25 best action games you can play right now

The best action games promote good combat systems. Listen, we don’t make the rules, we just rank games according to them. Whether you are staring down the barrel of a gun, peering over a protagonist’s shoulder, or guiding a character through a sprawling open world, the best action games can take many different forms in the modern era. But one thing ties all of the best action games together, and it’s the variety that their combat systems can deliver. 

The action genre is one of the most popular, which means iteration and evolution is quick to occur. And so while there are a lot of truly fantastic action games from the past, we have kept our attention focused on the 25 best action games that still feel great to play today.

25. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Best action games

(Image credit: Konami)

Developer: Kojima Productions
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One  

There’s a very good chance that Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is the last MGS game we get, following the dissolution of Kojima Productions, and what a legacy it has left behind. It’s the pinnacle of stealth action, taking the classic rhythms that the Metal Gear Solid series was founded upon and stretching them out across a truly dynamic open world. You’re giving the space and freedom to play against a web of interconnected systems, leading to an experience that feels as if it is constantly evolving – forever pushing back against your best laid plans for espionage and infiltration. The Phantom Pain is a weird, one of a kind monster. 

24. Elden Ring

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Developer: FromSoftware
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Elden Ring is a lot of things. Grand adventure, deep RPG, challenging dungeon crawler, and, if you get your character build right, a pretty excellent action game. One of the strengths of FromSoftware’s fantasy epic is that it’s pretty malleable – you have universal freedom to pick weapons and define a fighting style. The result of this means that you can play Elden Ring as an action experience if you want to – storming into battles with dual blades held high, dodge-rolling through encounters, and wielding weapon arts with precision to maintain combos. Elden Ring features of the best boss battles around, so don’t skip out on this thunderous experience.

23. Resident Evil 2 

Best action games

(Image credit: Capcom)

Developer: Capcom
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Capcom has proven itself to be the masters of the remake. 2002’s Resident Evil was an excellent trip back to the Spencer Mansion, but it’s 2019’s return to Racoon City in Resident Evil 2 that ultimately makes this list of the best action games. It’s a truly phenomenal game, generating an incredible sense of time and place through its beautiful environments, haunting sound design, and heavy third-person combat – bullets shred through infected flesh in a way that makes you feel truly powerful, which is forever offset by a vulnerability created by dwindling ammo supplies. Resident Evil 2 is one of the more slowly paced action games on this list, but it’s an undeniably excellent experience from start to finish. 

22. Doom Eternal

Best action games

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Developer: id Software
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Rip, tear, and shred: that’s the foundation of Doom Eternal’s hyper-active, hyper-violent combat. And it’s all the better because of it! Doom Eternal is so successful as an action game because it understands the value in forward momentum, in constantly pushing you within slashing distance of enemies. It forces you to engage with enemies to replenish your health and ammunition, and the harder you fight, the longer you can last out waves of towering demons that rush you from all angles. It’s a powerful system that turns Doom’s quickening rhythms into a form of blood-soaked magic.  

21. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Best action games

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

While there’s good value to be found in the entire rebooted Lara Croft trilogy, Rise of the Tomb Raider is undoubtedly the most exhilarating of the bunch. It captures this pervasive feeling of isolation and uses it to propel us through a wonderful, lengthy adventure that’s full of action and suspense. While developer Crystal Dynamics clearly learned a lot of lessons from the Uncharted series, there’s a broader focus on survival here than in Nathan Drake’s travels, lending Rise of the Tomb Raider a pretty unique rhythm. Explore, fight, survive with one of gaming’s best heroes, in one of the last generation’s best action games in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

20. Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Best action games

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Developer: Monolith Productions
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

If you’re feeling a little burned out on more traditional open-world action games you might want to consider giving Middle-earth: Shadow of War a go. Developer Monolith Productions delivers combat and exploration that will be familiar to any Assassin’s Creed or Batman: Arkham fans out there, but Shadow of War is able to carve out its own unique space with its Nemesis system. It generates a steady stream of rivalries with just about any Uruk you come into contact with, making it feel as if the world is constantly reacting to your presence and pushing back against your progression. It’s a really fun way to inject variety into your journey to forge a new Ring of Power.  

19. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Best action games

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is not only one of the best open world games, but one of the best action games too. It’s been a couple of years since Ubisoft Montreal shifted the Assassin’s Creed series into action-RPG territory, and Valhalla is the ultimate proof point of why that was such a wise decision. It builds smartly on the combat revisions introduced in Origins and Odyssey as it pushes you out across England in the Dark Ages. You have all the tools you need to conquer the land, fight armies of enemies, and go toe-to-toe with an array of mythical beasts. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the ultimate viking simulator, and its awesome combat reflects that. 

18. Monster Hunter World

Best action games

(Image credit: Capcom)

Developer: Capcom
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

If you’re after an action game that can hold your attention for months at a time, you can stop your search at Monster Hunter World. At a top line level, the appeal is obvious: venture out into beautiful sprawling open areas alone or with friends, track screen-dwarfing beasts, prepare yourself for battle, and then use comically oversized weapons to kill down in combat – once the monster has been felled, use its bones and scales to create even more absurd swords, hammers, and axes. Monster Hunter World has a fairly steep learning curve, but if you’re willing to invest time into this loop you’ll find a complex and moreish action game unlike anything else out there.  

17. Gears 5

Gears 5

(Image credit: Microsoft Studios)

Developer: The Coalition
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

If you’re after an Xbox exclusive action game, you shouldn’t look any further than Gears 5. The Coalition expanded the scope of its battlefields to deliver a much bigger experience, a nice twist on Gears of Wars’ classically claustrophobic level design. The result is an action game that knows when to up the ante and when to let you breathe, settling into an exciting rhythm of challenging shootouts and contemplative exploration. And it’s still gory as all hell too – it’s been over a decade since this series made its debut, but the Lancer and its chainsaw underbarrel attachment remains one of the most effective weapons in video game history. 

16. Super Mario Odyssey

Best action games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Developer: Nintendo
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Alright, hear us out on this one: great action games don’t necessarily need to be focused on bashing skulls. Super Mario Odyssey is an all-ages action game, eschewing the traditional focus on surmounting challenges in favor of something a little more relaxing. Odyssey is a tightly designed action game with fun platforming, good puzzles, and excellent boss battles – it’s the sort of experience you’ll be happy that you sunk time into. Super Mario Odyssey is considered to be one of the best Switch games for good reason, it’s a genuinely enjoyable adventure from its opening moments through to its last.  

15. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Best action games

(Image credit: EA)

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

When Titanfall developer Respawn announced that it was shifting its attention away from first-person shooters to look towards a galaxy far, far, away few knew what to expect. The studio channeled its penchant for smooth movement, excellent set-piece design, and considered storytelling into what is undoubtedly one of the best Star Wars games of all-time. Jedi: Fallen Order is a fun romp, with a great structure and truly awesome lightsaber combat. One of the best weapons in entertainment history is given a new lease on life here, making us feel like a Jedi unlike any game before it. 

14. Dying Light 2

Best action games

(Image credit: Techland)

Developer: Techland
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

How do you think you’d fare in a zombie apocalypse? Dying Light 2 will let you put that bravado to the test, dropping you into a sprawling city and leaving you free to survive with whatever weapons and equipment you can get your hands on. Dying Light 2 is so effective as an action game because of its willingness to shift its cadence between brutal melee combat and the ability to move about freely; navigating towering rooftops can feel just as suspenseful as swinging a spike-covered baseball bat into a crowd of fast-approaching zombies, and that’s all a part of its charm.

