- Ready Or Not brings intense realism and teamwork to a gritty SWAT-themed FPS, best enjoyed with a regular group of friends or with customizable AI teammates in single-player. (99 characters)
- No Plan B offers a rewarding tactical strategy game experience centered around careful planning and synchronization of squad members’ movements and actions. (120 characters)
- Hot Brass provides a polished top-down shooter with a unique aesthetic, best enjoyed in online or local co-op for a SWAT-like experience. (119 characters)
Military themes are common and popular in almost all genres of games, but especially so when it comes to FPS games and tactical shooters. However, certain games like those in the Rainbow Six franchise and the SWAT series take on smaller-scale themes and environments by putting players in the shoes of a Special Forces unit, often giving them control over their squadmates.
The following games focus on intense combat, tactical decisions, strategy, an immersive atmosphere, and a slow pace that encourages teamwork, precision, and patience. Fans of the above should find something to enjoy here, be it a top-down tactical RTS game, or a nail-biting co-operative FPS that focuses on realism.
Updated January 20, 2024, by Harry Ted Sprinks: There is an abundance of tactical shooters on the market, with Ready Or Not being one of the most popular of recent years. Despite this, it can be hard to discover games that lean further into a SWAT theme. However, with Ready Or Not’s popularity bringing tactical shooters back into the mainstream, there’s never been a better time to enjoy tactical, SWAT-themed games.
10 Harrowing Military Shooter Games
While the shooter genre in video games is large, a lot of them are military titles where they put players into the brutal reality of battle
8 Fast And Low – A Tactical VR Shooter With A Cartoon Tone
Steam User Rating: 80%
This tactical shooter features classic first-person shooter gameplay in a colorful cartoon world. Although Fast And Low retains the violence associated with the genre, the game includes an option to tone it down, even disabling character “gibbing.”
Fast And Low is a VR game that can be played in local and online co-op. This is rarity for VR games, and it’s arguably better when played with a friend. Fast And Low takes heavy inspiration from classic SWAT and Rainbow Six titles, and despite its cartoon visuals, it remains a tactical experience.
7 Hot Brass – A Top-Down Shooter With A Unique Aesthetic
Steam User Rating: 81%
This top-down shooter has a unique aesthetic that not everyone will love, but the way it displays characters as different icons makes the game highly readable. This is important in this context, given that players are tasked with making split-second decisions.
10 Video Games With Truly Unique Art Styles
Creative art styles bring a unique twist, and these are some of the best, most unique art styles in video games.
Hot Brass is best played in the game’s online or local co-op. Playing solo doesn’t particularly feel like a SWAT experience, especially given that the player has no AI squadmates in single-player. Despite this, Hot Brass is a polished top-down shooter that offers a cheaper and more accessible experience than other games.
6 Zero Hour – A Slow-Burning Tactical Shooter
Steam User Rating: 81%
This tactical FPS game focuses on slow-paced gameplay and intense situations that work to put the player on the edge of their seat. The game has players defusing bombs, rescuing hostages, and generally dealing with bad guys in squads of up to 10 players in online co-op, though the game also allows for single-player with up to 9 AI squadmates.
Zero Hour features a planning table that allows players to plot out their operation before going in, as well as detailed and immersive gunplay. The game currently offers 15 distinct maps to play through.
5 No Plan B – A Tactical Strategy Game All About Planning
Steam User Rating: 92%
No Plan B’s gameplay revolves entirely around strategic planning. Once players give their team the go-ahead, the action starts, and players lose control. While this leads to a lot of trial-and-error gameplay, watching the team enact a well-crafted plan to perfection is a satisfying feeling that never gets old.
No Plan B uses a timeline system that allows players to plan out and synchronize the movement and actions of their squad members, carefully positioning and ordering them at specific intervals. This focus on planning may turn certain players away, but for fans of strategic thinking, No Plan B is a rewarding experience.
4 Door Kickers – A Real-Time Tactics Game In Which Timing Is Everything
Steam User Rating: 94%
This top-down real-time tactics game has players controlling a SWAT team, leading them through several different building layouts using a series of triggered commands and real-time (with pause) strategy.
Choosing the right equipment and breach points is essential in Door Kickers, while precise timing and planning are crucial to pulling off a successful raid. Furthermore, almost all missions in Door Kickers play out in a matter of minutes, making it an easy game to pick up and play. Door Kickers also has a high replay value, complete with a level editor and two-player online co-op.
3 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield – A Classic Entry
Steam User Rating: 91%
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series has seen many iterations over the years, with Rainbow Six: Siege being one of the most popular competitive tactical shooters on the market. However, the original Rainbow Six games were very much focused on slower-paced, tactical combat and squad commands that emphasized playing around the team and carefully planning. Every Rainbow Six fan has a favorite, but Rainbow Six 3 is arguably the best.
Rainbow Six Siege: 10 Pro Tips For Expert Play
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is one of the best online shooters on the market, but it can be overwhelming. Here are some pro tips for expert play.
Before every mission in Rainbow Six 3, players need to pick and customize their team members, all of which have different specialties and stats that distinguish them from the rest. Players will also need to carefully pick the loadout of each squad member, ensuring that they bring the right tools for the job. Rainbow Six 3 also gives players a planning phase before each mission, granting them access to the floor plan and allowing them to decide the starting positions of each squad. Players can also place waypoints for their squads and trigger specific actions (like throwing grenades), making Rainbow Six 3 extremely tactical even before the bullets start flying.
2 Ready Or Not – An Immersive, Tactical Shooter That’s Better With Friends
Steam User Rating: 88%
Ready or Not
- December 13, 2023
- Void Interactive
This intensely tactical and immersive FPS focuses on realism and teamwork that encourages a patient, slow-paced approach. The game takes heavy inspiration from the SWAT series but with more modernized graphics and a focus on multiplayer co-op. Ready Or Not is best played with friends, but the game does include customizable AI teammates that players can command in single-player.
Ready Or Not throws players into the deep end of a multitude of hostile scenarios, giving them a variety of tools to handle every situation. Managing every squad member’s loadout is key to planning a successful operation, as players will need to make sure they’re prepared for every situation. Dynamic, reactive enemies provide unpredictable opponents for players, and the erratic civilians add to the chaos and keep players second-guessing around every corner. Overall, Ready Or Not is a great experience for those who enjoy gritty, realism-heavy tactical shooters, especially if they have a regular group to play it with.
1 SWAT 4 – A Tactical Classic
Steam User Rating: N/A (Available on GOG)
As the fourth entry in what is arguably the greatest tactical shooter franchise (though Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six is certainly a contender), it could be argued that SWAT 4 is the pinnacle of the series, and perhaps one of – if not the – greatest SWAT game of all time.
SWAT 4, developed by Irrational Games (the team behind System Shock 2 and BioShock Infinite, among others) and released in 2005, tasks players with moving through several missions packed with detailed, immersive environments. The gameplay is focused on quick reactions, following protocol, and taking advantage of squadmates using the game’s intuitive controls. Furthermore, SWAT 4 features random hostage and enemy placement, making replaying missions a lot more intense than they otherwise would be, heavily improving the game’s replay value.
The Best Tactical Shooters Of All Time, Ranked
Tactical shooters are different from your run-of-the-mill FPS. These titles stand out as the best the genre has to offer.