5 Open Source First-Person Shooter Video Games

Pwn your opponents without spending a dime

Man wearing glasses playing a video game on his PC in a dark room

Yuri_Arcurs / DigitalVision

If you're looking to blow off some steam or kill a few hours, these free and open source first-person shooter (FPS) video games for Linux, Microsoft Windows, and OS X may be just what you need.

The basic FPS plot puts the player in a 3D world filled with enemies (aliens, monsters, and soldiers) and lots and lots of weapons to fight those enemies. In FPS games, the viewpoint is usually focused on the barrel of the player's gun, though it can also focus on a weapon's targeting crosshairs.

If you've never played an FPS but you think it sounds like something you could enjoy, these free and open source games are a great way to start. None of these games cost any money, but they give you the full FPS experience.

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'Alien Arena'

Alien Arena screenshot

Alien Arena

What We Like
  • Ability to play online with friends or offline with the AI.

  • Strong visual atmosphere and graphics.

  • Delivers a nostalgic feel with modern advancements.

What We Don't Like
  • Available for download from Steam for a few dollars.

  • Occasionally freezes briefly during gameplay.

With its retro sci-fi look and campy one-liners, Alien Arena seems to take the FPS genre seriously without taking itself too seriously.

Connect with players on your local network or with players around the globe in this alien showdown with a beautifully designed atmosphere. Or, if going it solo is more your thing, select single-player mode and play offline against a world full of alien bots that are a handful to deal with on the right settings.

Windows and Linux platform support provided.

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'Red Eclipse'

Red Eclipse game graphic

Red Eclipse

What We Like
  • Fun parkour physics add another dimension to this FPS.

  • Ability to create maps with other players.

  • Large number of game variables for diverse play.

What We Don't Like
  • Game graphics feel outdated.

  • Little character customization.

On the surface, Red Eclipse is a fairly textbook FPS, but its parkour-style physics allow players to perform unusual acrobatics, and its mode/mutator system offers an unusually wide range of gameplay.

Battles take place with other people on your local network or across the internet, while single play happens in the offline practice mode. Additionally, get together with your friends and build new maps in real-time so that you always have a new challenge.

Windows, Linux, macOS, and BSD platform support offered.

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Sauerbraten game graphic


What We Like
  • Fun and immersive death-match gameplay.

  • In-game map editing mechanism.

What We Don't Like
  • Single-player campaign mode feels patched together.

  • Difficult to find online players due to the game's age.

  • Game graphics feel outdated.

Private Stan Sauer has a problem — somehow he's ended up in an industrial complex where he's being attacked by orcs and ogres with big guns. When you play Sauerbraten in single-player campaign mode, Stan Sauer's problems become yours.

If it all sounds like too much for one person, connect with local and remote players for traditional multiplayer FPS fun. Similar to some other open source titles, Sauerbraten also contains in-game map editing capabilities for cooperative game design with friends.

Supported on Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms.

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Unvanquished videogame graphic


What We Like
  • New updates every month.

  • Level editor for easy modding.

  • Environment feels appropriately creepy.

  • Insect mechanic is an interesting twist.

What We Don't Like
  • Game graphics feel outdated, despite running on OpenGL 3.

  • Confusing to download the game for various platforms.

In this humans-versus-alien-insects FPS game, players are asked to choose sides and then fight against the opposing team. One particularly fun aspect of Unvanquished is that as insects, players can crawl on the walls and ceilings, adding a new, though perhaps somewhat disorienting, take on game physics.

Unvanquished doesn't have a single-player campaign mode; instead, you'll create a local server or connect to one of the many internet-based ones to play with people all over the world.

Windows, Linux, and macOS platform support provided.

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Xonotic videogame graphic


What We Like
  • Addictive and competitive gameplay.

  • Large collection of game modes to keep you interested.

  • Player statistics are great for pro gamers.

  • Customizable textures to alter game feel.

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of online players for multiplayer mode.

  • Steep learning curve.

Xonotic is all about the multiplayer experience, but you can practice offline against bots before moving the battle online. The gameplay is fast-paced and takes place in space-themed arenas where players use futuristic weapons to hunt each other down.

The community around this game is large for developers and players, and entering it makes you feel like you've become a part of something bigger than just a video game.

Supported on Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms.

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