As March 20 quickly approaches, fans across all gaming systems are excitedly preparing for the next bloody, Hell-razing installment of one of the most beloved franchises of the decade:
Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
We’re obviously kidding, but the many memes about the simultaneous release dates promise an incredible balance between Animal Crossing’s chill and wholesome fun and DOOM’s high-octane destruction. We’re all looking forward to seeing what DOOM Eternal will bring to the series following the success of DOOM (2016). In honor of the upcoming release, I’ve chosen DOOM as the latest subject of our Games Ranked series.
Keep reading for a ranking of DOOM games from worst to best!
Doom Games Ranked
Starting with #6, let’s work our way down to the #1 best Doom game ever made.
6. Final DOOM
Final DOOM acts as a standalone game in the DOOM series, consisting of two non-canon storylines: Evilution and Plutonia Experiment. TNT: Evilution follows the Doomguy as the sole survivor of a demon attack on his Jupiter moon base, killing demons in his promise to avenge his fallen troops. The Plutonia Experiment follows the invasion of Earth by the forces of Hell, with Doomguy working alone to close the final Hellgate in hopes of sealing the bridge between dimensions once and for all.
The gameplay remains relatively similar to that of DOOM (1993) — which we’ll discuss in further detail later — though the difficulty for the PlayStation release is notably lowered from its PC version. This was primarily due to technical constraints on some of the mechanics and enemies, meaning that the PlayStation version also has fewer levels despite the improved graphics.
The game has been criticized for its lack of improvement on DOOM (1993), with some critics saying that it could have simply been an expansion pack with new levels. Others enjoyed the intricate level design, but claimed that the game engine was outdated at the time of release and had issues surrounding frame rate and control.
- Release Date: June 17, 1996
- System(s): PC, PlayStation
5. DOOM (1993)
DOOM (1993) is the first installment of the DOOM series, a franchise that would go on to define the FPS genre and stand in the midst of the controversy surrounding violent video games. The game follows an anonymous space marine (known to players simply as “Doomguy”) through several episodes and levels of demon-slaying. The game has a significant focus on combat, with very few plot elements and a basic narrative structure.
The original DOOM is known for its combination of 3D level design and 2D sprites. Players must fight through large groups of enemies that use both ranged and melee attacks while managing resources/power-ups and avoiding environmental hazards like acid pits and moving ceilings. The game also features cooperative and deathmatch multiplayer modes, compatible with up to four players.
DOOM (1993) quickly became a phenomenon, with so many players logging on during work hours that offices had to develop policies to prohibit gameplay during work. The game was criticized for its simplistic gameplay, but praised for its overall design and player engagement.
- Release Date: December 10, 1993
- System(s): MS-DOS
4. DOOM II: Hell on Earth
DOOM II: Hell on Earth is a direct sequel to DOOM (1993), with the events of the game taking place immediately after the first. Doomguy returns to Earth to find that the demons have invaded the planet, so he works with the survivors to send the remainder of humanity into space. As the last human on Earth, Doomguy must close the portals and face a whole new realm of Hell.
There were very few changes between DOOM II and its predecessor, with the development team focusing more on larger and more intricate level design. Gameplay is no longer split into multiple episodes, so players are able to build upon their inventory throughout the game and focus more on the overarching story.
Critics were pleased with the lack of changes from DOOM (1993), saying that the game simply built upon the aspects that made the original DOOM so great. It wasn’t seen as widely revolutionary for the series, but simply more of the same for fans.
- Release Date: October 10, 1994
- System(s): MS-DOS, PC
3. DOOM 3
DOOM 3 is a reboot to the series, standing independently of the events of the previous games. This time, players join Doomguy on Mars as he fights through waves of demons that have overtaken a military research facility. The game was later given two expansions — DOOM 3: Resurrection and DOOM 3: BFG Edition, which contains a remaster of the first three games and the Resurrection expansion pack in addition to its own expansion on the story.
DOOM 3 gives players a more story-driven campaign, adding NPCs that provide information and items. The game also features four multiplayer deathmatch modes that support up to eight players, along with a two-player co-op mode. The subsequent expansions add a few additional gameplay features, including Resurrection’s “Grabber” and “Artifact” that improve item and environment interaction, as well as a handful of new weapons and enemy types.
DOOM 3 and its expansions received mixed-to-positive reviews. Critics enjoyed the expanded story but criticized the lack of changes to the overall gameplay, saying that the numbers-based combat didn’t reflect the game’s full potential.
- Release Date: August 3, 2004
- System(s): PC
2. DOOM 64
DOOM 64 returns to the events of the original series, predating the DOOM 3 reboot. After the military pumps the moons of Jupiter with radiation in an effort to kill off the remaining demons, a mysterious entity makes it past their sensors undetected and begins resurrecting the creatures of Hell. The player (now a different Doomguy) is the sole survivor of a containment team, and is tasked with taking out the beast and the undead demons.
Gameplay remains relatively similar to that of the first two DOOM games, with minor changes made to the engine to work better with the Nintendo 64. The game introduces a few minor aesthetic changes to sprites and weapons, and introduces the “Unmaker” laser gun in its only official appearance.
DOOM 64 received largely positive reviews, and it’s cited as the most visually-pleasing installment to date. Level designs were made even more labyrinthian than before, making the game a hit even beyond the original DOOM’s console ports.
- Release Date: March 31, 1997
- System(s): Nintendo 64
1. DOOM (2016)
DOOM (2016), originally titled DOOM 4, is yet another reboot to the franchise. Players once again resume the role of Doomguy, this time following a demon invasion of a Martian research facility. In an effort to drive away the forces of Hell, a researcher unleashes the Doom Slayer from the sarcophagus where he’s been imprisoned to reclaim the facility and close the portal to Hell.
The gameplay of DOOM (2016) more closely resembles that of the first two installments, returning to a faster-paced slaughter-fest in place of a slower horror pace. The game also introduces a new mechanic called “Glory Kills,” in which players can perform melee executions on enemies that have sustained enough damage.
DOOM (2016) was seen as a successful return to form, and received largely positive reviews. Though the eventual Switch port wasn’t as highly optimized as the other consoles, it was still well-received by critics.
- Release Date: May 13, 2016
- System(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The Future of DOOM
With these rankings in mind, we have high hopes for DOOM Eternal when it’s released later this month. Early reviews of the game show that it bears a closer aesthetic resemblance to the original games, with a few options added for more streamlined gameplay.
Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed our ranking of the DOOM games. Please feel free to leave a comment, and check out some of High Ground’s other gaming roundups.