If you are like us and have been gaming for over two decades, there are probably times you feel nostalgic. Yearning for the good old days of playing old-school gaming hits with your buddies at a nearby internet café or home LAN parties is completely normal; believe us — we’ve been there!
Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and that’s the harsh reality. However, that doesn’t mean we cannot look back at them with warmth in our hearts. They were, after all, an inseparable part of our growing up, weren’t they?
Of course, they were! And that is why we decided to honor those bygone days by taking a short trip down memory lane in this article. Today, we’ll look at some of the best retro first-person shooters all veteran gamers have fond memories of!
Although these timeless classics cannot compare to modern-day shooters in terms of gameplay and quality, they have a peculiar charm no new title can replicate. On top of that, these immortalized shooters have set the foundations for the genre’s further development. If it weren’t for these ambitious pioneers, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of the popular modern-day titles.
So buckle up, and let’s check out the six retro FPS games that started it all!
6 Retro First-Person Shooters All Old-School Gamers Are Nostalgic For
Here are our picks for the most iconic retro first-person shooters, from the oldest to the youngest:
1. Wolfenstein 3D (1992)
Wolfenstein 3D is special in many ways. For one, this game is one of the first widely popular FPS shooters and features over eight hours of gameplay! Second, this was the pioneer of the WW2 theme in shooters. That’s right — this game is one of the first in which you could let yourself loose upon dozens and dozens of Nazis! Last but not least, this game gave birth to an immortalized pop culture meme — Mecha Hitler!
Gameplaywise, Wolfenstein 3D was ahead of its time. The players played in the shoes of B.J. Blaskowitz, a soldier on a quest to escape Castle Wolfenstein and defeat the Nazi threat. This retro FPS features a variety of different weapons and enemies and even includes memorable boss fights. And as if it weren’t successful enough, Wolfenstein 3D gave birth to a long-lasting franchise that is still ongoing to this day!
Fun Fact: Wolfenstein: The New Order, one of the recent entries in the franchise, let’s players play a mission from Wolfenstein 3D in a dream sequence in-game as a homage to the game that started it all!
2. Doom (1993)
If you ask any retro FPS fan, they’re bound to agree that no first-person shooter from the 90s was as memorable as Doom. In a fairly young world of computer games, developers were still widely experimenting with game themes. The one who thought of making players face off against hordes of demons was an absolute genius!
Doom put a high emphasis on fast-paced combat, featured incredible sound effects and soundtrack, and took in-game animations to a whole new level. The game was so influential that it spawned a throng of sequels, the last of which came out just last year!
But don’t worry; the game’s most recent entries didn’t fully take the spotlight from the OG title! The original Doom still has an active and thriving speedrunning community, so you can still enjoy it and share your experiences with others if you wish. And if you’re feeling particularly competitive, why not try to beat Doom’s current speedrunning world record? You won’t believe how challenging that would be!
3. Heretic (1994)
In the wake of the Doom craze that followed the immense success of the OG demon-slaying FPS game came Heretic, a retro FPS shooter highly inspired by its predecessor. This title takes a different take on the FPS genre by placing it in a medieval setting.
What makes Heretic unique is its bold design, the sheer variety of weapons and enemies, and the aspiring elements of storytelling. Although this game wasn’t nearly as popular as some of our other entries, it’s well deserving of a mention!
4. Hexen (1995)
If you thought Heretic lacked anything, Hexen probably has you covered! This sequel to Heretic came just a year after its prequel but managed to fix many of the original’s flaws. At the same time, Hexen improved upon the graphics quality significantly while still managing to deliver an action-packed fantasy FPS.
While Doom’s dark and demonic atmosphere paved the way for more horror-oriented games, Hexen’s made a mark in a whole different genre — fantasy RPGs. Who would have thought that the roots of the world-famous fantasy RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series lie in such a small but unique retro first-person shooter?
5. Duke Nukem 3D (1996)
Duke Nukem 3D is like a bright light in the dark and gloomy world of retro first-person shooters. Why? Because it was the first game to introduce humor into the mix! Even though Duke Nukem 3D follows the same combat pattern, mechanics, and level design as its predecessors, it stands out from the crowd with its over-the-top and jokes and ambiance.
Old-school gamers have fond memories of Duke Nukem 3D and their mutant-killing adventures across its various environments. Unfortunately, unlike Doom, Duke Nukem’s later releases didn’t find success. Even though Duke Nukem Forever was a highly anticipated title, it fell short of its expectations. It’s sad to see that Duke Nukem’s humor didn’t age well, as the original game was undoubtedly the highlight of many people’s childhoods.
6. Quake (1996)
Quake represents the turning point in the retro first-person shooters as it takes the game engine Doom was built on and takes it to the next level! The Quake engine introduced real-time 3D rendering and multiplayer to this game. In fact, Quake is recognized as one of the first FP games that could put players up against their friends in a winner-takes-it-all deathmatch.
Although the core gameplay didn’t differ much from the other games on our list, Quake is perhaps one of the most influential. The innovations that this title brought to the FPS genre would pave the way for most modern-day multiplayer shooters. If you are one of the veterans who lived and played during Quake’s golden years, consider yourself lucky! This game has become an integral part of gaming history!
Did you play any of the titles on our list, or were they before your time as a gamer? Which ones did you like the most? Would you add any other iconic retro FPS game to the list? Let us know in the comments below!