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The end of 2021 is a busy time for the first-person shooter, with Battlefield 2042, Halo Infinite, and Call of Duty: Vanguard all dropping within a few weeks of each other. Add in the Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific update and the new Apex Legends: Escape update and you’ve got a holiday season that’s filled to the brim with FPS options. So how do you decide which game (or games) to spend your hard-earned money and priceless free time on?
Well, that’s what I’m here for. As GamesRadar’s resident shooter expert, I can walk you through exactly what to expect from the long-awaited Halo sequel, the grandiose Battlefield title, and Activision’s next Call of Duty game. Are you like me and completely enamored by shiny skins you can almost never see? Or are you the kind of player who wants your FPS to have rock-solid gunplay and customizable matches? Do you want realism in your warfare, or prefer some flight of fancy with your firefight?
Whatever type of player you are, there’s something coming out in the next few weeks that will scratch your shooter itch, I promise. Let’s see which of the big upcoming 2021 FPS games are right for you. It’s like a horoscope, but better.
Call of Duty: Vanguard
Release Date: November 5, 2021
Who’s it for: WW2 fanatics, realism hunters, COD collectors
Call of Duty: Vanguard is promising the series’ most realistic take on WW2 yet, so if you’re a fan of historical accuracy (aside from the red dot sights), then Sledgehammer Games’ latest may be the shooter for you. Call of Duty: Vanguard will likely seem very different for players coming over from Black Ops Cold War multiplayer and Warzone, with a heavier overall feel and slightly more difficult-to-shoot weapons. I noticed during my Call of Duty: Vanguard multiplayer hands-on that this gun meta feels harder to handle, especially with starting weapons like the STG44 and M1928, which have pretty significant recoil. Prepare to spend a lot of time leveling up your favorite weapons and getting them outfitted with attachments, if you want to survive Vanguard’s multiplayer.
Of course, you’ll get a single-player campaign that will offer a new take on the Call of Duty franchise: you’ll step into the boots of the original Special Forces, swapping between four soldiers and their stories scattered across the major WW2 fronts: North Africa, Pacific, Eastern Front, and Europe.
Release Date: November 19, 2021
Who’s it for: Gadget gamers, spectacle stans, Twister aficionados
If you love Battlefield games but always thought “why can’t this be bigger”, then Battlefield 2042 is the right game for you. The sheer scale of Battlefield 2042 will wow even the most veteran Battlefield players, with environmental dangers like tornadoes and sandstorms threatening to take you out if the hundred or so enemies don’t get to you first. Expect to be floored by the feeling of a fighter jet roaring just overhead while you sprint between POI, or to be blinded by an exploding rocket ship that disrupts your aim – just as you’re about to pull the trigger of your sniper rifle.
With its support for 128-player firefights, and its introduction of the largest maps and suite of modes in Battlefield history, Battlefield 2042 feels suitably scaled for the current gaming climate. If you’re looking for massive, chaotic multiplayer action, Battlefield 2042 will provide all of that and more. Also, there are robot dogs.
Release Date: December 8, 2021
Who’s it for: Master Chief fan people, chaos connoisseurs, amateur map builders
Halo Infinite is somewhat of an outlier on this list, as it offers a nuanced FPS experience that won’t feel anything like a Call of Duty title or a Battlefield game. Halo Infinite taps into the incredible gunplay and overall mechanics of 2007’s Halo 3 and modernizes it for the new generation of gaming. If you like watching a seven-foot-tall supersoldier ragdoll through the air after you grappling hooked onto their alien plane and booted them out of it, Halo Infinite is the game for you. If the concept of throwing a neon blue grenade at a gigantic hammer floating on a pedestal across a chasm so the grenade’s explosion will jettison that hammer into your armored hands excites you, then get Halo Infinite on day one.
Expect fast firefights that will have you giggling in disbelief at post-death screens and chaotic matches that you can’t help but enjoy, even if you’re getting your ass kicked. And in a few months when Forge comes out, all the amateur map designers can build the most twisted and ridiculous maps to keep multiplayer feeling fresh and fun. Halo Infinite will have legs, trust me.
Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific
Release Date: December 3, 2021
Who’s it for: Everyone who is sick of Verdansk
Call of Duty: Warzone is finally saying goodbye to Verdansk, so if you’re looking to jump back into the battle royale, early December is the time to do it. The Warzone Pacific map is called Caldera, and it’s debuting a month after Call of Duty: Vanguard’s release. Then it will yeet Verdansk into the ocean where it belongs and offer us lush jungles, rocky cliffs, and industrial buildings scattered around a large island. We don’t have many details on what Caldera will hold, but any sort of change is a welcome one here. A November 24 “Secrets of the Pacific” limited-time event will give us more detail on Caldera and its POIs, so stay tuned.
Verdansk has been feeling stale for months and no amount of weapon balancing and Halloween-themed events can change that,. Thankfully, the Pacific update is promising to upend the meta as Vanguard weapons and vehicles enter the fray, along with new Operators and skins. So if you gave up Warzone because you felt consistently wronged by it, I can promise you that it is going to change – and for good this time.
Apex Legends: Escape
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Who’s it for: Lapsed Apex players, aggressive attackers, robosexuals
Apex Legends is always changing, but Apex Legends: Escape is Respawn completely flipping the script. A new map called Storm Point will offer 15% more space than the game’s largest map, World’s Edge, and environmental hazards will threaten to down you at every turn. Respawn has also removed most of the redeploy balloons, replacing them with gravity cannons that can shoot you to a predetermined location – but unlike the redeploy balloons, you can rain down a hail of bullets or huck grenades while traveling through the cannon. If all of this sounds aggressive, that’s because it is – my Apex Legends: Escape hands-on preview felt like the fastest the game has been yet.
Add in the new legend Ash, a simulacrum that’s all about aggressive gameplay, and you’ve got a season made for the solo queue-ers and Revenant mains. Ash is all about thinking fast and shooting well, so accurate players with a penchant for running once more unto the breach will absolutely love Apex Legends: Escape. And if you’ve fallen off the Apex wagon, this next season will bring you right back in again.
Where will these fall on the best FPS games you can play right now?