The Compleat Retro Shooter thread

Enough of this scattershot crap. The time has come for one Retro Shooter Thread To Rule Them All.

There is a renaissance happening. The Gen X’ers remember a time when “first person shooter” meant “run fast, and shoot things in the face”. No chest-high walls. No regenerating health. No quest arrows. No glacial movement speeds. No endless expository elements. Just you, your WSAD and mouse, and your twitch skills.

Doom (2016) is not part of this renaissance. Nor is Doom Eternity. Some claim they are throwbacks to shooters of yore, but they are not. They are shooters as viewed through the vaseline-smeared lenses of millennials who expect shooters to have mechanics beyond shooting monsters and not being shot in return.

Dusk (2018) is exceptional. It is fan-service-y as hell to Gen X’ers for one, starting right off the bat with the various graphic options. The presentation is deliberately and unironically retro. And it moves like a cat with a cattle prod applied to its ass. You move, and you shoot. Also, notably, you do not simply run backwards; unlike Serious Sam and its braindead open arenas, Dusk puts you in locations that have actually been designed to impact your play and make you respond accordingly.

And all of the weapons are projectiles. No hitscan bullshit. Which means the player must dodge projectiles. The monsters are a little meh, reminding me more of Blood rejects, but act like they should (meaning you can hitlock them with fast-firing weapons).

Blocky, chunky, and gibby. Dusk is what all of us thought Quake would be in 2020 when a 4MB 3dFX ruled our world.

Rating: 4.5/5. (.5 taken off simply because Dusk is not System Shock. No games are.)

I want to try Amid Evil next after I finish Dusk.

Ion Maiden/Storm/ChinChin/whatever is not as exceptional. First of all, its a Build engine throwback. Now, I know that eDuke32 have done amazing things with the old girl… but the old girl was a kludge to begin with. There’s retro (aesthetic) like Dusk, and then there’s old and busted.

Anyway, Ion Maiden is what happens when an engine’s been out for the better part of 25 years. Add some talented designers to that, and you get a pretty nice throwback shooter. Lots of color, lots of gimmicks, and fairly solid shootery. The expected jokes and one-liners are lame, and not ironically lame, just lame. The monsters are, well, dull. I guess they’re cyborgs or something. And they hitscan. Hitscan is such a fucking crutch.

Rating: 3/5. You wanted more super-competent Duke 3D levels in 2020, and you got them. Except you don’t get Duke, or the shrink ray, or stuff like that. And it’s the straight-up Build engine, not a modern engine posing as an old one.

Let’s see, what else.

Ziggurat is cursed with being to ahead of its time. If were released, say, within the last couple of years, I think it would be relevant. It almost falls off the cliff by including upgrades, but, hey, the old Hexen/Heretic sequels did that shit too, so it’s fine, and it doesn’t interrupt things too much. It definitely falls down with the whole “ARA ARA I’M A ROGUELIKE” bullshit that took the world by storm in the naughties. This means samey arena fights in a limited set of arenas. But at least they’re blocky and small enough not to succumb to Serious Sam S-key syndrome. And, if I remember correctly, there’s no hitscan crap.

Rating: 2.5/5. Servicable, decent shooting in bite-size packages, brought down by the usual “ha ha RNG says fuck you” ROUGELIEK RNG masquerading as design.

Alright, I’m said my piece for the moment, and I should be working instead of typing this crap up which brings me no money. That being said, what modern throwback shooters are you enjoying ATM?

I like that word, compleat. For the longest time I thought it wasn’t a real word, just someone trying to do something punny like the Beatles’ intentional misspelling of their band name. Come to think of it, there should probably be a greatest hits compilation released called The Compleat Beatles. Seems like a missed opportunity.

As for retro shooters, I actually have gone back to the original Doom, as I do every so often. I remember discovering the shareware version in college, hogging my roommate’s PC so I could steal some time with it. It’s still one of my all-time favorite games, nothing else has come quite close to it for a complete (compleat?) experience. But while I did play Doom 2, I didn’t really get into too many other wad releases, no Plutonia Experiment or Final Doom. Maybe I should look into those.

