The shooter is another long-standing genre that developed several early offshoots and branched out into two primary sub-genres: the first-person shooter (FPS) and the third-person shooter (TPS).
There’s also plenty of potential for overlap here since many contemporary titles allow you to toggle between first and third-person viewpoints. Not only that, but most battle royale games – a sub-genre unto itself – operate as either first or third-person shooters, including Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
The key difference is perspective. An FPS simulates a typical human viewpoint, showing essentially what your in-game character sees in franchises like Half-LifeCall of Duty, and DOOM. A TPS pulls the perspective back and showcases your entire character and surrounding environments, such as in the Gears of War and Tom Clancy’s The Division series.
The premise for these games is simple, but it’s been repackaged in many ways over the years. Older players probably remember the earliest arcade and gallery-style shooters with on-the-rails gameplay and relatively simple environments. Then there are shoot-em-ups (or shmups) and bullet-hell games, both of which rely heavily on twitchy gameplay involving plenty of shooting.
While most shooter games split into FPS and TPS gameplay, they’re frequently talked about as elements in other games. Grand Theft Auto V is an example of overlap. It rides the new wave of modern sandbox games, but it also has substantial TPS elements (and you can play it in first-person if you want). By contrast, the Halo series is primarily known for its groundbreaking FPS gameplay.
FPS/TPS examples
  • Halo (FPS)
  • Gears of War (TPS)
  • DOOM (FPS)