13. Dead Cells

Best action games

(Image credit: TwinMotion)

Developer: Motion Twin
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Dead Cells is the perfect pick-up-and-play action game. It’s the sort of experience that creates an unshakable ‘just more try’ dynamic, forever willing you deeper into its worlds. Dead Cells is certainly challenging, but it’s so perfectly designed – from its generated level design to precise combat and aggressive enemy AI – that you’ll be only too happy to try and try again. Don’t let its retro aesthetic fool you either, this is a roguelike built for modern audiences to appreciate. It’s an action game that’s overflowing with variety, a gauntlet stacked with ever-surmounting challenges, and an experience that always feels as if it’s testing, and improving, your ambition to succeed. 

12. Bayonetta 2

Best action games

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

Developer: PlatinumGames
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

PlatinumGames has always had a penchant for stylish action. The studio has a keen understanding of the action genre and nowhere is that more evident than in Bayonetta 2. It’s silly, and absurdist, pushing you into battles with angels and demons that tower beyond the borders of your television, all as you take control of a witch with pistols affixed to the bottom of her boots, but that’s all part of the appeal. Bayonetta 2 is a pure video game, unwilling to take itself too seriously and the sort of bold, bombastic action sequences that’ll make you fall in love with this genre all over again. 

11. Nier Automata

Best action games

(Image credit: PlatinumGames)

Developer: PlatinumGames
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

Nier Automata is one of those games that, if you spend enough time with it, you’ll soon find yourself trying to convince your friends that it’s one of the greatest games of all time. That’s because there’s far more than meets the eye with this styling action game. While it certainly follows in the footsteps of PlatinumGames’ previous works – Bayonetta and Vanquish in particular, which are each sterling works in their own right – Nier Automata is this weird little beast. It’s a transformative experience, shifting effortlessly from caustic combat to frantic bullet-hell to open-world RPG, and it’s all the better because of it. Tough to master, great to play, and surprising until the end, Nier: Automata… it has to be played to be believed. 

10. Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West

(Image credit: Guerrilla Games)

Developer: Guerrilla Games
Platform(s): PS4, PS5

One reason Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, are so utterly enthralling is that they are able to take sublime action and thread it carefully through a sprawling open world. As expansive as these games are, combat remains at the heart of the experience – Aloy is free to explore, but battling humongous robotic dinosaurs with all manner of melee weapons, electronic traps, and environmental effects is always the focus. Horizon Forbidden West isn’t just a showcase for the power of the PS5, it’s a stunning look at the future of the action genre, melding great combat design with a world you’ll be desperate to spend time in. 

9. Hades

Best action games

(Image credit: Supergiant Games)

Developer: Supergiant Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch

If you play Hades, you will fall in love with it. That’s a deal you make with the devil – well, developer Supergiant Games – should you put this game in your hands. While it’s classed as a roguelike, that genre branding comes with decades of baggage attached to it that belies the action mastery at the heart of Hades. While Hades is undoubtedly challenging, its combat is indisputably impressive. Death equals rebirth equals a chance to try, try again. Hades pulls off this wonderful trick where it always feels as if you’re improving, learning something new about the parade of loveable villains openly mocking you, even as you’re being put on your ass. It’s a damned good time.

8. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Best action games

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Developer: Eidos Montreal
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

I’ll tell you what’s rare: an action game with a heart. And I’ll tell you what’s like gold dust in an industry renowned for its poe-faced protagonists: an action game that can have you genuinely laughing out loud. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has both of these qualities, packaging them together with a kinetic adventure that delights from its first combat sequence through to its last. Eidos Montreal delivered a real sleeper hit in Guardians of the Galaxy; this is one of those games players and developers alike will talk about with real reverence in a couple of years due to its unique combat system and masterful world-building, so why not get into it now – you know, before it was cool. 

7. Control

Best action games

(Image credit: Remedy)

Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Remedy Entertainment has built itself quite the reputation. Through games like Alan Wake, Max Payne, and Quantum Break it has become known for creating weird, energetic, and contemplative adventures. With Control, it felt as if Remedy put all of that expertise into a single experience – an action game that isn’t afraid to embrace the supernatural and shift its gears to accommodate waning attention spans. Whether you’re blasting through waves of Hiss agents, trying to navigate ever-shifting combat spaces, or sifting through paperwork to get a better understanding of the world-state, Control always rises to meet the moment. 

