Meck’s Definitive Looter-Shooter Tier List Of 2019, Possibly*

At the start of the year, I began what became a recurring non-official segment on dia.log – The Gamer Matters Podcast. I decided to try out all of the major looter-shooter releases of 2019, where apparently there were quite a few.

Yes, the meme trend of making tier lists have died- but my bit began and outlast the meme, apparently. Step aside Justin Wong, here’s my Definitive Looter-Shooter Tier List Of 2019, Possibly*.

*by definitive, that means “purely personal opinion with various preferences and biases so of course it’s not objective, silly”

D Tier


Time played: Not even enough to finish the Origin Free Trial because it’s not worth it

Oh boy. The game that actually kick-started this bit, Anthem actually caught me by surprise. Because all the pre-release marketing stuff led me to believe there’s no substance to it other than Iron Man suits fly really good and a familiar Mass Effect Andromeda-style combat.

I went with low expectations only to be impressed by how solid it was to pilot the Javelins, navigate the world and shoot stuff. Relatively solid- I have a soft spot with Mass Effect Andromeda’s combat which probably explains why.

But when the game is released in full, the facade shatters like thin glass. The loot is terrible, with perks that are either underwhelmingly mediocre or plain useless rolls. The combat is flashy but monotonous and samey.

The story and world-building are abysmally boring- and this is made by Bioware! Not B-team Bioware, the A-Team Bioware Edmonton!

The best thing from Anthem is that you get a full-colour swathe for customisation, compared to other games where this is either limited through consumables or monetised in some way.

It’s a terrible looter-shooter by design as it was trying really, really hard to distance itself from Destiny. Yet it ended up being so much compared to Destiny, but fails in almost every way.

And speak of the devil…

C Tier

Destiny 2

Time played: 100+ hours on Steam, 20+ hours on PS4

I was excited when the makers of Halo is doing a multi-platform title which is pretty much Borderlands but with more restrained world and aesthetics. But it never grabbed me. The shooting was good but nothing exciting. The plot sounds interesting- I like the idea of a sci-fi look but the story is all high-fantasy tropes- but never really grabbed me. The loot looks cool but not as extravagant as I expected. Borderlands really spoilt me.

And I don’t like the idea of paying money for what is a non-stop grind of maybe-some-okay loot drops.

Destiny 1 and 2 was sitting in the D Tier for a long while, until they made Destiny 2 free-to-play recently. Rather than give out the exact game (which Bungie has done repeatedly over the years) and expect new players to make the journey and completing the base campaign, they’ve retooled the whole game.

The campaigns, with story beats that a new player could care less with no attachment, are now optional, legacy content. The activities that kept Destiny veterans coming back day in day out is made front and center. After some loosely guided tasks, you get to engage the game as the veterans do- a hobby shooter. Have some free time? Log in, do a couple of bounties, feel good about seeing some rewards drop, log out. Rinse and repeat.

This change finally made Destiny clicked with me. Alongside the seamless cross-save ability, I’ve spent quite the hours on the treadmill for shiny loot. Logging in and getting some daily or weekly bounties done is satisfying, and there’s enough variety of content like PvP to keep things fresh. I always log out of the game feeling I’ve accomplished something, which is a great feeling.

That being said, I still do not like a lot of the things Destiny 2 is doing right now. The monetisation is both aggressive and unappealing. RM22 for an emote when you can spend RM43 for a battle pass does not sound like a good proposition. And their first season using this new battle pass model was… underwhelming, to say the least. The line where free players get content and where you need to pony up for the two expansions or the current battle pass is murky in a bad way.

The longer-term pursuits (quests) will make you change up your playstyle (which is good, again, to keep things fresh) but also force you to engage in something you don’t like just because a shiny, better gun is the carrot on the stick. Do you like to subjugate doing chores you don’t like but you have to because the carrot on that stick is the meta gun right now? Too bad, you’re missing out.

If Destiny 2 somehow offers me a good value when I want to throw them money, maybe this will rank a bit higher. Destiny is more of the well-rounded of the looter-shooters with the most breadth of content style, given this is more of an MMO-lite shooter. And it’s more of a shooter than a looter, and I rate the loot higher in this tier list, which Destiny could not keep up with.

That all being said, I still don’t mind logging in just to see numbers go up. But less so now that I’ve almost caught up with all the content from the free base game.

