This industry is shifting away from the torrent of beige-colored military shooters that followed the success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now, once again, the DOOM franchise is at the helm of the first-person shooter.
The series changed everything in 1993 with the release of the original game; and Id and Bethesda similarly set a new president for modern FPS with DOOM Eternal in 2020.
The concept of the ‘Boomer Shooter’ was born — a new (old) sub-genre harkening back to the days without reloading, regenerating health, or chest high walls. There are now a ton of new games being built around these old-school, DOOM-style mechanics, and in this list, we’re showcasing our top 10!
#10 Beyond Sunset
- Platforms: PC
Between the DOOM Slayer, Duke Nukem, and Lo Wang, we’ve controlled some pretty badass characters over the years. Lucy, the cyborg samurai protagonist of Beyond Sunset, naturally fits the bill.
This cyberpunk fever dream has you slicing and blasting through an onslaught of zombies and Yakuza henchmen, and if that wasn’t enough, the game cleverly weaves in Deus-Ex style RPG elements. Tastefully adorned in a technicolour retro aesthetic, Beyond Sunset packages everything we love about the genre with some extra depth and nuance.
It’s an unrelenting, high-octain treat for the senses, and once you’ve sliced your first foe, you’ll be hooked.
#9 Amid Evil
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Merging the fantasy thrills of Hexen with the power of raytracing, Indefatigable’s Amid Evil is one of the most aesthetically pleasing shooters we’ve seen in recent times.
The game’s lavish, labyrinthine environments glisten with pixelated finesse to make for a brilliantly distinct art style – and the combat is as the ’90s as it gets.
A satisfying arsenal of fantasy weapons — alongside an onslaught of deadly demonic knights to use them on — will ensure your finger is firmly pressed down on the left mouse button the whole time. There might not be any traditional firearms to speak of, but this is assuredly a textbook boomer shooter.
- Platforms: PC
The pre-release trailers had us suitably stoked for ULTRAKILL, and it more than delivered when it was released in 2020.
High-speed, fluid movement paired with DOOM Eternal-style combat loops make for a thrill like no other. You’ll heal yourself by cathartically dowsing yourself in enemy blood – and it doesn’t get much more boomer-shooter than that.
A colour pallet of reds, oranges and yellows provides a minimalist visual feast, and the Titan Fall-style wall running mechanics add a parkour element that we haven’t really seen anywhere else. Perfect if you’re looking for a bit of stylistic flair in your FPS games.
#7 Ion Fury
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
You’d be remiss for thinking you’re playing a Duke Nukem 3D mod when you first launch Ion Fury, but although the game runs on the same now 26-year-old, it is an entirely new venture.
The game is a brutally challenging FPS experience and features some of the most fluid pixel art animations on the market. Between ludicrously chaotic boss battles and corridors of bullet hell, there aren’t many modern shooters that capture the original spirit of ID’s masterpiece more than this! It’s great to see new life being breathed into old engines, and so far as authenticity goes, this is the real deal!
#6 Shadow Warrior 3
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Anyone familiar with shooters of the 1990s will remember Shadow Warrior – whether it was the crass humor, duel-uzi wielding, or the interminable fight against waves of demons, the series held its own against the heavy hitters.
The third game in the series was released earlier this year, and Developer Flying Wild Hog managed to preserve the entire look, feel, and atmosphere of the originals whilst decorating it with all the mod cons of the modern FPS. The game draws heavily from DOOM Eternal’s mechanics, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing; combat is faster and more fluid than ever, and the degree of FPS carnage is suitably turned up to 11 the whole way through.
Lo Wang’s signature one liners are also back in full force, making for a cathartic, tounge-in-cheek alternative to DOOM Eternal.
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
Dusk leans into the tropes of the boomer shooter genre very heavily, and we love it for that.
With decidedly drab colours and a grim, 80s horror tone, the game feels like the love child of Quake and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Dual-wielding shotguns never felt better, and by throwing some inventive puzzles into the mix, the game gives you a breather from its ordinarily break-neck pace.
In true spirit, you can even pixilated the graphics to give the crude blockiness of the era. It’s thoroughly self-aware or its heritage, and we love it for that!
#4 Forgive Me, Father
- Platforms: PC
Lovecraftian horror certainly isn’t anything new in video games (or even within the FPS genre), but don’t let that fool you; With its uncharacteristically haunting story and comic-book style graphics, forgive Me Father is one of the most unique shooters to release in recent years.
Aside from brilliantly impactful shooting, the game sets itself apart with its deep, varied skill trees. As a result, no two playthroughs are ever the same; you’ll get the bug for repeatedly running through the game’s blood-soaked halls as soon as you start playing.
#3 Project Warlock
- Platforms: PC
Project Warlock sets itself apart from the pack by introducing arcade elements to the genre: there are a set number of lives, no quick saves, and enemies display red health bars above their heads.
When matched with the game’s pseudo-3D 8-bit visuals, the game provides a thrilling romp through some of the most varied-level designs we’ve seen in the genre. You’ll slay demons in hell to Antarctica and medieval caves to urbanized sprawls, and you’re constantly offered new ways to play thanks to a well-structured levelling system.
It’s easy to look at screenshots for the game and pass it off as another pixel-art-style indie arcade game, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
#2 Bullet Storm
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
In many ways, Bullet Storm brought the themes of the 1990s FPS back to the modern era before DOOM did.
With ultra-satisfying, limitless combos, and the simple yet crucial inclusion of the Energy Whip, People Can Fly’s off-the-wall entry into the genre was and still is, one of the most addictive shooter experiences on the market; we’ve never had quite so much fun in a game as we had booting an enemy into a cactus in slow motion!
Fans never did get a sequel, but the ‘Full Clip’ remastered edition brought the game back into the limelight for you to enjoy today.
- Platforms: PC, Saturn, N64, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
If DOOM created it, Quake supplanted it.
Most of the modern FPS titles that owe their allegiance to DOOM also owe it to Quake: there’s no other game that did more for the conventions of both single and multiplayer FPS than ID’s seminal Lovecraftian funhouse.
The game’s ferocious yet tactical gunplay is in a leuage of its own, and as is also the case with DOOM, it’s still just as fun today as it’s ever been. Thanks to an excellent visual remastering earlier this year, the horrifying aesthetics have never looked better, either. If you’re an FPS fan, playing through Quake is a rite of passage at this point, and there’s never been a better time to play it!