6. The Last of Us 2

Best action games

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform(s): PS4, PS5

The Last of Us: Part 2 isn’t for the faint of heart. Naughty Dog effectively unleashed a 25-hour gut punch upon an unsuspecting world and we still haven’t recovered. Part-adventure game, chronicling two characters on intertwining tracks of revenge, and part-action experience, featuring some of the most meticulously detailed shooting and stealth mechanics you’ll ever hope to see. The Last of Us 2 is a true achievement, visually ambitious and sonically imposing, pushing fidelity and performance in a way that few studios can. It’s sad, somber, exhilarating, and awe-inspiring; an action game that will get your blood pumping before it rips your damned heart out. 

5. Devil May Cry 5

Best action games

(Image credit: Capcom)

Developer: Capcom
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Devil May Cry is the action genre incarnate. The series has always been audacious and outlandish, planting its tongue so firmly in cheek that it’s a surprise it doesn’t pierce the skin. That’s on the power of Dante alone, the silver-haired fox who is as happy wielding dual-pistols as he is bloody huge swords, motorbikes, and any other objects he can get his demonic hands on. Devil May Cry 5 is a hell of a good time as a result, even as it shifts gears between a roster of characters – a pure adrenaline rush of climbing combos and suffocatingly tight combat mechanics, a heavy metal rhythm action game in all but name. 

4. Bloodborne

Best action games

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Developer: FromSoftware
Platform(s): PS4

FromSoftware’s gothic adventure is unlike any other. While it may draw from the same demonic force as Dark Souls, and be just as capable at wearing down the patience of any players that dare step into its gauntlets, Bloodborne succeeds on the power of its action. On that carefully balanced cadence between attack and defense, full-throated assaults and perfectly-timed retreats. Bloodborne isn’t for everyone, but those who are willing to put in the time and energy to crash through its skill ceiling will find an action game that is uncompromising, exhilarating, and utterly enthralling. 

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man

Best action games

(Image credit: Insomniac Games)

Developer: Insomniac Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5

For years, anytime Insomniac released a video game it was met with a ‘yeah, this is good, but I’d bet they’d make one hell of a Spider-Man game.’ Well, the studio finally got its chance and it absolutely knocked it out of the park. Combat mechanics refined through Ratchet & Clank, open world systems road tested in Sunset Overdrive, and a pitch-perfect sense of comedic timing all contribute to Marvel’s Spider-Man being the absolute monster of an action experience that it is. It’s pure fan-service, a keen reflection of the agility of Spider-Man as a hero and the humanity of poor Peter Parker behind the mask. 

2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best action games

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5

Nathan Drake couldn’t have hoped for a better send-off. With a Thief’s End, Naughty Dog embraced the legacy of PlayStation’s most important mascot in a generation and delivered a truly seminal adventure. Uncharted has always felt as if it were this smooth blend of Tomb Raider’s action and Indiana Jones’ attitude, and nowhere is that better represented than in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Whether you’re new to the series or have been following along from the beginning, this is cinematic action at its finest – leading you from one heart-stopping set-piece to another with heart, humor, and an atmosphere of swashbuckling resilience that you can’t help but fall in love with.

1. God of War

Best action games

(Image credit: Sony Santa Monica)

Developer: Insomniac Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5

Few believed that Sony Santa Monica would be able to make Kratos relevant again. Times had changed, and the industry had moved on from the glorious, senseless aggression that helped define his original trilogy of games. And then God of War arrived, a title that straddled the line between reboot and sequel and delivered a definitive experience of the PS4 era in the aftermath of its action. It’s a truly wondrous experience, capturing a sense of fluid motion and control in its combat that few games have ever achieved. God of War is a truly must-play action again, particularly ahead of God of War Ragnarok on PS5.  

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