B Tier

The Division 2

Time played: Less than 10 hours (beta and Free Weekends only)

I have gone on record on dia.log of my issues with Tom Clancy’s The Division. To my surprise, The Division 2 addresses a lot of these gripes to make the 3rd-person cover-based, military-themed looter-shooter to be decent. They’ve made the semantic change of everyone having armour by default. Which explains why everyone can be bullet sponges while taking a whole clip of an M4 to the body. The world-building is immaculately filled with little details that make the rather drab and boring-looking Washington D.C. more alive than it should. The set-piece missions are also fun with cool moments.

Division 2 also added endgame content from the get-go, with a lot of stuff veteran looter-shooter fans wanted in the first place. And free updates out of the wazoo.

Granted, I spent not that much time of The Division 2- I played it during the free weekend offers. And I have heard that some pockets of the fanbase do not like the current state of the game.

That being said, The time I did put in was a good one, much much better than the original game. And due to that, it ranks at a respectable B Tier.

A Tier

Borderlands 3

Time played: More than 50 hours since the review

This was an easy choice, apparently. But let’s get this out of the way. Borderlands 3 is by no means a revelation or a must-play game for any gamer this year. And what the heck, how can they under-deliver the main plot in such a way that made the pre-release speculations much more interesting than what we got. Borderlands 2 has its moments, but it’s not a high bar to clear- what happened?

But more Borderlands in a world where, in my opinion, games that try to be looter-shooters but shot short of greatness, the OG is still the best. Characters with a wide selection of skills that opens up to various builds. Weapons that shoot really good in general, especially the shotguns this time. A wild selection of rare loot. Sure the bazillion of green, blue and purple guns fall into very clear archetypes when you actually examine them, but if you go a bit further and put in the time to get the gold legendary weapons, it’s mostly worth it. Just to see the wild gimmicks they have.

I would be stupid if I say I want another Borderlands with only another slight bump of new features and improvements as Borderlands 3 is now that we have this. But not many looter-shooters are at Borderlands level to begin with. I weigh how cool and game-changing/breaking your builds and loot very heavily in my looter-shooters, and to no surprise, Borderlands sits here.

But there is one other game though…

S Tier


Time played this year: 200+ hours

Warframe is the game that I tried once, and didn’t bother because of how deeply complex it feels at first glance. But it’s the sort of game that rewards you for putting in the time to understand what it wants out of you. After reaching what most of the community refer to as the end of the tutorial- the ending of The Second Dream quest- everything clicks really hard. From 20 hours of playtime, after that moment it went to 200+.

Warframe makes you overpowered from the get-go. You feel strong, mowing down hundreds of mobs in a few seconds by mashing buttons, and only gets stronger. While the gear you acquire (not counting mods) are not random, they are still desirable. If you love to min-max your builds, Warframe will feel right at home. And while the slightly disturbing aesthetic of the space ninjas can be off-putting for some (I was too for a long time), you’ll discover how cool and unique this aesthetic is compared to its genre brethren.

The world-building, while slow, is actually very well delivered. The cinematic quests are amazingly captivating. Maybe it’s because you don’t really get much story outside of this handful of missions. But somehow they ease you to it and make you care. That one plot twist, should you still not be spoiled of it, is such a strong moment. Which is possibly why I kept playing right after.

And the game is not going to stop updating anytime soon. This year has seen quite the content draught, understandably so as they added pilotable space ships so you can play sort-of Sea Of Thieves in space. And there’s already two gargantuan open worlds with various things to do. A free battle pass to keep you coming. And most of the content is free. There are paid cosmetics and hard-to-obtain better gear that’s easily attainable by buying upfront. But these are so, so cheap. The paid currency can be bought with discounts if you’re lucky enough to get that as a login bonus.

Warframe is a free-to-play game that I easily want to throw money (because I can throw small amounts of it and still get good stuff), have possibilities to make overpowered builds, and have very desirable (and attainable) loot with very little commitment needed.

Warframe may not be your poster-child of a looter-shooter. You can argue that it might not be one given that gear don’t have random stats. But by my personal definition, it is one and it’s a great one. Assuming you are willing to give it a good chance.

And that’s the list. I am by no means a looter-shooter expert in general. I’m just an expert within the site by default. Should there be significant changes in these games the tier list may evolve in 2020. But as 2019 comes to a close, this is the definitive* list.

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