Best free (and open-source) FPS games

Nov 25, 2008
Updated • Nov 24, 2012

Whilst first person shooters are mainly confined to the console, several good FPS games are available for PC. I'm nothing more than a casual gamer but I enjoy shooters and I was surprised by the sheer number available. I use a Mac, so this article will primarily focus on cross-platform shooters.


AssaultCube is a quite simple 3D FPS available for Linux, OS X and Windows, which just reached version 1.0 about a week ago. The graphics are not very advanced, but a benefit of this is that it's easier to run a server and that it can run on nearly any machine.

The best aspect of AssaultCube is the online play; there's always a few busy servers available where one can play capture the flag, deathmatches or variations on those modes. AssaultCube is limited to seven weapons: sniper rifle, assault rifle, handgun, grenades, knives, shotgun and submachine guns.

Maps can be created for AssaultCube quite easily.


Sauerbraten is an FPS built on the same engine on which AssaultCube is built but has much more sophisticated graphics and is built in a fantasy world as opposed to a real one.

In Sauerbraten, weapons include crossbows, guns and rocketlaunchers. This is definitely a more interesting variety than AssaultCube! Once again, CTF and deathmatch are popular game modes.

The game notably lacks a crouch mechanism and struggles to run at higher resolutions on my MacBook Pro. However, it is an amazing open-source game with many fantastic maps.

Once again, Sauerbraten is orientated towards online pay but the CPU games are much better than AssaultCube's.

Interestingly, the game can also be played as a 3rd person shooter!


Nexuiz is an FPS with quite fictional weapons, like electricity guns etc. The game clearly belongs in the realms of fantasy, being set on a space station where one must shoot aliens.

I find the game difficult to play. Movement is far too fast compared to Cube engine games and it really does require quick reflexives.

The game isn't smooth either. Before a game starts, there's a text-only screen telling me what is loading etc. and the menu at the start looks terrible, especially at my screen resolution.

It's still a fantastic game to play, however.




Needless to say there's scores of other good games, these are just my favourite free (as in beer and freedom) shooters.


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  1. Sapateiro said on October 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm


    Just go play WarRock.. A solid player base after such a long damn time has to be good for something, right??
    Just a message to anyone wanting to get into it or who wants to start again:
    Theyre handing out free M4 spectres with every new account at! They hae good offers for other games aswell.. Definitly worth checking it out! Go go! :)

  2. Levi Skull said on April 5, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Hey guys check out bloodfrontier, a halo like game that runs on a cube 2 engine download for free today

  3. ejhr said on March 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    … sauerbraten was made on the cube 2 engine, and assault cube was made on cube 1… if you’re gonna act all experienced with these games you gotta get your facts straight

  4. {RN} said on February 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Urban Terror is def. #1 on my list. Realistic, Fast and they are still adding all the time.

  5. 8307c4 said on August 13, 2009 at 6:32 am

    The only problem with all of these, is the cheating.
    I dare say something like 9 out of 10 players cheat in some form or another,
    I don’t care what you want to call it, but at least half of all of them do cheat.

    This has completely ruined the online multiplayer experience for me,
    unfortunately the solution is simple, I no longer wish to associate myself
    with these folks.

  6. Dan said on May 10, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    joe, you obviously didn’t read much about sauerbraten, as it was not built on the engine of assaultcube (cube 1), but it was built on the cube 2 engine, a complete remake of the cube engine. thats why the graphics and game quality is so much better. If you had tried using the engine to build a map, you would notice that the engine is completely different from that of assaultcube.

  7. AimGuru said on February 19, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Urban Terror is the best free fps, It is fast as quake but have still reality weapons like CS

  8. alister said on January 15, 2009 at 9:34 am

    tremulous is another good OOS game from the Quake engine you guys should give it a go

  9. Penguino said on January 7, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Maybe you know it, or maybe not. But my favorite FPS is World of Padman. Maybe it’s a little silly :D but it’s wonderful. It’s based on the Quake 3 Arena engine, but it’s a standalone game.

    It’s avaliable for Windows, Linux and Mac.

  10. Arun Shivaram said on November 26, 2008 at 3:03 am

    Downloaded Assaultcube. going to try it now. Never tried a Open Source game before

  11. paul said on November 26, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Americas Army is not open-source, but is completely free and very, very good.

  12. Rupert said on November 25, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    To all those still playing ET, check out the BBA servers ( – one of the best out there – and if you are lucky I might also be on: ChairmanMao


  13. Joe said on November 25, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Ah, I did assume Wolfenstein: ET was still closed (I do actually play it!).

    As for other FPSes, there are so many it’s hard to cover.

    I think Warsow and Nexuiz actually use the same engine.

  14. Al Williams said on November 25, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Urban Terror is awesome and cross platform — I play it on Linux and there is a mac version.

  15. Rupert said on November 25, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I guess Joe might have passed by Wolfenstein: ET since it wasn’t originally Open Source. But I think recently the source code for the game was released, so it is now Open Source.

    I wrote a little review here:

    Defo the best free multiplayer game.

  16. G Thompson said on November 25, 2008 at 7:05 am

    You really forgot one of the best open Source engines. Aleph One which Bungie (yep the creators of Halo) released to open Source. Marathon and Infinity are the major games based on it and they can work under Win, Mac, Linux.

    here for Aleph One and the Scenarios etc.

    here for info on marathon itself (its really a scenario)

  17. Luis R said on November 25, 2008 at 3:48 am

    You forgot Alien Arena. By far, the best OSS quake style FPS game. Warsow and openarena are also great free OSS FPS games.

    1. phly95 said on September 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

      You also forgot Xonotic, the sequel to Nexuiz with better graphics and gameplay. It’s also better optimized to use hardware better (but can still lag on multiplayer)

  18. ETaddict said on November 25, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Wolfenstein Enemy Territory easily beats the above three mentioned games hands down any day.

    Please try & I’m sure you will enjoy it more than any other free FPS games.

    It is a team oriented game & has lot of mods including competitions, clan matches tournaments & it is ranked still in the top 15 most played online games in inspite of being as old as 5 years since its release.

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