I enjoy a deeper level of teamwork than just queuing up together. Coordinating weapon selection, movement, and covering for each other feels a lot more rewarding than going out in a blaze of glory and respawning ten seconds later. Post Scriptum gave me a new appreciation for realism in videogames. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in Hell Let Loose as a result, but now I’ve found a new genre of sim along these lines that I think I like even more. Tactical Realism Shooters, or games where you work cooperatively to take on realistic (sim) scenarios. Slow, methodical gameplay with a purpose. A milsim feel with a squad level experience. Slow, methodical gameplay with a purpose. I’ve found several games that fit this genre well and I want to generally increase awareness about them. They have a lot of potential, but that potential comes directly from finding enough people to play with. Without teammates, Tactical Realism Shooters just don’t feel the same.

Arma 3 is a bit of an oddball in this regard. It’s certainly a full fledged milsim, but it has a lot of mods and story scenarios where you can shrink down your team size to just a handful. It’d be impossible to list all of the squad level options, but the latest example is their newest DLC. The S.O.G. Prairie Fire creator DLC is a Vietnam era co-op campaign for up to 14 players. While I think 14 is on the larger end, it is scalable and can be done with less players. This DLC is absolutely on my wishlist for when more of my viewers pick it up, we already play Arma 3 sporadically.

GTFO brings something a little different to the table. It’s lighter on gunplay, with more of an emphasis on stealth and melee. GTFO also has an amazing atmosphere though, which is really it’s biggest selling point. It’s rich with horror elements and takes place in a modern setting. There is a tiny bit of story, but it’s totally background and you can ignore it if you like. I do find it pretty interesting though. GTFO is absolutely a hardcore game, and not for someone who likes to run and gun. There are no respawns, and no save points. It’s you versus a gruesome enemy in a dark, quiet underground compound. Emphasis on quiet.

Ground Branch is the title I have played the most, and has cemented my love for the genre. Craft your own custom scenarios with an incredible amount of options. Number of enemies, AI difficulty, game mode (search for intel or eliminate terrorists), big maps and small maps, from urban cities, to wilderness, to industrial areas. Execute missions solo or with up to eight friends. There is a PvP mode as well, but there is no matchmaking so you’ll need to join or bring your own group.

Zero Hour has been released into early access, and I’ve picked it up and played it a bit recently. It is a close quarters combat-experience set in fictional areas of Bangladesh. You take on various scenarios with a team of up to 5 players as group of SWAT units. In this regard it’s more of a law enforcement feel than a military feel. Various objectives are involved such as rescuing hostages, arresting suspects, and collecting guns. It’s a lot like Hot Brass, just an FPS version. Zero Hour isn’t about shooting up the place like the wild west, sometimes you have to give suspects a chance to surrender by challenging them before you shoot. It’s quite the challenge sometimes.

No More Home is an indie tactical shooter that should release anytime now. It will be free to play and take place in a sci fi setting. I haven’t played or seen any gameplay yet, but it does claim to be a “tactical cooperation shooter”. You are defending Earth from an invasion of alien AI drones and walkers. Not a lot to go on so far, but it looks like it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Six Days In Fallujah tries to recreate the atmosphere of the second battle of Fallujah from the perspective of the US Marines. You and a team of your friends have to tackle house-to-house searches where the enemy could be behind any door. Maps are procedurally generated for a unique game every time. To top it all off, the team is joined by an actual veteran of the battle. Hopefully this means we can expect a really immersive experience.

Ready or Not seems to be similar to GTFO in that it has some story elements, though it is unclear how deep the “story” goes. It takes place in some sort of alternate-modern setting with an ultra-corrupt (more than usual) government. The game hasn’t been released yet, so there’s no gameplay and little info beyond the Steam page. Ready or Not seems to have a more Police/SWAT feel like Zero Hour, with objectives that go beyond counting corpses.

So this has been your 2021 lineup of tactical shooters. Door Kickers and Hot Brass are a couple of top-down shooters if that’s your thing, but I prefer the FPS/3PS versions. Communication is key, and solving problems on the fly is a challenge I enjoy. As the genre develops, I look forward to seeing the occasional title drift in this direction. They take a high level of coordination that is going to be difficult to achieve with a group of randoms. Some do have a solo mode, but I feel like the genre was custom made for multiplayer gameplay. If there are other titles I missed, please drop ’em in the commens. I’d love to see them and check them out. In the meantime, slice the pie and check your corners!

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