Best Xbox third-person shooters

Kes Eylers-Stephenson - March 1st 2019

The problem of how you define a third-person shooter caused quite a stir in the TA headquarters, let us tell you. Staff Writer Kes was up in arms about action adventures not being shooters, Senior Writer Sean told us the ins and outs of bad Gears of War achievements, and Editor Luke reminded every that he has played more games than we could dream of. The result was an all-out war as we wrangled some kind of list guidelines.

Here are the two ground rules we’ve tried to abide by. First, it has to be third-person (obviously) — we have a seperate list for the best first-person shooters on Xbox. Second, the shooting has to take clear precedent over every other gameplay focus. This means that you won’t find GTA V, Red Dead Redemption, or Tomb Raider on this list, as we think of both as action-adventure games that have shooting as a by-product. Also note: rules are stupid and we will probably break them because we hold the power here. With that done and dusted, here are the best third-person shooters on Xbox.

Gears of War 5

A best third-person shooters list wouldn’t be complete without a Gears game — a series that pushed the cover-based shooting mechanic into the mainstream. A case could be made for several Gears games here, but we’ve opted for Gears 5 because of its great character-driven campaign, fantastic combat, and outstanding visuals that really pop on the Xbox Series X|S. Following on from Gears of War 4, the story focuses on Kait Diaz, who finds out that she’s related to the Queen of the Locust Horde, Myrrah (oh no). You set out on a journey to find out more about Kait’s past and the origins of the Locust — it’s a compelling narrative that will keep you on edge, and it’s one that Gears fans and those not even au fait with the series will enjoy. This great story is backed up by excellent gameplay. The weapons all feel superb and weighty (nothing beats the Lancer with that chainsaw), and using them often results in blood and guts being strewn across the screen. One welcome addition with Gears 5’s gameplay is some of the new open-world elements that really moves the game away from being traditionally quite linear. Visually, the game is hard to beat on current-gen consoles. The Series X|S upgrade The Coalition rolled out for the game really brings Gears 5 into a league of its own in the looks department — it looks sharp, it plays at a buttery-smooth 60fps, and the HDR implementation is second to none. The multiplayer is a wicked time too, providing you can look past the insanely grindy Gears 5 achievements, with a variety of different co-op and PvP modes to choose from.
Gears 5

From one of gaming’s most acclaimed sagas, Gears 5’s celebrated campaign and refreshed multiplayer are fully optimized for Xbox Series X|S. With all-out war descending, Kait Diaz breaks away to uncover her connection to the enemy and discovers the true danger to Sera – herself.

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a true classic, but one that never had the limelight. 2K published the Yager game, giving it a horrible name in the process. The game presents as a traditional third-person military shooter to great effect because it uses every military trope to lure you in, seduces you — then throws you back out covered in desert sand with your emotions dried and withered. Captain Martin Walker leads his troops through the perfectly shaped linear levels that carve through Dubai. Along the way, you will fight through forlorn skyscrapers, over bombed-out highways, and in haunting marketplaces. The near post-apocalyptic Dubai is infested with terrorists whom you will be fighting using a punchy combat system that is very much of its time. The meat of the experience will be spent trying to untangle an anti-war narrative for the ages. Just be careful, the Spec Ops: The Line achievements require a gruelling run in Jager difficulty, which is no joke. This is at the top of our remake list, but the original has lost none of its mind-melting lustre.
Spec Ops: The Line

(Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB) It’s been 6 months since Dubai was wiped off the map by a cataclysmic sandstorm. Thousands of lives were lost, including those of American soldiers sent to evacuate the city. Today, the city lies buried under sand, the world’s most opulent ruin.

Dead Space 2

Here we go — is this a third-person horror, action-adventure, or shooter? Guess what? We don’t care because the shooting is splendid. That’s odd, because normally shooting in horror titles destroys ambience — just look at what an action focus did to Resident Evil 6 — but here it adds to the brain-melting scariness and even heightens it. Engineer Isaac Clarke is aboard a space station called The Sprawl that is now infested with necromorphs. These pale long-limbed creatures taunt your psyche with just how unnatural they are, let alone poor Isaac and his deteriorating mental state. It’s a good thing you have your trusty dismembering plasma cutter, your spinning-bladed ripper, trap-laying detonator, and a javelin gun, then. Through the eerie corridors of The Sprawl you will tramp, glorying in every tendril sliced off of a necromorph, every impalment you inflict, and every savagely bloody conclusion to a tense, dimly lit fight. It’s not just the weapons making every scenario click, it's the sound design, the extraordinary level and environment design, and the mechanical predictability of your shots that give Isaac’s actions such great results. Even more satisfying for some will be the 20-hour completion on the Dead Space 2achievements, which we have a comprehensive walkthrough for on-site. With incredible set pieces and tense encounters with other characters, Dead Space 2 is truly a must-play.
Dead Space™ 2

