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Marginal or less popular FPS games that brought innovation to the genre

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Being upfront, I am not a seasoned FPS player, for numerous reasons (most notably being a lack of a computer during my formative game playing years, instead relying on consoles), so my understanding of the genre compared to most fans is laughably inadequate. That said, the FPS as a genre is so damn popular, and the flagship titles so monumental in scope and cultural impact that I’d have to be dead to not be aware of the seminal games in the genre.

We all know about Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake. Unreal and the rising popularity of online death match. Half-Life and it’s impact on storytelling. Marathon and it’s spiritual successor Halo. System Shock and then it’s later successor Bioshock. Goldeneye. The plethora of military shooters, from cinematic rollercoasters like Medal of Honor and the later Call of Duty series, or the sprawling multiplayer chaos of Battlefield, or the sprawling licenses of Tom Clancy, like Ghost Recon and Rainbkw Six. Team based affairs like Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, and their descendants.

These are the titles I’m familiar with, at least in passing. If you asked me to create a list of “important games in the history of the genre”, these are the games that would come to mind, even though I’ve personally played very few of them. They would make the list because, like cream rising to the top, they are the ones I, a non-fan, hear about.

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But I know there is a lot more to the genre. I am sure there are games I am completely unaware of that introduced new gameplay concepts that were later perfected by one of the more famous titles. I am sure there are games that maybe made interesting design choices that for whatever reason didn’t catch on, either being ahead of their time or perhaps being bold failures. I am sure there are otherwise excellent games that failed to break out into the larger market because they were overshadowed by the titans of the genre.

What are these games? What made them special despite their relative unpopularity? What made them unique, beloved, forgotten, or ignored?

If we think about the major titles of the genre as the huge steps along the path of the history of the genre, which titles represent the stepping stones between them?


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