After the success of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, many developers shifted their focus from the World War setting to a more realistic and contemporary one. Squad is one such game; it pits two teams against each other on huge maps (up to 16 X 16 km) to achieve various objectives (King of the hill, search and destroy, etc.).
Where games like Squad differ from your standard run of the mill FPS games is their emphasis on realistic gunplay. Now, when I say realistic, I am not talking about the game’s setting or its historical accuracy. I am referring to strictly how the gunplay and movement feel in the games, and Squad does a decent job with that. While it restricts movement by providing a stamina stat and running low on stamina also hinders your ability to aim, it also allows more freedom compared to other titles by giving you options to choose where you wish to attack the objective from.
Squad is meant to be a team game, but like all online games, you can’t expect much teamwork or communication if you’re not playing with friends. Still, even in a solo experience, the game is fun and solid; it doesn’t have issues like bad servers or broken hit registration. It’s a well-polished FPS title, so without wasting any more of your time, here are 10 games I believe will provide you with a similar or better experience.
1. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
How can we talk about the current-gen FPS genre without mentioning Ubisoft’s cash cow? Rainbow Six Siege began as a competitive shooter with a strong emphasis on realism in a siege situation. For the uninitiated, a “siege” is basically entering and clearing a fortified structure, and that is exactly what attackers have to do. At the same time, the defenders prepare the objective by barricading doors, reinforcing walls and setting down traps and utility to prevent the attackers from accomplishing their goal.
Since its release, Siege has taken a turn towards being more fair and balanced than more realistic, and it has seen many reworks to maps and operators because of that, what started with 20 operators, Siege now has over 50 operators, each with their own gadget and mostly, their own weaponry.
While Siege is no longer the gritty, realistic shooter they were initially going for, it is still more fun and grounded than most FPS games. However, newcomers beware; this game has a very high difficulty curve. Personally, I like to call it the DOTA of the competitive FPS genre.
2. SWAT 4
SWAT 4 is the one game I make a point to install if and when I switch my PCs. No game has been able to do what SWAT 4 did almost two decades ago, it has a realistic setting with realistic gunplay and realistic reactions from NPCs to your presence.
You commandeer and lead a team of SWAT officers to various situations (it could be one guy who’s holding a hostage or just a team of terrorists hanging around in a mansion), the motive of the game is just like SWAT’s (in real life) – Save lives. That also includes the lives of people trying to kill you.
SWAT does many unique things. Say, for example, there is a building with two points of entry. You, as a commander, could ask the blue team to stack up to the door on the right while you and the red team head to the left. Pressing “Page up” will bring up the body cam of the blue team. You could proceed to give them orders from the body cam by pressing Caps Lock and enlarging the PIP; this mechanic allows for some sweet non-scripted action movie-esque scenes. There is also a sniper who is so far away from the field he virtually can’t be shot, but pressing the “end” key will allow you to control the Sniper and clear out any thugs in the way (if you so choose to).
Ultimately to get a good rating though, you will have to subdue and handcuff your suspects; shooting civilians is an instant mission fail, and it is not always clear who the enemy is. SWAT is a very realistic take on situations that are being faced by law enforcement globally every day. There are mods for a multiplayer experience, but I have never tried them.
3. Hunt: Showdown
Regular readers might remember my list for 7 days to die, which featured this title. However, comparisons are different with context to Squad. While Hunt is still a PvPvE zombie monster setting, it does take some strategy to achieve victory.
Hunt sees you and your team (of up to 3) going to a dilapidated and dead swamp in Louisiana to kill a monster boss and banish them, collecting their bounty and escaping. But that’s easier said than done since you’re not alone. While the AI is easy to beat once you learn which enemy is capable of what, the players introduce the proverbial human element to the game. Shots can be heard across the map, so once you start fighting the boss, every human is onto you; once you start to banish the boss (which takes a good 2-3 minutes), your location will be highlighted on the map, narrowing down the path for players looking to steal your bounty. Collecting the bounty will provide you with an advantage which is basically the ability to have wall hacks for 5 seconds, players that hold bounty will be visible to everyone on the map.
The guns are realistic to their era, so you don’t have an assault rifle or an automatic shotgun, what you have are hard to control and loud Single-shot rifles, and you have to make the shot count because most rifles are only capable of holding one bullet in the chamber and no magazine or they are bolt-actions.
Hunt may not have the realistic setting of modern war that Squad does, but its capacity for effective gunplay and strategical planning with friends before execution is on-par, if not slightly more polished than Squad’s.
4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas
No, it’s not the same game; Ubisoft just likes to throw in Tom Clancy’s name on every game they make. Vegas is a strictly single-player game (now that the servers are dead), unlike Siege, which is a competitive shooter.
Vegas could be called the spiritual successor of SWAT, but it doesn’t top the bar. The AI and maps were far superior in SWAT.
Vegas has a more linear approach to things and has scripted Hollywood-esque events. However, there are still elements of teamwork as you command your fellow operatives to clear out rooms or hold a flank. For players who want an even more realistic option, Rainbow Six: Raven Shield is perhaps a better option.
