From helping to pioneer the first-person shooter genre to impressive new game engines, the best id Software games are nothing short of revolutionary. From their origins, the Commander Keen franchise, and all the way to reinvent the wheel with the DOOM reboot, we’re going to go over the top id Software games ranked.
Founded in 1991, the first id Software games failed to meet fanfare. Everything changed with the releases of Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, and Quake in five years. While there have been some stumbles across the past 30 years, the best games from id Software are in a league of their own.
We review these rankings by using critical acclaim, fan response, and personal opinion. You may agree with our list, but you’ll probably disagree. Either way, keep the conversation going in the comments below.
Quake Champions Is Held Back by Microtransactions
(Metascore: 6.9 user score)
The Quake franchise is infamous for changing the formula with every release. The most recent game, Quake Champions, has the potential to be one of the best id Software games. Unfortunately, it’s the exact opposite.
The frustrations of a free-to-play game hold back the promising premise of Quake as a hero shooter. Various micro-transactions and loot boxes originally turned many people off.
There is a good game hiding somewhere in Quake Champions. Sadly, it not only has to overcome these issues, but the game also has a small player base.
Doom Rpg / Doom Rpg Ii Are Great Mobile Games
id Software games have a knack for delivering authentic experiences where you least expect them. DOOM RPG is one of those examples.
Rather than forcing DOOM onto the mobile platform, id Software adapts DOOM for mobile gaming. Turning the FPS into a turn-based RPG is a great success. A traditional DOOM game would never work on phones back in the day. Kudos to id Software for not just recognizing this but also making an excellent mobile game in the mid-2000s.
Wolfenstein Rpg Is an Authentic Experience for Your Phone
The one thing Wolfenstein RPG has over DOOM RPG is the style, and flair Wolfenstein is known for.
The core gameplay is the same, but Wolfenstein’s story, style, and lore help to put the game over the top. There’s black humor in the game that helps elevate it from being a simple reskin.
Orcs & Elves is an original mobile franchise that ranks alongside the best id Software games
Next on our list of id Software games ranked is their best mobile offering. Rather than re-tool an established franchise for the mobile platform, Orcs & Elves is a new IP.
The change to developing a new game world rather than re-tooling an existing one results in id’s best mobile game. The core foundation from DOOM RPG and Wolfenstein RPG is still present. The visuals, world design, and narrative are all fantastic.
Orcs & Elves was eventually ported from mobile devices to the Nintendo DS a year after release. The port’s biggest issue is that it’s a mobile game first and a DS game second. Not in terms of quality and gameplay, but the game’s visuals.
Rage Is a Risk From ID Software That Mostly Pays Off
Continuing our list of the best id Software games is another new IP from the studio.
2010’s RAGE is more than a showcase of id Tech 5. It represents a huge gamble from id Software as a developer. Beyond taking a chance with a new IP and world, RAGE also strongly focuses on its story and characters. While they don’t always work, the gameplay is incredibly solid and satisfying.
Much was made about RAGE leading up to release; people expected a Fallout/Borderlands style hybrid. While RAGE wasn’t anything like those titles, it’s far from a bad game.
Thanks to gorgeous visuals and solid as always FPS gameplay, RAGE is an underrated id Software game.
Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy Is a Classic ID Software Game
Before being known for shooters, id Software developed the Commander Keen franchise. Best known for 2D platforming, it’s a cult classic from the id Software catalog.
Goodbye Galaxy is the high point in the franchise. It has the foundation of the DOOM franchise (hunting down key cards) with a focus on precision platforming and challenging enemies. Commander Keen also leans heavily toward its sci-fi vibe and aesthetic, resulting in many creative environments, enemies, and designs.
Furthermore, the game’s difficulty offers a unique challenge compared to other platformers at the time.
Wolfenstein 3D helped birth the FPS genre
The granddaddy of the FPS genre, Wolfenstein 3D, is a massive achievement in gaming.
It takes the already enjoyable, albeit dated, experience with the Castle Wolfenstein games and gives them a much-needed facelift. The transition from old-school adventure to modern FPS results in one of the best id Software games.
While the developer would quickly date Wolfenstein 3D with subsequent titles, there’s no denying this game’s great experience.
Quake is a revolutionary FPS and one of the best id Software games
Speaking of subsequent titles, few games are as important to their genre as Quake. While Wolfenstein helped birth the FPS genre, DOOM refined it.
Quake took those foundations and polished them to an immaculate shine.
id Software crafts a fully realized world with, at the time, revolutionary graphics. The gameplay adds innew level of exploration and verticality that wasn’t always found in their previous games. It results in, yet again, another landmark title for both the genre and the studio.
DOOM 3 brings a new twist to the iconic franchise
DOOM 3 isn’t a bad game, but it still fails to meet its standards and expectations.
Focusing more on an atmospheric experience compared to past DOOM games, DOOM 3 combines horror with run-and-gun gameplay. The game also does a great job of showing off the, at the time, state of the art id Tech 3 engine.
