Developer: GSC Game World
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series features some of the toughest open-world first-person shooters ever made, forcing people to manage their resources at all times and not get too overzealous in combat. All the games in this series boast a substantial level of challenge, and Clear Sky is no exception here.


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Customizing equipment and engaging in faction wars are a few of the many things people will engage with regularly in this game. The learning curve is immense, but players who give this game a shot will find each and every victory to be an accomplishment after their initial struggles.

29 Crysis

All-Out Battles Without The Use Of Stealth Can Be Pretty Challenging, Even On Normal Difficulty

Crysis 1 scoping The Jungle

For the most part, Crysis can be a fairly tough experience but not a frustrating one for many players as long as they use the capabilities of the suit. However, the difficulty of this game skyrockets if players opt for the highest level of challenge possible.

Enemies in Crysis become more aggressive and smart while trying to shoot the player into smithereens, which will happen quite often. A player’s reflexes need to be perfect if they wish to get through Crysis‘ massive levels with such elite opposition.

28 Titanfall 2

Lack Of Reflexes Will Lead To Many Deaths

battle in Titanfall 2

Titanfall 2
October 28, 2016

Titanfall 2 is a game that was unfairly overlooked upon release. The game featured many improvements to the core gameplay along with one of the best single-player campaigns in an FPS to date.

The end result is an amazing experience that becomes quite challenging in multiplayer. Players will have to make the most of the extended movement suite and the game’s wide array of firearms to overpower their opposition.

27 Apex Legends

Heroes Take A While To Master Before Players Get Into The Flow Of The Game

Apex Legends Glitch Allows Players to Hide Inside Supply Bins

Apex Legends
February 4, 2019

While Titanfall 2 might not have sold like hotcakes, the same can’t be said for Apex Legends. Technically, the game is free-to-play, but the massive player base makes it clear that Respawn struck gold with this title.



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Time to shoot ’em up… these games are the best of the best when it comes to FPS options.

Apex Legends is an FPS hero shooter where players will take some time to learn the mechanics of the various characters they can control in the game. The balanced experience provided by this game, coupled with its deep systems, makes for a scintillating FPS experience where players need to be attuned to the game and its mechanics if they wish to come out victorious.

26 Blood: Fresh Supply

Personifies The Difficulty That Pervaded Most Retro Shooters

Blood: Fresh Supply

Blood was one of the many Doom clones during the golden age of PC gaming. It approached this genre with a pretty unique setting, with the supernatural elements of the game allowing for unique weapons and enemies that made it quite different from DOOM in its way.

The remaster of this game retained the great aesthetics and challenging difficulty of this title. Blood: Fresh Supply is by no means an easy title, but people who love the atmosphere and humor of this title will have many excuses to power through this nostalgic gem of a game.


Demons Don’t Stop Inflicting Pain Every Step Of The Way

Doom 2016 Doom Slayer

The reboot of DOOM was a source of great happiness among fans. However, these gamers were also rather skeptical about how id Software would be able to make the formula of DOOM work in a modern gaming environment.

Thankfully, the developers managed to strike a perfect balance between classic FPS gameplay and modern gaming nuances. This made for a rich first-person shooting experience that was tough as nails as well. It’s easy to see why most people can’t get enough of DOOM nowadays.

24 F.E.A.R

Challenging AI Coupled With An Oppressive Atmosphere

Enemies shooting at the player, a dead body is on the floor and glass is flying

October 18, 2005

Monolith Productions

When it came out, most people considered F.E.A.R. to be one of the hardest FPS games ever made. This was mainly achieved through a combination of unforgiving gameplay and smart enemy AI that could flank and surprise the player at every step.


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Of course, one has to admit that the constant fear of Alma and the other horrors present in F.E.A.R also contributed to the overall difficulty. After all, it would be hard for players to focus on the game’s shooting when they’re too busy trying to avoid any scares in the game.

Timing Shots To The Rhythm Of The Beat Amidst All The Chaos Is Easier Said Than Done

Shooting at a giant demon with large horns and wings in Metal: Hellsinger

Metal: Hellsinger
September 15, 2022

The Outsiders

The idea of combining rhythm games with gunslinging action is something that only indie games could’ve thought of. One of the many titles in this hybrid genre that force players to adhere to the beat and wreak havoc is Metal: Hellsinger.

The soundtrack of this game is incredible, with the Doom-esque vibes of this title being pretty entertaining in their own right. Players will have a great time as they blast through the stages of this title and slowly become more adept, taking on waves of foes who can severely punish the player if they miss the beat too many times.

22 Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

Non-stop Action And A Health Handicap Near The Start Of The Game

Switch Wolfenstein II New Colossus Market Chaos

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
October 27, 2017

MachineGames is a name that most fans of the Wolfenstein series would be familiar with. After all, this company is responsible for ushering in the modern era of Wolfenstein. This game is full to the brim with excellent combat and a story of immense quality. Most players were surprised to see a story of this caliber in Wolfenstein.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is easily the hardest game out of all the titles in the series. The initial handicap that BJ suffers in terms of a low heath pool is detrimental enough as is. Furthermore, the game never lets up with its fair share of massive challenges that will keep the player occupied for quite some time.

21 Valorant

Twitch Reflexes That Need To Be Combined With The Knowledge Of Agent Abilities

a robot facing off against a enemy

Most people describe Valorant as a mix of Counter-Strike and Overwatch. While this might be an accurate description of the title, such a simple explanation doesn’t do justice to the excellent gameplay of Valorant.


