Half-Life is an FPS that Valve Corporation made in 1998. It became an instant sensation, thanks not only to its single-player campaign but also to its exciting and highly competitive multiplayer mode.
After the release of Half-Life, numerous companies attempted to recreate the same magic with varying degrees of success. And some of them developed Half-Life mods that ended up becoming even larger than the game itself. One of them was Counter-Strike.
If you enjoyed playing the Half-Life series, you’ll be happy to find out that a lot of other great games exist that are similar to it. Some are highly regarded for their single-player campaigns, others for their multiplayer, and some for both.
Here are 11 games like Half-Life that you should try.
1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, also known as CS:GO, is one of the most popular titles in the Counter-Strike series. The game came out in August 2012 but the series itself is more than two decades old.
Since its release, CS:GO has become one of the most successful eSports in the world. Its player base is over 10 million and the game’s community is active both on the servers and on the Twitch channels.
CS:GO has a 5 versus 5 format. There are around a dozen different maps that you can play on but the goal is always the same.
If you’re part of the Terrorists, you need to eliminate the enemy team or plant the bomb and make sure it explodes. If you’re part of the Counter-Terrorists, the goal is to either eliminate the Terrorist team or prevent it from blowing up one of the two bomb locations, called A and B.
CS:GO rounds last for around 2 minutes, so the action is fast-paced. When you win a round, you earn more money than when you lose. In turn, this allows you to buy better weapons and equipment.
By default, the game offers you a knife and a pistol. But there’s a lot more that you can buy if you can afford it, like rifles and grenades.
CS:GO is a highly tactical shooter and high-quality equipment is vital to winning a round. Competitive matches last for around 25 – 60 minutes. You can play a short match (best-of-16) or a long match (best-of-30).
2. Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege is a hyper-realistic FPS with a multiplayer mode that has captivated millions. The game came out in 2015 but the series started in 1998. This is another one of those games that has had lots of time to develop and flourish, and it really shows.
R6 Siege uses a team versus team format with 5 players on each side. One of the teams is on the offensive while the other one needs to defend.
What makes this game captivating is how realistic it is. For example, a lot of the fighting takes place in building rooms and you can actually make holes in the walls. The destructible floors and walls allow you to then shoot enemies through the cracks, which is not something you usually see in FPS games.
R6 Siege gives you the feeling that you’re actually there, fighting against real people. You can blow up doors or barricade them. And the whole process of attacking and defending offers countless tactical possibilities, which makes every round different.
High-level plays are very frequent in this game and the better you understand it, the more you appreciate the brilliance of the players. And when you compete yourself, you try to use clever tactics that can give you an edge.
In most shooters, your ability to aim is everything and you only need to pay attention to a small number of things. But in R6 Siege, even a small hole in a wall can make the difference between winning and losing. If you’re looking for games like Half-Life with heaps of replay value, this is the game for you.
3. Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 dates back to 2007 and it’s entirely free to play. This game brought spectacular innovations to the FPS genre and inspired a lot of other developers to create similar titles.
One of the things that TF2 came up with was goal-oriented maps. In CS:GO for instance, the objective is always the same: protect the two bomb sites if you’re a Counter-Terrorist or plant the bomb and guard it until it explodes if you’re a Terrorist.
In TF2, there are multiple game modes and each of them requires you to master a different way of playing.
In Payload for example, you need to escort a cart full of explosives before the time runs out. One team tries to accomplish this while the other needs to prevent it from succeeding. Otherwise, their base blows up and they lose the map.
But other game modes are completely different. And there are around a dozen of them in total, including Capture the Flag, Control Point, Player Destruction, Medieval Mode, and more.
Another thing that TF2 came up with was having different playable classes.
Instead of using generic agents, this game features 9 classes that are entirely unique. Each class has different weapons and stats, such as health points and movement speed.
Some classes such as the Scout, are extremely fast and hard to shoot. While others, such as Heavy, have a lot of HP, being slow but harder to kill.
Overwatch took a lot from Team Fortress 2 but also added extra things on top of it. This game came from Blizzard Entertainment in 2016. Since then, tens of millions have played it and many of them still play it to this day.
