Let’s Rank All The Doom Games, From Worst To Best

Let’s Rank All The Doom Games, From Worst To Best
Image: Id / Bethesda / Kotaku

1993’s Doom is one of the most important, popular, and influential games ever made, and it spawned a whole franchise of (mostly) great shooters. To put it another way: Doom is very good. But even the best franchises have high points and low points.

Before we jump into hell and start killing demons, a bit of housekeeping. For this list we’re only ranking the original games and not DLC and expansion packs, though we have factored them into the overall ranking. So while the new Doom Eternal DLC is nearly big enough to be its own game, it doesn’t get a separate entry. We also are only ranking commercially released games, and original versions rather than ports, such as Doom 3 on PSVR.

With that out of the way, grab your shotguns and keycards, we’ve got some Doom games to rank.

10. Doom: Resurrection (2009)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda / Moby Games Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda / Moby Games

It feels a little mean to place this game all the way at the bottom because it’s not bad, it’s just part of a very good franchise. Doom: Resurrection was developed for iPhones and is a rail shooter set during the events of Doom 3. At the time it was visually impressive, but today it looks like a mess. Still, a neat little spin-off that plays fine on mobile devices.

9. Doom VFR (2017)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

Doom in VR can work. I’ve played fan mods and official releases, like Doom 3 on PSVR, that prove that Doom’s fast action can translate well to virtual reality. But Doom VFR isn’t a great example of this. Set during the events of Doom 2016, it looks nice and has some great tracks. But the VR controls feel clunky and the action is toned down in a way that robs the game of the excitement normally found in Doom shooters.

8. Doom RPG / Doom II RPG (2005 / 2009)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda / Moby Games Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda / Moby Games

Doom RPG and Doom II RPG were released for mobile phones, with the original RPG being released in 2005 for old-school flip phones. Its sequel would release in 2009 for newer phones like the Blackberry and iPhone. The games told a similar story to Doom 3, but were essentially their own thing. What’s interesting is how they play: like classic turn-based dungeon crawlers. This might seem like a weird fit, but it worked surprisingly well and was a great way to get some Doom action on the go before tech like the Switch and smartphones actually made that feasible. (Yes, Doom was on Gameboy Advance, but in a fairly degraded state.)

7. Final Doom (1996)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

Final Doom offered yet more Doom II. It was developed by two teams of fan modders and then released commercially by id as a big pack of 64 new levels. On one hand, more Doom II is a good thing. On the other, Final Doom was incredibly hard. Even today, some levels in Final Doom will challenge expert players on harder difficulties. Not all of the maps are great either. Still, as I said, more Doom II is a good thing and for players hungry for more difficult levels, Final Doom was a pleasant diversion.

6. Doom 3 (2004)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

I know that ranking Doom 3 this high is already causing some people to grind their teeth and shake their heads. I’m sorry for the stress, but I like Doom 3. It’s not as fast or action-packed as what came before or what would follow, but as its own game, it’s a scary good time. I’ll even defend its shotgun. While not the best id shotgun, it works and drops demons most of the time. Besides, it’s better than the awful Quake 4 shotgun! If you do play Doom 3 in 2021, I’d give the various official and unofficial VR ports of the game a shot, as it feels perfectly suited for virtual reality.

5. Doom 64 (1997)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

For a long time I never played Doom 64. It looked weird and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But over the last few years people kept hyping it up and so when it was officially ported to modern consoles and PC in 2020 I was surprised by what I found. Doom 64 is a completely new game, not just a port of Doom to the N64. The updated engine, art style, and new levels combine to create something that feels both familiar and fresh. If you love the classic Doom games, but never played Doom 64, give it a shot. It’s like a weird hidden Doom entry you’ve never played.

4. Doom Eternal (2020)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

You might be thinking to yourself, “Shouldn’t it be higher?” But while Doom Eternal was one of my favourite games of 2020, it felt far more bloated than the 2016 reboot it built off of. The additional focus on lore and storytelling also got in the way of the solid, fast demon-killing action I want out of a Doom game. So while I am very happy Doom Eternal exists, I’m ready for a new spin on the franchise.

