Have you ever felt the sudden urge to discard a mapped-out story in exchange for something a little more, say, bullet-infested? Say you’ve just spent fourteen hours exploring a historical city filled to the brim with intense lore and anthologies worth of backstories and world events. You’ve loved every moment, of course, but you’re most definitely feeling that familiar itch in the back of your neck. An itch that just makes you want to, I don’t know, shoot something. Say, in a first-person shooter, perhaps?
We’ve all felt that urge to swap worlds in the past, just the same as we’ve enjoyed the sudden change of pace as we sunk into new shoes. And first-person shooters truly are a fantastic way to blow off steam for a short while, even if it’s just a temporary stopover before getting back on track with the original conquest. Just take these five crazy shooters for example. They’re in no way shape or form demanding, or even all that difficult to play. But they are, however, riddled with insanity, explosions, and a whole lot of bullets. Just what the doctor ordered.
Bulletstorm is pretty much an ideal combination of fast-paced combat and easy-to-follow storytelling, with perhaps a slight dash of compelling character design jarred between the two. Of course, in a nutshell, it is basically your button-mashing free-for-all frenzy with a few additional quirks. Encased within that nut, however, is one heck of a ride with more twists and turns than your box-standard shooter.
Taking on the role of Grayson Hunt, a war-focused pirate with a hunger for flesh, bullets and a fistful of revenge, you’re ultimate goal is to seek out your former commander, known for using you and your squad as pawns for crimes against humanity. To reach the summit and put a stop to the unhinged corruption that flows from the former commander and his flagship settlement, however, you’ll first have to plough though armies of weird and wonderful intergalactic humanoids. You know — as you do.
Combine the likes of Borderlands with a cluster of DOOM material, and you’ve got yourself the basic premise of RAGE, an equally as crazy shoot-em-up with all the bells and whistles to stack just as high as its other siblings in the genre. And, being spread out over multiple discs on launch, you pretty much had oceans of explosive action in the palm of your hand, all buttered over a litter of jam-packed quests and activities.
While RAGE took a rather steep decline after dishing up its second instalment, the original chapter still managed to hold a pretty tight spot among the greatest first-person shooters ever developed. And for good reason, too. It was flawless through and through. Quests were wild and plentiful, combat was downright addictive and well-paced, and almost every element it drew up somehow managed to align with all the appropriate boxes one would expect to see on a first-person shooter checklist. Simple.
3. Borderlands 2
After storming the world with its perfect concoction of humour and hellfire, Gearbox pretty much ramped up the madness by a few hundred degrees, bringing a second instalment way past boiling point. And as far as sequels went, Borderlands 2 pretty much cracked it. And it wasn’t just the second round of characters that amplified the hype either. In fact, it was everything. From the fresh take on the Pandoran world to the bolder mission sets and activities — Borderlands 2 brewed it like a fine wine, and nothing has come quite as close to meeting par since its royal conception.
Anyone who has ever touched a pad will understand the hype for Gearbox’s comic book-style creation. It has a little something for everyone, with toes dabbling in an entire collection of genres as opposed to just one. It’s hilarious for one, and most definitely a homage to Gearbox’s wacky library of one-liners and quips. And then, of course, it’s well tuned in terms of fluid gameplay, and overall an addictive piece of art that never fails to bring a few smiles to the room. In a nutshell, though — it’s an incredible way to just unwind by mindlessly shooting things in the face.
2. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Mounds of bullets and war machines aside, Wolfenstein has been pretty consistent with its engaging narrative and overall character development these past however many years. Maybe discarding the recent Youngblood entry, of course — but consistent nonetheless. And for that reason alone, selecting just one chapter in the timeline of ground-breaking hits hasn’t exactly been made a doddle.
While we could easily discuss which game delivered the superior story and gameplay, we’ll instead just put our opinion out on the table. And in this case, we’re talking The New Colossus, the second major tale that went on to round off the beloved William “B.J.” Blazkowicz’s war-heavy conquest across the Nazi frontlines. With his lengthy battle across rail, sky and sea, the journey pretty much encapsulated a Hollywood movie within a video game, putting us at the front row for every featured scene and struggle. And it was beautiful.
Yes, of course, it’s DOOM. 2016’s DOOM, to be more specific. And while we could’ve quite easily have plastered every entry to the critically acclaimed series on this list, with the last five releases filling this entire article — it just wouldn’t have felt right to discard the other contenders. And so, from our point of view, DOOM 2016 has to steal the podium. At least in this instance. But chances are you’ll more than likely agree if you too have powered through the bullet-busting extravaganza? Right?
The great thing about DOOM, as a franchise, is that it pretty much gets away with everything, and nobody really bats an eyelid. No in-depth story? No problem. Just fill it with end-to-end combat and explosions, heavy weapons and brutal finishers. What more could you possibly want, right? It’s both riddled with nostalgic material and extremely satisfying gameplay through and through, and the 2016 sequence was perhaps one of the greatest first-person shooters ever built for the series. Heck, they’re all worthy of such a title, to be honest. But in this case, we’re strapping the gold to DOOM 2016.