Engineer Isaac Clarke returns for another blood-curdling adventure in the sequel to the critically acclaimed Dead Space™. After waking from a coma on a massive space city known as “The Sprawl”, the lone survivor of a horrific alien infection finds himself confronting a catastrophic new nightmare. Battling dementia, hunted by the government, and haunted by visions of his dead girlfriend, Isaac will do whatever it takes to save himself and dominate the gruesome onslaught. With an arsenal of tools…

Control

Control is as trippy as… Woah dude, are you a crouton with anime eyes and little breadstick limbs? Excuse me, Remedy’s psychedelic third-person shooter has made me see some things. You start out as Jesse Faden, a young woman looking for her brother at the Federal Bureau of Control. This brutalist building has secrets, which it has hidden by morphing into a different entity entirely as it comes under the malign influence of the hiss. It’s a bit like Hogwarts, but straight out of 1970s New York and way less chipper. Layered into it is a magnificent ambience is a crafty story about a variety of deep, psychologically-rich topics. The gravity of this game is so strong, it makes exploring the world for 30 hours to get all the Control achievements an absolute breeze. While everything around the actual central gameplay tenant of shooting could deceive you into thinking this is an adventure first and foremost — we don’t think it is. The weapon is a constantly changing service gun that shifts between archetypes: shotgun, revolver, and so on. As it turns out Jesse is a legend and can also use telekinesis to throw stuff at the enemy. The range of powers and guns is absolutely fab and the combat scenarios leave you craving more fighting to such a degree that we think it is one of the best third-person shooters on Xbox.

Control Ultimate Edition - Xbox Series X|S

A corruptive presence has invaded the Federal Bureau of Control…
Only you have the power to stop it. The world is now your weapon
in an epic fight to annihilate an ominous enemy through deep and
unpredictable environments. Containment has failed, humanity is
at stake. Will you regain control?

Sniper Elite 4

Sometimes, you just want to shoot the testicles off of a Hitler. Obviously, you need to be well-prepped if you are going to do this thing. You will have to stealth your way across a sandbox killing other nazis by stabbing them in the throat, or — god forbid — shooting them with a weapon other than your sniper. You will figure out a few environmental traps for guard kills and blow up a few tanks, radar dishes, and other miscellaneous stuff along the way. Maybe you opt for a nice and menial side task to do on the way to keep up with the Sniper Elite 4 achievements. Sometimes, you can bring a friend along for some mischief, but much of the time you will want to spend alone with just you and your rifle, thinking about the organic bells that you wish to toll on a certain dictator. The last stage of the journey is to sit in a bush, measure the wind, muzzle velocity, and breathing patterns before unleashing your bullet into a cut-scene that satisfyingly captures the moments your bullet finally strikes the gong in full X-ray vision. Ding dong, down with the… Jesus, that is gruesome.
Sniper Elite 4

Discover unrivalled sniping freedom in the largest and most advanced World War 2 shooter ever built. Experience tactical third-person combat, gameplay choice and epic longshots across gigantic levels as you liberate wartime Italy from the grip of Fascism. Sniper Elite 4 includes an expansive campaign for 1-2 players, dedicated co-op modes for 2-4 players and gripping competitive multiplayer for up to 12.

Vanquish

Vanquish

The hit sci-fi shooter returns. An overpopulated Earth suffocating under limited resources looks to Providence, the solar-powered space colony for support. When Providence is suddenly taken over by a mutinous group and its technology used to devastate cities, it’s up to a specially trained unit of space marines to reclaim the colony.

The Division 2

Tom Clancy's The Division® 2

Join The Division, an elite group of civilian agents, and save a country on the brink of collapse as you explore an open, dynamic, and hostile world in Washington, D.C.

Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive is raw fun. Insomniac Games parted ways with Sony for a brief spell and made this stylish masterclass of game feel. A bright and zealously over the top open world takes centre stage, as you wall-run, grind, and climb through a city under siege by Creatures called OD. With its colour pastel aesthetic, it would be easy to think Sunset Overdrive is a game for kids. Instead, it is full of swear words and guns shaped like a John Thompson called the Overcompensator. It loves being a video game, having you blast bad guys and collect things across a city while being totally ready to make fun of its own limitations. It’s stupid, it’s immature, it's simple — but that is okay, this game knows it and flaunts it. On occasion, it does become a bit linear and the controls can be one button away from making your hand into a ball of spaghetti, but it mostly overcomes these issues with succinct traversal and interesting gambits. It’s a 40-60 hour completion on those Sunset Overdrive achievements, but worry not because we have a wonderful walkthrough on site. So, we would recommend you give this a go, especially given that it really buoyed those early Xbox One-era days!
Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive transforms an open-world apocalypse into your tactical playground. Zip, grind and wall-run across Sunset City while using a devastating, unconventional arsenal. With hyper-agility, unique weapons, and customizable special abilities, Sunset Overdrive rewrites the rules of traditional shooters and delivers an explosive and irreverent adventure in the end times.

Remnant: From the Ashes

We never hear anyone talk about Remnant: From the Ashes that doesn’t love it. The third-person shooter is set in a strange land that is under siege by odd monsters and gnarly bosses. Each level is procedurally generated and plays host to a tricky battle for a piece of loot. The combat here is truly the showstopper, with mid-to-long range guns feeling like a dream to control. It uses soulslike elements to keep you hooked on difficult arenas while supplementing your combat experience with a good melee and a gratifying quality of meaningful weapon modifications. You can team up with friends or take the game on solo, but either way, you are getting a blast of a time. That’s not to say there aren’t problems. Loot can be somewhat sparse for those used to instant gratification, there is some awful signposting, and there are some really unnerving difficulty spikes. Quite a few people have mentioned that the Remnant: From the Ashes achievements will be heavily based on replaying the game, so be wary of that if hunting for the 1000g. Other than that, though, this is a superb third-person shooter and one of the purest examples of the genre on the list.
Remnant: From the Ashes

The world has been thrown into chaos by an ancient evil from another dimension. As one of the last remnants of humanity, you must set out alone or alongside up to two other survivors to face down hordes of deadly enemies to try to carve a foothold, rebuild, and retake what was lost.

Just Cause 4

Just Cause 4 is more Just Cause without that much innovation. That’s not a bad thing — we have loved the series since the second entry for its ridiculous gun-toting indifference to difficulty, stupid explosions, and amusing physics. Rico returns to take down another dictatorship on a Latin-American island by wingsuiting through the skies and grappling to anything and everything that he can. The story is fine, the driving mechanics fine, the world is basically just a playground: but the third-person shooting and action is just unbridled fantastic fun. The inclusion of weather that will interact with the bases you will be tearing through is total mania, especially when combined with all the other grappling, shooting, parachuting fun you will be playing with. It bends our rules a bit to get on the list, but we think that this places the guns to the fore just enough that we are throwing it in. It is worth noting that there has been a visual downgrade from the third entry to this one, but that has amped up the performance big-time — but it does make us really crave an even crazier Xbox Series X|S-only entry. The Just Cause 4 achievements are a 50-60 hour hunt with a lot of comically lazy requirements, but let’s be honest: you’ll be too busy riding the top of a jumbo jet into a rolling gas tank ripped from the ground by a tornado that then landed on a collapsing bridge; the wreckage of which has now unfortunately fallen on a poor roaming goat.
Just Cause 4 - Complete Edition

Unlock the true potential of Just Cause 4 with the Complete Edition!
Strap into your wingsuit, equip your fully customizable grappling hook, and get ready to bring the thunder!

Just Cause 4 Complete Edition includes:
- Just Cause 4
- Black Market Bundle (Access to all Black Market/Premium Content)
- Dare Devils of Destruction Expansion
- Los Demonios Expansion
- Danger Rising Expansion
- Skystriker Weaponized Wingsuit
- Black Hand Stealth Micro Jet

That's our list! Have you got any suggestions? Let us know in the comments as well as what your personal favourites are. Don't forget, we also have a best first-person shooters on Xbox list if you prefer your battles more up close and personal.