First-person shooters have been around for a long time – longer than many people would think. The genre really took off around the time Wolfenstein 3D made its debut in 1992 before exploding in popularity a year later with DOOM. Over time, the genre was built up, expanded, and moulded to suit the modern audience.
That is, of course, until the core of what an FPS is, was lost. With the dawn of Half-Life old-school shooters became a rare sight. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the now aptly named “boomer shooter” is back with a vengeance. FPS distilled to its most perfect form, refined with modern engines and design. Here are 10 of the best games to release in this second golden age of lead-belching, cult-slaying, demon-destroying carnage.
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Zortch Maxinum Against The Alien Brainsuckers!
Zortch Maxinum Against The Alien Brainsuckers was released in June 2023 and is the most recent entry on our list, and since it made the cut, it’s also pretty darn excellent. It manages to combine a custom engine with hectic gameplay and a healthy dollop of comedy, and no, we didn’t misspell Maxinum.
You play as the eponymous Zortch and aliens have decided to abduct humans and munch on their brains. It’s up to you to run around secret-laden levels and blast these space-dwelling nerdowells before it’s too late. It’s fast, explosive, crunchy, and more than a little bit chunky, and we couldn’t get enough. Heck, it even has a demo, so you have no excuse not to give it a whirl.
Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance Of The Slayer
There is nothing quite like Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance Of The Slayer (again, we didn’t misspell anything – that’s what it’s called). The game originally began development in 1998 by a group of high schoolers and then seemingly got lost. It was unearthed and then finished in 2023, and boy, is it one wild ride.
Slayers X is a game that looks hideous, sounds awful, and has dialogue that oozes ’90s edgelord’. But you know what? It pulls it all off. The game is an over-the-top time capsule filled to the brim with toilet humour and concepts only a teenager could conjure. All of that aside, the game is also a mighty fine game with great combat, interesting weapons, and destructible environments very reminiscent of old Build Engine games.
Oh, and it has a demo AND is currency playable on Game Pass. Download it, love it, thank us later.
Dread Templar takes a few bold steps away from the classic boom shoot genre and introduces the idea of modularity. Not in level design, but in how you play. Dread Templar starts you off with your standard array of weapons, but by the time you’ve finished a few levels, you’ll likely have started to understand what the game expects of you.
Dread Templar wants you to create your own builds using Runes, and then use these whacky builds to destroy the fabric of reality. There are so many ways to play Dread Templar, and all of them are fun to dabble with and discover. Discover is the keyword there as so much of Dread Templar is hidden away behind secrets. A classic through and through.
Postal Brain Damaged
Postal Brain Damaged takes the utterly deranged Postal series by Running With Scissors and turns it into a full-fledged boomer shooter. It’s also amazing, in part thanks to the over-the-top narrative and world design held together by Postal Dude’s likeably unlikable personality.
The weapons are the highlight here, with auto-aiming pistols, double-barrel shotguns, a lightning gun that draws power from a disembodied brain, and a bow that fires 12 ft long “toys” with all the audio you’d expect from such a weapon. It’s whacky, it’s over the top, and it’s a great time from start to finish.
Surprise, surprise, the game also has a demo.
We briefly talked about the Build Engine a few entries back, and we are going to do so again. That’s because Ion Fury is built using that very engine (more or less). In fact, it is the highest-budget game in well over a decade to be released using it, and we are so happy it’s back. This is the engine that fuelled classics like Shadow Warrior, Blood, and Duke Nukem 3D.
Speaking of Duke, Ion Fury nods so heavily at the big man, that it could feasibly pass as a bobblehead at this point. The is outlandishly beautiful to look at, is wildly interactive, and has weapons so darn satisfying that you will never get tired of pulping an enemy with a blast of your grenade-launching shotgun. It’s one of the older games on this list, but it’s one of the best.
HROT has been kicking around in Early Access for a while, but it was finally released in 2023 with all three episodes ready to play. HROT is set in 1986 Czechoslovakia after an undisclosed disaster struck. You go from level to level fighting everything from soldiers to gorillas, and even the occasional eldritch horror – you know, like a sentient pommel horse.
HROT can feel depressing, even if its tongue is well and truly planted in its cheek. The desaturated browns of the world combined with the unshakably bleak ambience gives HROT a feel all of its own, and that is all backed by a wonderfully slick combat system that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Grab your can of blood and fat, kiss your portrait of Gustav, and get ready to fight god-knows-what.
You better believe it has a demo to boot.
If you are going to name your game ‘Turbo Overkill’, you better have a product that lives up to the inherent hype that surrounds it. As it turns out, Turbo Overkill not only passively inflates expectations by the sheer awesomeness of its title, but it also manages to live up to those expectations.
Turbo Overkill is a riot. It never really stops, and it keeps on adding new things to itself as you progress that somehow makes it crazier to experience. To put it into perspective, you are a guy who has a chainsaw for a leg, and that’s not even close to being the most awesome thing this game does. Turbo Overkill is fast, brutal, and a must-play for anyone looking for a good time.
Don’t take our word for it though, check out the demo.
CULTIC is a vibe – one that is intoxicating once you let it in. Unlike most of the games on this list, CULTIC isn’t trying to be over the top. What it is trying to do is deliver a deeply atmospheric near-horror-level experience where you just so happen to have access to some of the best feeling guns we’ve ever had the pleasure of handling.
CULTIC isn’t finished yet – in fact, only the first episode is available. But despite it being the shortest game on this list, it easily lands at number 3. Spending even a second looking at this game in motion should be enough to draw your attention, and actually playing it will sell you on its brilliance.
And wouldn’t you know? It has a demo too.
Amid Evil was one of the first boomer shooters to really make a mark on the burgeoning genre. Taking heavy inspiration from the likes of Quake and Hexen, Amid Evil delivers a staggering amount of combat and never lets up when it comes to quality. From start to finish, it’s awesome.
This is in part thanks to the ludicrous size of its enemy roster and unique lineup of weapons. Instead of guns, you have all manner of swords, staffs, and wands. Heck, you can even conjure black holes and launch planets at your enemies – what’s not like? The game just received DLC which just adds to the already titanic amount of content on offer here.
DUSK is everything I want in a boomer shooter. This game is what kickstarted the entire genre to return to prominence, and it does so by lying to your face. DUSK on a surface level, is one of the greatest FPS games of all time. Every game on this list is outstanding, but to us, DUSK stands alone.
Lightning fast movement, incredible gunplay, and truly unmatched level design. DUSK tricks you into thinking it is just a retro throwback, and then consistently pulls the rug from under you time and time again. Where DUSK starts, is not where DUSK ends, and every step towards that conclusion is an absolute joy.
That’s all we have on boomer shooters for now. Be sure to check out our other lists and guides for more FPS content.