In this way lies madness. These maps are not intended for enjoyment. They are cock-measuring devices. The measure cocks by stretching them out farther than they are intended to go. This is painful, not pleasurable.

Look up “civvie11” and “plutonia experiment” on YouTube for the best discussion regarding this.

I enjoy Dusk quite a bit, but I REALLY got into Amid Evil. I just love the art and setting so much.

I’ll have more to say on this topic layer when I’m not as short on time as I am now.

I didn’t enjoy Dusk as much as I was hoping (mostly because I run out of ammo after the first level), and I really couldn’t get into Amid Evil. And so after buying those two games at full price, I backed off, thinking maybe this trend of Retro shooters isn’t for me.

What I DID enjoy, however, was a couple of years ago replaying the original Quake. I had a great time.

And more recently, MachineGames released an Episode for Quake. I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, but I’ve been having a great time playing that on and off. It is way better than Amid Evil or Dusk, IMHO.

Quake episode link:

(Extract that into it’s own directory in Quake’s directory and run the batch file).

All right, I am going to get this off my chest - I have never liked Quake. It’s always seemed odd to me that when people criticize many games (Gears of War, for instance) for their near-monochromatic color schemes, I hardly ever hear people talk about Quake just being various shades of brown. The look of the game was always dull as (literally) dishwater to me. I didn’t think the enemies were interesting, the only weapon I thought was fun to play with was the grenade launcher, and I still don’t really understand how I beat the final boss.

That said, I did like Quake 2 and Quake 4, and Quake Arena was a lot of fun though I sucked at it.

Quake did two things:

  • Introduced true 3D to FPSes. (Yes, I know Future Shock et. al. came first, but Future Shock was basically Daggerfall’s 3D bits shoved together)

  • Slowed down the pacing of the entire genre. This has both good and bad points.

Even when I played it, years ago, when only half my hair was grey, I found the SP dull. Duke 3D uber Quake, baby! I much more enjoyed QuakeWorld and playing against bots.

I suppose for my retro needs I want circle-strafing, herding, and weapon/resource considerations. I believe this is an effect from playing too much The Division 2

I would have agreed with you up to a few years ago. I never got the love for Quake. I much preferred Descent, and my brothers preferred Duke Nukem 3D. But it turns out a lot of people knew the secret to enjoying Quake: you could activate mouselook using a console command. That’s why I recently replayed it, using mouselook and a more modern engine, and really found it to be enjoyable.

Quake 4 is definitely the best of the series though, I think. Definitely Raven Software’s best game, I think.

Was that a secret? I can’t imagine playing Quake without mouselook.

I didn’t know about it. Neither did anyone I knew at the time. I played it without and hated it.

Huh. I can’t think of a “favorite” Raven game. Definitely not Quake 4, though.

Maybe JKII? Raven were the masters of competent shooters that all played alike. The one time they really got to stretch their creative muscles (Singularity)…

Anyway, these are not Retro Shooter Renaissance shooters. STAY ON TARGET

I remember playing the Quake demo on my 486 at like four FPS. The box said it only worked on Pentium though.

I always find the argument that ‘it used to be faster’ in 90s shooters to ring a little hollow. I honestly feel a lot of them were pretty slow paced, especially in combat. Doom spends too much of its time in corridors to give you much use of the mobility, which I mostly think was just a function of it being so flat due to limitations in the engine rather than a deliberate design choice.

Over-committing to zipping around in the open areas was often an invitation to get quickly cut down by the ‘hitscan bullshit’ you mention. You bemoan this as a modern feature whereas, in all honesty, I struggle to think of a 90s shooter which didn’t feature it heavily. I guess Quake spiced things up with the nailguns? All the build engine games had their fair share also if I remember right. In part what I mean is, say what you will about Doom Eternal, but it doesn’t lean much into hitscan at all, especially from enemies.