Overwatch revolves around two things: heroes with unique abilities and maps built around specific objectives. There are assault maps, control maps, escort maps, and hybrid maps. You can also play Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Elimination, but these modes are not available in competitive games.
Overwatch heroes are interesting and offer a wide variety of playstyles. There are more than 30 of them in total and each of them has a unique set of abilities and weapons that you’ll need to master.
The game also uses a 6 versus 6 format and offers a unique class system that helps it stand out from other games like Half-Life. In a similar vein to MOBA games, Overwatch has specific roles that players can pick from.
In this FPS, heroes can play Offense, Defense, Support, or Tank. Depending on the character you pick, some of these roles will be more appropriate than others. You cannot win a match on your own. Instead, you need to focus on synergizing with the rest of your team.
Riot Games made Valorant in 2020. In developing the game, Riot had ample time to analyze what worked in games like CS:GO and Overwatch, and then they simply came up with a formula of their own. It feels a lot like Overwatch played on CS:GO maps and in a CS:GO style.
Valorant is another FPS game that revolves around heroes. There are heaps of interesting characters to try, which can be quite overwhelming for new players to learn about.
However, the game does not abandon the idea of buying weapons with in-game money. So the customization of the agents you pick comes from two directions: their inherent abilities and the weapons you buy at the beginning of each round.
Riot Games took important elements from MOBA games. And it’s no surprise, since they are the creators of one of the most famous MOBAs in the world, League of Legends. This makes the similarities to CS:GO and other games like Half-Life even more interesting.
If you would like to try an FPS that mixes the tried-and-tested formula with MOBA elements, Valorant is an excellent choice. The goal remains the same: plant the bomb (or the spike) in one of three locations (instead of the usual two) and make sure it explodes. Or prevent the enemy side from accomplishing this.
6. Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment made Apex Legends in 2019 and it feels incredibly modern. This title brings a simple yet powerful MOBA element to the FPS genre and uses battle royale as its primary game mode. The result is quite exceptional and highly addictive.
There are more than 20 legends (the playable heroes) and every one is unique, in the sense that it has a set of three abilities that no other character has. These abilities fall into three categories: tactical, passive, and ultimate, which shape the character’s playstyle.
Apex Legends puts a lot of tools at your disposal and allows you to win using your own formula. There’s sufficient room for creativity to make the experience highly addictive. And the way in which you move around the map keeps you glued to your screen.
Apex Legends encourages action and taking risks. There’s not much to gain by waiting passively. Meanwhile, a few won duels at the start of the round can turn you into a lethal soldier that nobody wants to fight.
Classic FPS elements, such as aim and weapon mastery, play a big role in this game. However, they do not define your experience completely. There are all kinds of other tactical elements that players need to take into account and the player with the superior aim doesn’t always win.
This is a game that rewards practice and encourages players to get better over time. It’s well worth checking out if you’re a fan of Half-Life.
7. Call of Duty
Call of Duty is one of the most popular FPS series in the world. In total, the franchise has sold around 500 million copies and the game’s popularity far surpasses that of most of the other titles in the genre.
In CoD, the single-player campaigns offer a lot of great content and some memorable stories. But the game is so well designed for competitive play that few people talk about the single-player aspect.
In total, there are dozens of guns that you can choose from and the playstyle is very basic. The game is similar to CS:GO, in the sense that the difference is made by map knowledge, tactical ability, aim expertise, and weapons expertise.
The characters you get to play as offer nothing in terms of attributes or abilities. There’s no class system and no special abilities.
CoD offers people a pure FPS experience but with a twist. The maps focus on a wide variety of game modes, such as Hardpoint, Control, and Search & Destroy.
Apart from this aspect that does indeed add excellent variety to how you play the game, the game is completely old school in its design. If you’re a fan of games similar to Half-Life and want to try more of a classic FPS game, the Call of Duty games are worth checking out.
PUBG is another battle royale game that has conquered the world. This title came out at the end of 2017 and over a billion people have played it.