Despite being a decisive entry in the franchise, DOOM 3 still has plenty of well-earned fans. It’s not afraid to try something new, and it pays off most of the time.
DOOM 3 Resurrection of Evil is a satisfying expansion
The expansion for Doom 3 helps address some of the original’s issues. Resurrection of Evil is a great follow-up that refines the core experience.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: the addition of a flashlight to see in the darkness is a beautiful and welcome addition.
Quake Live Gives an All-Time Great New Life
We switch franchises for the next game on our list of the best id Software games. Quake Live is more Quake III. If you’re a fan of multiplayer deathmatch arenas, what more could you possibly ask for?
There are essential quality of life updates and improvements over the core experience. Make no mistake, though; this is still the Quake III experience you know and love.
Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and Quake Live is living proof. It doesn’t provide the revolutionary and genre-defining experience as the original. It also doesn’t necessarily move the needle in the modern age of gaming. —none of these things needed to happen, however.
Quake Live is great as is, and we’re A-OK with that.
Quake II is one of many fantastic sequels on our list of id Software games ranked
The decision to forgo the gothic horror vibes of the original for a sci-fi theme in Quake II is a decision that pays off. It results in one of the best id Software games ever made.
Quake II still holds its own even today, thanks to gorgeous visuals and fast-paced action. The RTX update proves that the game can still hang today, giving it both new life and a new audience.
Enhanced storytelling and a killer soundtrack are both icings on the cake. Quake II is a great example of a developer making the most of the technology at the time. It’s a game that looks better than other titles that came out years after it.
While the Quake franchise has gone in different directions since the late 90s, many fans hope for a return to glory.
Quake Iii Arena Is One of the Greatest Multiplayer Games Ever
As great as Quake II is, Quake III Arena is the pinnacle of the Quake franchise.
The game truly changed the face of the multiplayer FPS genre forever. Every time you play a fast-paced arena shooter today, its inspirations come from Quake III.
Whether it’s the previously mentioned Quake Live remaster or the timeless original, the game still holds up today. Few other arena shooters can compete with the intense action and memorable gameplay moments.
For many, Quake III is more than one of the best id Software games. It’s a core gaming memory.
Doom Changed the Fps Genre Forever
Wolfenstein 3D helped invent the FPS genre. Quake helped perfect it. Yet they both don’t hold a candle to DOOM.
Between the fantastic level design, high octane gameplay, and killer soundtrack, DOOM is in a league of its own. It took the world by storm at release and continues to impress today.
The true beauty of DOOM is the simplicity of its design. There’s nothing complicated or complex about it. Players acquire powerful weapons and shoot the crap out of the hellspawn enemies. The best games don’t need many moving parts, and DOOM is a great example.
DOOM II proves that the original titles can top our list of id Software games ranked
Like Quake II, DOOM II polishes the original to an immaculate shine.
On the surface, the gameplay is more of the same. Once you get your hands on DOOM II, you quickly realize there’s more to it than that. Between new and enhanced enemies and a stronger weapon arsenal, id Software continues to prove they’re in a league of their own.
If the super shotgun was the only addition to the sequel, then that alone would result in a well-done job. Destroying the forces of hell has never been as satisfying as it is here. Like the original, DOOM II is a game you’ll want to play repeatedly.
DOOM Eternal is one of the best id Software games and a fantastic sequel
After the successful 2016 reboot, DOOM Eternal proves id Software is again at the top of its game.
While every new idea doesn’t quite work, such as using glory kills to regain ammo, there’s still a lot to love. The game’s pacing is arguably the best it has ever been in the series. Juxtaposing the run-and-gun gameplay with exploration and platform does well to let the game’s fast-paced moments shine.
DOOM Eternal also leans in more to the narrative side of things. Your mileage will vary in terms of your enjoyment of the story. It does well to stay in its lane and understand the lore of DOOM, but it also doesn’t hold the game back either.
DOOM (2016) tops our list of id Software games ranked
The best id Software game is their return to glory.
DOOM 2016 cranks it up to 11 from the start and refuses to take its foot off the gas. The old-school gameplay and level design, combined with modern visuals and mechanics, produce a true work of art. This version of DOOM is gory, beautiful, and one hell of a game.
id Software’s enemy design requires the player constantly be on the move. Hiding for cover results in nothing but trouble. The constant need to keep moving and take the fight to the enemy results in kill after beautiful kill; there’s never a doubt that you’ve killed a demon. They’re dead, and the game isn’t afraid to showcase the glory kills.
The strength of id Software games is the gameplay design. Even the worst titles from the developer are still a blast to play. Some of the games we ranked lower on this list can’t meet the lofty standards and expectations people expect from id Software.
How do you think we did on our list of the best id Software games? What would you change? Did we leave anything out? Keep the conversation going in the comments below, and thanks for reading!