Insurgency has the most in common with Squad than any other title on the list. Featuring a middle eastern setting with two factions to choose from, it has similar game modes to Squad and even has its own take on the stamina mechanic, which is even more grounded as there is no bar or other visual indicator for stamina but just the huffing and panting of your player as their gun sways after running for a kilometer trying to aim at your enemy.
There are different roles that can be unlocked by playing, which offer various abilities, including and not limited to marking a target area for an airstrike and then a different player confirming and calling the airstrike.
With solid gunplay and mechanics, Insurgency is a no brainer for people looking to play a game like Squad.
Does this game need an introduction? Valve’s (now) free to play title has amassed both critical and commercial success, and while it doesn’t have huge maps with 64 players, it still features solid gunplay and the perfect balance of teamwork paired with individual success, you are nothing without the team, the team is nothing without you.
The game pits players in a 5 v 5 situation where the terrorists must decide which bombsite to attack and counter-terrorists must defend the sites. For players looking for more competitive gameplay, this is a tried and tested title that just works.
Of course, Battlefield is on this list. Hell, they were the ones that popularised huge maps with 64 players battling it out, seeking victory. Interestingly the creators of Squad were also the creators of a mod “Project Reality” for Battlefield 2, which could be said to be the blueprint for the final product.
While there are a number of titles in the franchise, I believe the closest one that comes to Squad is Battlefield 4. Featuring the same kind of on-foot/vehicular combat from Squad battlefield doesn’t dwell in making the game more realistic oriented instead allows you to do crazy stuff like jumping off a plane, landing on a skyscraper, sniping people before you jump off the building to get back onto the falling plane.
Yeah, it is that amount of crazy. It’s a more casual approach to Squad’s gameplay; for those looking to have a fun time and not a military sim, this title is for you.
I’ve never been able to get into ARMA, specifically because it is not a game; it’s an actual military sim. There are no ranked queues or casual queues, there is only a list of servers to choose from, and booting into the servers leaves me even more confused about what I am supposed to do; there is no in-game tutorial for how the “game” is supposed to play.
Arma features nice gun play and graphics but calling it a game is a long stretch. Instead, Arma is probably what the army uses to simulate possible battles probably.
9. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (2001)
I remember playing the first Ghost Recon when I was a wee little lad, without a worry in the world sinking countless hours into it.
Ghost Recon features a team divided into three teams, There is team Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. Who will fill up these teams is mostly left to the player after giving them a rough idea of what their team should consist of.
I used to go with the tried and tested formula.
Team Alpha – Assault (They had operators with assault rifles and powerful handguns)
Team Bravo – Stealth (They had less gear to make them faster and also featured silenced weaponry)
Team Charlie – Snipers (Well, they stayed away from the action and picked off any enemy threats from afar)
Another player might have a different idea, once my friend who came over assigned assault operators to all 3 teams and just went in and rushed (and died).
Ghost Recon is perhaps the most tactical you can get and it’s a shame the newer generation of gamers won’t be able to appreciate it.
It featured big maps (not as big as squad or battlefield but guys it’s 2001) and heavy emphasis on the lives of your soldiers, the player could toggle between their soldiers using “Page Up” and “Page Down”, however losing a soldier means losing their progress XP and their gear. This was a sort of lite-roguelike mechanic that was perhaps my first introduction to it.
Honestly, I remember beating the game without losing anyone. Not because I was very good, but because I abused the quick save quick load mechanic to the max.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be played, though and I intend to reinstall the game soon and see if it was really as hard as I remember.
10. Escape From Tarkov
Yet another title from the 7 days to die article, and again, I must compare and contrast a different aspect of the game. While teamwork is more akin to PUBG than Squad, EFT features some of the most immersive gunplay. It really puts in order how tough it actually is to shoot an automatic rifle or even a pistol.
The first time I played the game, I had no idea what I was shooting at and complained to a veteran friend about how bad the hit reg is, to which he said, “It’s not the game. It’s you that has to get good” (typical gamer response).
EFT doesn’t make shooting easy, not until you have saved up enough to buy a barrel attachment, a grip, and a stock etc., for your weapon. A sight (because iron sights don’t make things any easier) will also not be missed.
EFT has a very different objective to Squad and focuses more on individual skill. However, it has excellent big maps and gunplay that is as realistic as they come.
Bottom line, if you like Squad’s gunplay, you don’t want to miss EFT.
Modern Shooters are not short in supply, many developers have tried dipping their toes into the genre but the saturated market makes only the best ones stand out, and while the genre has been around for a decade now leading especially in FPS games, it should be noted that like the World War setting before it one day, gamers will tire of modern combat and gravitate more towards either the past (Battlefield 1) or perhaps the future (Battlefield 2042). It will be exciting to see what the coming years will bring for us. I’ll be waiting, playing the first Ghost Recon and hoping one day we’ll get a successor to that.