PUBG’s formula is very simple. You always start with very little, on a map full of other players who are in the same position as you. You scavenge for weapons and equipment and shoot at everything that moves. The goal is to be the last man standing.
As time goes on, the circle that determines the playable area of the map shrinks. This forces players to gradually get closer to each other.
The key to winning a game of PUBG is to find a good weapon as soon as possible and win a few duels with players who own valuable equipment. If you succeed, the second step is to play carefully and let the other players eliminate each other. The beginning and the end of each round are the hardest.
PUBG is a realistic first-person shooter, in the sense that characters don’t really matter. You don’t have classes to choose from and every agent you get to play is the same. The deciding factor is the equipment you find.
This battle royale game revolves around individual skill but the RNG element is not negligible. If you stumble upon a great gun right away and run into players who can’t see you or have bad aim, that will significantly boost your chances of winning the round.
The survival element will make this game a hit for any Half-Life fans who haven’t played it before. It’s also a lot of fun to play with friends.
9. Max Payne
Remedy Entertainment and Rockstar Studios released Remedy Entertainment in 2001. It was truly revolutionary for its genre.
In fact, it would have been even more revolutionary, but the developers kept delaying the release date of the game and the film ‘The Matrix’ came out in 1999. Because of that, Max Payne seemed to have copied the slow-motion effect from the movie but actually, Remedy Entertainment and Rockstar Studios were the ones who invented it first.
Max Payne is a third-person shooter about a detective who takes matters into his own hands after drug addicts kill his family. The story in this game is told in a comic book style and is fully voiced by the people who made it.
Every single aspect of this game is a masterpiece, from the soundtrack to the story and the action itself. Max Payne received a score of 91 from players on Metacritic, which is a rarity in the video games industry.
One of the cool things about Max Payne is that it does a great job at making you care about the main protagonist. The dialogue is incredibly well written and the whole story is delivered to you one slice at a time. This was one of the first games that blended action with a story in a memorable way and has remained an industry benchmark.
10. Deus Ex Human Revolution
Deus Ex Human Revolution came out in 2011 and was the continuation of a series that started in the year 2000. The first two games had been very ambitious in the storytelling department, but this one wanted to revolutionize the gameplay as well.
Deus Ex Human Revolution has one of the best single-player campaigns in all of gaming. The story starts with a memorable trailer and the famous words that have since become a meme: “I never asked for this.” Your character, Adam Jensen, is a security officer for Sarif Industries, a firm that creates augmentations.
The action takes place in the year 2027 and the game explores themes like transhumanism, corporate corruption, conspiracy, and cyberpunk. Deus Ex is a blend of many things and the more interested you are in underground culture, the more you’ll appreciate it.
Arguably, the most impressive story of the series was delivered by the first game, Deus Ex. But this one is very close to it and will keep you glued to your screen from start to finish. The story of Adam Jensen is worth investigating and the world he lives in is not that different from what our own future might look like.
The augmentations you’ll get to experiment with look and feel amazing. They make the shooting and fighting very exciting and the game has an RPG feel to it. As you move through the story, you become stronger and unlock new augmentations.
11. Titanfall 2
Titanfall 2 came out in 2016 and offers an exceptional single-player campaign. The multiplayer is also fun, but the single-player experience is the reason why this game got such high ratings on Steam and Metacritic.
The game’s buddy system allows you to pilot a titan called BT-7274. But this titan is more than a machine enhanced with artificial intelligence. It becomes your friend over the course of the game and demonstrates to you at every step of the way that he genuinely cares about your well-being.
This connection that you have with BT makes the game superb and full of memorable moments. The voice of the robot inspires a lot of trust and there are moments during the game when you have to put all your trust in its judgment.
BT is deeply empathetic with your situation, gives you great advice, makes you trust yourself a bit more, and is there for you when things don’t go as planned. This character brings back memories of T-800 from Terminator 2.
Visually, the game is stunning. And every move you make feels great. The company that developed Titanfall 2 is the same company that made Apex Legends. Respawn Entertainment did an excellent job at making the player feel immersed in the world and care for everything that happens in it.