So, sure, you could move fast - usually when backtracking through empty areas you’d already cleared, and generally because you were trying to remember where you saw that health kit you didn’t need at the time but sorely do now since your health didn’t regenerate. :)

I’d say movement speed probably peaked in the late 90s, early 00s, generally as a result of overlooked physics exploits (good ol’ bunnyhop, RIP). The only games I’ve played since which would compare are Titanfall/Titanfall 2, but I guess we’re not considering MP titles.

I thought this thread would have more information on the recent surge of retro shooter.

Is Strafe any good?
Is Project Warlock any good?

I enjoyed Devil Daggers for a while, until I realized I wasn’t getting any better. Then it just turned into an exercise in frustration, and I learned to stop playing for the sake of my health.

I found this list of retro shooters on Steam compiled by someone:

Aliens versus Predator Classic 2000
Apocryph: an oldschool shooter
Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold
Blake Stone: Planet Strike
Blood: Fresh Supply
Blood II: The Chosen Expansion
Devil Daggers
DOOM (2016)
DOOM Eternal
Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour
Final DOOM
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders
HexeN: Beyond Heretic
HexeN: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel
HeXen II
Immortal Redneck
Ion Maiden (Ion Fury)
Master Levels for Doom II
Nightmare Reaper
Outlaws + A Handful of Missions
Painkiller: Black Edition
Painkiller: Recurring Evil
Painkiller: Resurrection
Painkiller Hell & Damnation
Painkiller Redemption
Painkiller Overdose
Project Warlock
QUAKE Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon
QUAKE Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity
QUAKE II Mission Pack: Ground Zero
QUAKE II Mission Pack: The Reckoning
Redneck Rampage
Redneck Rampage Rides Again
Rise of the Triad
Rise of the Triad: Dark War
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Serious Sam 2
Serious Sam 3: BFE
Serious Sam Classic: The First Encounter
Serious Sam Classic: The Second Encounter
Serious Sam Classics: Revolution
Serious Sam Fusion
Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter
Shadow Warrior (Classic)
Shadow Warrior Classic 1997
Shadow Warrior Classic Redux
Spear of Destiny
STAR WARS™ - Dark Forces
STRAFE: Millennium Edition
Super 3-D Noahs Ark
The Apogee Throwback Pack
The Original Strife: Veteran Edition
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Ultimate DOOM
Unreal Gold
Unreal 2: The Awakening
WRATH: Aeon of Ruin
Wolfenstein 3D
World War II: GI

I haven’t played new retro shooters but I have been replaying the actual old ones somewhat, not sure if that is appropriate for this thread. I’ve been playing a fair bit of Doom and Dark Forces lately. Also via GoG I picked up some lesser known titles like Strife and Blake Stone.

What can I say? I like those old games. It is pretty impressive how far the genre had developed by '98 (Unreal/Thief/Half-Life), though. That’s 5 years. Nowadays I can barely tell the difference between a new game and a 5 year old one. I mean, The Witcher 3 is five years old.


So far I’m enjoying it.

RPGs take much longer to make than shooters, so not apples to apples. Let’s see, shooters that came out 5 years ago, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Old Blood. Shadow Warrior. Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. So yeah, your point still stands.

The thread title made me think it would be appropriate, because otherwise how would it be “compleat”, but then scharmers clearly says actual old games aren’t part of the retro shooter renaissance. So maybe not?

I’d vote that actual retro shooters should absolutely be part of the conversation too.

I just stick to early Dooms. Having to aim vertically is a complication that took away my favourite part of the genre, which is to just vaguely aim and have stuff explode in guts. You grab keys to open rooms to explode more guts. When you are done you quit the game. Everything that came after is just busy work to me.

That reminds me, I’m playing through Doom 64 these days, and I’m having such a great time collecting yellow, blue and red keys.