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Valorant is a game with a steep learning curve, and it can be difficult for new players to pick an agent immediately.

Each competitive match in this title becomes a struggle to tactically manage encounters while simultaneously making the most of each agent’s abilities. It’s easy to see why most gamers consider Valorant to be one of the hardest FPS games currently around.

20 Bulletstorm

Combining Stylish Kills With Health Management Is Challenging But Stylish

bulletstorm combat

February 22, 2011

At a glance, Bulletstorm might sound like an odd pick for this list. After all, the game prides itself on giving players cannon fodder to work with as they rack up a bunch of stylish kills.

However, higher difficulty and the challenge of chaining multiple special kills can be quite difficult for many gamers. Most players need to ensure that they don’t get so carried away in showing off their style that they end up receiving a completely avoidable death blow.

19 Devil Daggers

Demands Mastery Of Simple Gameplay Systems

Devil Daggers

Devil Daggers
February 18, 2016


Devil Daggers is incredibly difficult due to its simplicity. Players only have to worry about the enemies around them and take them down by firing a flurry of daggers at them.

Playing Devil Daggers looks much easier than it truly is. The whole point is to achieve as high a score as possible before death. Games get more hectic as the timer continues, eventually overwhelming the players with hundreds of enemies on screen. Speed, accuracy, and critical thinking are all required to survive the ever-increasing onslaught of demons.

18 Deus Ex

Reliance On RPG Systems And Scarce Resources

Deus Ex

Deus Ex
June 23, 2000

Ion Storm

The original Deus Ex was a marvel of imaginative cyberpunk storytelling and some elite RPG elements married to an FPS framework. It was also hard due to its reliance on tactics instead of running and gunning. Indeed, soldiering in was not a viable option.


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Deus Ex is also difficult for many other reasons, most notably its overabundance of skills. Players had to understand how their skill points would affect the gameplay, which meant determining their preferred playstyle from the outset. To make matters worse, resources are scarce in Deus Ex to encourage players to thoroughly explore every level. Expertly crafted levels and a plethora of choices make Deus Ex the PC classic fans know it for. It just so happens that a byproduct of this was a rather unforgiving combat system.

17 Prey

A Brutal Early-Game And Challenging Immersive Sim Elements

The player in Prey - Craziest Alternate History In Games

Immersive Sims masterfully blend player choice into their core gameplay rhythm, typically utilizing complex levels and tough enemies to encourage players to explore. As was the case in Deus Ex, the 2017 reboot of Prey is a brutal experience for newcomers to this style of game.

Prey fans likely remember their first playthrough as sluggish and painful in the opening hours. Morgan Yu, the game’s protagonist, is incredibly weak in the opening hours. Until players get their hands on a few Neuromods, taking on even Prey’s weakest enemies is quite the ordeal. Scavenging for supplies and sticking to the shadows is key to survival. For those who are used to immersive sims, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. However, those new to the genre were in for a tough time.

16 Ultrakill

Fast-Paced Gameplay With A Lot Of Opportunity To Make Mistakes

Ultrakill Door Opening To The Sawblade Launcher

September 3, 2020

Arsi “Hakita” Patala

Retro FPS games have become all the rage in modern times, and players love the idea of bombarding enemies with a wealth of enemies and watching them eat dirt in these games where hyper-violence is the norm. There’s something oddly cathartic about games where moving fast and taking out enemies quickly is critical to victory, and Ultrakill understands this perfectly.

The game is hailed by many as one of the very best games in the modern retro FPS boom that has taken over the indie community. Players are encouraged to build up a style meter by racking up as many amazing kills as possible, which can make for a satisfying experience. However, survival should be a priority in this game, with a single mistake leading to dire consequences for the player.

15 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 (Terrorist Hunt)

Terrorist Hunt On Realistic Difficulty Has Brutal AI

Rainbow Six Vegas 2

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2

Cooperative game modes can’t get much harder than Rainbow Six: Vegas 2’s Terrorist Hunt mode. This game’s PvE activities were borderline masochistic with the way AI was handled.

Harder difficulties would cause enemies to have perfect accuracy and use tactical equipment much more often. Worse, the player’s friendly AI was detrimental to the experience as they would sometimes refuse to listen to orders. While easier in co-op with real players, this game’s learning curve and instant deaths on higher difficulties tested the patience of most gamers.

14 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. — Shadow Of Chernobyl

Unforgiving Mechanics Where A Single Misstep Is Deadly

FPS Hard Games - Stalker

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games are renowned for their punishing gameplay, especially when gamers first start. The wasteland is a dangerous one with horrors just waiting to pop out from the cover of darkness and kill. As such, it’s difficult for many gamers to get their bearings.


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Naturally, a combination of practice and character progression helps mitigate many of these issues, but that doesn’t make the game any less forgiving. Hazards and horrors lurk around every corner, and run-and-gun techniques simply aren’t going to cut it as they would in a game like Call of Duty.

13 Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

Brutal Combat Encounters

Serious Sam The Second Encounter

Serious Sam Collection
November 17, 2020


Serious difficulty in the Serious Sam games is the ultimate challenge. Enemies have much more health, while Sam is much more susceptible to damage. Every Serious Sam game is challenging on this difficulty, but none are harder to beat than Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.

Croteam dramatically increased the number of enemies in each encounter in this installment. Levels are much larger, the weapon roster has expanded in smart ways, and the enemy roster is highly varied. These major improvements in most difficulties become a burden on higher difficulties where making two mistakes can be disastrous. It gets worse when the game decides to place the player in a small room filled with hundreds of enemies.


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