3. Doom (1993)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

It might not be the original first-person shooter, but it might as well be considering how many FPS games released after Doom just copied it entirely. For a time in the ‘90s, first-person shooters weren’t even called first-person shooters, but instead “Doom Clones.” What’s impressive about Doom is that going back to the game in 2021 it still holds up. It’s still a blast to mow down hordes of enemies with the chaingun or dodge imps’ fireballs while charging them with your trusty shotgun. Doom’s only major issue is its limited roster of enemies. This problem would be solved in Doom II.

2. Doom II (1994)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

A sequel to Doom didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, Doom II smartly tweaks a few things and adds just enough to create a better game. Doom II adds some new enemies, like the bastardly Heavy Weapon Dude, and adds the glorious Super Shotgun. Can one additional gun really improve a game that much? Most guns can’t. The Super Shotgun ain’t like most guns. It, plus the improved enemy variety, make Doom II the better game. But not the best Doom game.

1. Doom (2016)

Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda Screenshot: id Software / Bethesda

The Doom reboot released in 2016 is just about as close to a perfect game as I’ve played. If you ignore the so-so multiplayer, which I forgot even existed until I looked it up, Doom 2016 is a lean, mean, demon-killing machine. It adds enough to the classic formula to make it feel new and improved but doesn’t get too bogged down in lore or extraneous features like its 2020 follow-up.

The combat in Doom 2016 is a wonderful balance of speed, brutality, and puzzle-solving. Picking off the right enemies in the correct order becomes an important and fun dance of blood and guts on higher difficulties. The chainsaw is now a weapon that gets you ammo, and the “glory kill” system isn’t some annoying gimmick, but a smart way to give the player more tools to deal with huge hordes of baddies.

In a lot of ways, I still wish I got a true sequel to Doom 2016 instead of the bigger, more arcadey Eternal. I’d love a follow-up more like Doom II, adding just enough to elevate the original game, without changing too much and breaking stuff.

— — –

We will get more Doom games. Few things in life are as certain as this. One day a new Doom game will be released, then you’ll pay your taxes, and then you’ll die and I’m fine with that reality.

The Doom franchise has been consistently great. Even the low points like Doom 3 or Doom VFR aren’t outright awful, just lesser in comparison to the other games. So while fans continue to mod and port Doom games to every platform with a screen, I’ll be patiently maiming yet more hordes of demons and waiting for the franchise’s next major reinvention. I’m not done ripping and tearing. Not even close.

Comments

  • I agree with the Doom 2016/ Eternal thing. Eternal just didn’t scratch that Doom itch like 2016 did.

    I am one of the dozens who absolutely loved Doom 3.

    • Yeah, I couldn’t disagree more.

      Doom Eternal took Doom 2016 and actually made you WORK for the feeling of being badass. Doom 2016 made you an unstoppable killing machines, whereas Doom Eternal forced you to become one.

      For every complaint I see about people not liking Doom Eternal or thinking its design is “worse”, or whatever complaint, all I see is someone who wanted to be gifted their power fantasy from Doom 2016 again. I don’t want Doom to be like Call of Duty, where every game is just the same with a slightly adjusted coat of paint. I want Doom to actually push the envelope.

      Doom 2016 was the kick in the groin to remind all the other competitors – SEE, THIS is how you make a classical shooter re-imagined for the modern era.
      Doom Eternal then followed up with a baseball to the nads – SEE, THIS is how you adapt to modern design sensibilities to demand adaptation, creativity and flexibility, rather than a single dominant strategy of “SEE DEMON, MURDER DEMON WITH SUPER SHOTGUN”.

      • ^ This – The only complaint that comes to mind is that you only get the sentinel hammer in the second DLC, and immediately thought about how awesome it would be to have it through the entire game.

  • The OG Doom for me.

    I just feel like Doom (and more for me personally, Duke Nukem) is one of those series that was best when it was low-res and existed in a time when it was distinctly “adult.” Blown up into these Bethesda hard-rock brown-hued “high-adrenaline” reboots, it just washes over me as an overstimulated insult to my sense.

    2016 was fun for the first third because the level design was smart and bridged from the old games with great consistency, then the overwhelming-enemies-in-a-locked-room with slamming music took over. And I tried Eternal a few days ago and tapped out in less than an hour.

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