If you play a good action game, you have to be able to fight well. When it comes to the best action games today, they can come in many different shapes and sizes. You can look over the shoulder of the main character and see what they’re doing, stare down the barrel of whatever weapon they have, or lead them through dangerous open worlds. It can be hard to figure out which experiences are worth your time, especially when there are so many new releases competing for a spot on lists like these one after the other.
This is how we came up with our list of the best action games: We tried to pick out games that are still fun to play today. If you’re willing to go back a few console generations or dig through the nostalgic sections on Steam, you can find some great games. GamesRadar+, on the other hand, wants to focus on the games you should play today. There are a lot of action games you can play right now, so let’s start with that.
1. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
People are very likely to get only one more Metal Gear Solid game after Kojima Productions goes out of business. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is likely to be the last one. It’s the pinnacle of stealth action. It takes the rhythms that the Metal Gear Solid series was built on and spreads them out over a truly dynamic open world. To play, you’re given space and freedom to play against a web of interconnected systems, which makes it feel like your best plans for spies and infiltrators are always being thwarted. People don’t like the Phantom Pain because it’s weird and unique.
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight is one hell of a send-off for Rocksteady’s Batman trilogy, and it’s a good one. The developer has to walk a tightrope here. He fights hard in huge open world areas, but he also makes sure Bruce Wayne can show off his love of the dark. In the end, you’ll have the best Batman experience ever, one that will let you truly play the role of Gotham’s protector. You drive around that combo-counter and keep an eye on big groups of goons, pushing your fist and steel-capped boots through wave after wave of nameless thugs and famous villains in an effort to clean up the streets.
3. Resident Evil 2
A lot of people think that Capcom is the best at making new games. 2002’s Resident Evil was a great trip back to the Spencer Mansion, but Resident Evil 2’s return to Racoon City in Resident Evil 2 makes this list of the best action games. Beautiful environments, haunting sound design, and heavy third-person combat make this game one of the best ever made. Bullets cut through infected flesh in a way that makes you feel powerful, but your ammo runs out and you become more vulnerable. There are a lot of action games on this list, but Resident Evil 2 is one of the slower-paced ones. It’s still a great game from start to finish.
4. Doom Eternal
Doom Eternal’s hyper-active, hyper-violent combat is built on the idea that you can rip, tear, and shred your way to victory. Then, it’s even better. Doom Eternal is so good at being an action game because it understands that forward momentum is important. It always moves you closer to enemies so that you can slash them. It makes you fight to get back your health and ammunition, and the more you fight, the longer you can last through waves of huge demons that come from all directions. It’s a powerful system that turns Doom’s quickening rhythms into a blood-soaked magic that can be used to kill people.
5. Rise of the Tomb Raider
As long as you enjoy the whole new Lara Croft trilogy, Rise of the Tomb Raider is the one that’s the most exciting. It captures this sense of being alone and uses it to drive us on a wonderful, long adventure that’s full of action and suspense. Even though Crystal Dynamics learned a lot from the Uncharted games, there’s a lot more emphasis on survival in Rise of the Tomb Raider than there was in Nathan Drake’s adventures. This gives the game a unique rhythm. Check out, fight, and stay alive with one of gaming’s best heroes in Rise of the Tomb Raider. This game is one of the best action games from the last generation.
6. Middle-earth: Shadow of War
If you’re tired of open-world action games, you might want to give Middle-earth: Shadow of War a try. For people who like Assassin’s Creed or Batman: Arkham, Monolith Productions makes combat and exploration that are similar to those games. But Shadow of War has a unique system called Nemesis that allows it to stand out from other games like that. Rivalries start up with almost every Uruk you meet, making it feel like the world is always reacting to you and trying to stop you from moving forward. It’s a great way to spice up your journey to make a new Ring of Power.
7. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Valhalla is not only one of the best open-world games, but it’s one of the best action games as well. Assassin’s Creed has been in action-RPG territory for a few years now, and Valhalla is the best example yet of why this was a good move. It makes good use of the changes made to combat in Origins and Odyssey as it pushes you across England in the Dark Ages. Your weapons and armour are all you need to take over the land and fight off armies of enemies. You can also fight a variety of mythical beasts head-on. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the best game about being a viking, and its combat shows that.
8. Monster Hunter World
As far as action games go, Monster Hunter World is the best one out there. It can keep you playing for months at a time. It’s easy to see why this game is so popular. You can go to beautiful, sprawling open areas alone or with friends, track screen-dwarfing beasts, prepare for battle, and then use comically oversized weapons to kill down in combat. Once the monster is dead, use its bones and scales to make even more absurd swords, hammers, and axes. People who play Monster Hunter World will have to learn a lot of new things, but if they put in the time, they’ll find a complex and addictive action game like no other.
9. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
Because Max Payne can jump on his sides over and over again without hurting his shoulders or jabbing the house keys in his pocket into his thigh, you might think his superpower is being able to move in slow-motion. In any case, when these moves are put together, Max Payne is a great game to play. You’ll jump around corners, slow down as you soar through the air, and fire akimbo pistols at mobster after mobster on the rain-soaked streets of New York as you try to get them all.
When you played the first Max Payne, you could do these things. Today, we’d like you to play Max Payne 2. The first game looks old and has a lot of bad platforming sequences that aren’t fun to play. The second game looks good, is a short six hours of jumping and shooting, and has the same dark humour and purple prose. Also, there was a new technological wonder added between the first game in 2001 and this one in 2003: physics. In the movies, John Woo used cardboard boxes and old buckets to send bullets flying all over the place. It’s not a new thing anymore.
10. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
When Assassin’s Creed: Oranges came out, everyone felt like they had a new lease on life again. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey tells the story of one lone mercenary having fun in Ancient Greece. Ubisoft took the new template and made it even better.
When you can sail a boat across the Aegean, meet the minotaur, kill the minotaur, and then go to Olympia for lunch, who cares about the ongoing AC lore? In Odyssey, the world is very big. Ubisoft was able to make an entire country. If you’re not a Classics fan, you won’t be able to get over the chryselephantine statue of Zeus or the huge Athena looking down on Athens from the acropolis.
Importantly, Odyssey continued the trend of harder combat, more important gear, and stealth being your best option. This makes the game feel less like “busy work” and more like a real challenge, which makes it more fun. Finally, Kassandra, the female player character who plays the game, is the best thing to happen in games in real time.