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The most extreme gun violence in video games

If you haven't played video games in the past decade or two, you may be shocked to learn that some of them are extremely violent. Ever since the original Doom made first-person shooters a legit genre, we've been treated to countless games that have have — rather controversially — incorporated the killing of others in vicious ways. Shooters in particular put a focus on gun violence, and with time and improvements in graphical performance, these games have become increasingly more detailed and realistic.

In other words, we're not simply gunning down pixels anymore — we're blowing away bad guys in three stunning dimensions. And if the games aren't leaving us breathless due to their realism, they're creating moments that make us think.

We've assembled a list of some of the more violent gun games released in the past few generations. If you're a fan of bloodshed, you may want to put these titles on your to-play list. And if you're not? You can read all about how these titles push the boundaries in terms of the violence they contain.

Doom ups the ante in every way

Where other games might try to build a narrative around the player's character, the 2016 reboot of Doom instead centers the interesting plot bits outside the player's perspective. In Doom, you aren't the guy with the problem: you're simply the killing machine unleashed on the escaped demons of hell in order to clean up someone else's mess. Which means you don't need to wrestle with your decisions or put a lot of thought into how you're approaching the situation. You just need to kill.

And do you ever kill.

Doom puts a plethora of murderous devices within arms reach, including machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and more. You're encouraged to blast away at anything that crosses your path, and in a unique twist, you replenish ammo not by picking up packs off the ground, but by shooting enemies down to a shred of health before finishing them with a brutal melee attack. There are plenty of horrific enemies to run through, tons of weapons to use during your murderous rampage, and zero moments that ask you to feel even the least bit guilty.

If you like to shoot things in video games and watch them explode into gory bits, Doom is for you.

Spec Ops: The Line holds up a mirror to the whole shooter genre -- and to you

Military shooters are a dime a dozen, and we could have listed off a slew of Call of Duty or Battlefield titles and pointed to all the gun violence contained in those. But there's another game we believe fits the bill even better — one that not only puts a gun in your hand and asks you to do work, but forces you to face the consequences of what you've done and confront all the blood you've spilled. That game is Spec Ops: The Line.

Spec Ops stands out because it does the most to highlight the harsh realities of war, both physical and mental. There's a lot of shooting, of course, with headshots that drop enemies violently and turrets that rip into their targets with extreme force. But in your role as a US soldier, you're also asked to make uncomfortable decisions during Spec Ops' campaign that feel lose-lose — all while taking on a contingent of fellow US soldiers who've made a seemingly traitorous turn. The encounters are ugly, your decisions might scar you, and the game's twist will stay with you.

Spec Ops may be the one game on this list that uses its gun violence to make a point.

Borderlands 2 doesn't just have guns: it's about guns

To the uninitiated, the Borderlands series might look like a fun, cartoony shooter, a la Fortnite. And there is certainly plenty of humor to go around in the franchise. But if there's ever been a series that has revolved around the guns you acquire, it's Borderlands, and Borderlands 2 is the game that best represents that vision.

There are tons of guns in Borderlands 2. Guns across different classes. Guns you obtain by playing in the world. Guns you acquire by completing quests. There are handguns, shotguns, sniper rifles, sub machine guns, and an inventive array of other kinds. The game encourages you to go out and collect guns to use in various scenarios, and once you have them, you can do all of the killing you need to do a whole lot easier. And it should go without saying that you do a lot of killing in Borderlands 2, both to progress through the story and to level up your character.

Ask yourself this question: in what other title have you been asked by a character to shoot them in the faceBorderlands 2 has one of those, and it really speaks to what you'll experience throughout your time with the game.

Grand Theft Auto V brings gun violence to the neighborhood

The early Grand Theft Auto titles were certainly violent, but things really amped up once the series jumped into 3D with Grand Theft Auto III. The transition from a top-down to a third-person action game allowed for a more realistic world, and in that regard, Grand Theft Auto V is a realization of everything GTA III probably wanted to do but couldn't. Including its more accurate depiction of gun violence.

In Grand Theft Auto V, guns rule the world. They play a large part in the game's campaign and its missions, and you can shoot just about anyone or anything. Gunfire regularly erupts between warring factions, shootouts with police aren't an uncommon occurrence — hell, you can even shoot a guy in his car who just wants to get to work, or a cat who happens to be meandering down the sidewalk. All respond by dropping to the ground in a pool of blood with few repercussions for the player outside of an increased police presence. And what happens when the cops show up? You either try to get away, or you solve the problem the same way you created it: with more shooting.

There's a reason there's public outcry every time a new GTA game comes out: they're violent. And GTA V is the most violent by far.

Nowhere is safe in Saints Row 2

Gang wars in America are almost always fought with guns, and that doesn't change in the case of Saints Row 2. Much like the Grand Theft Auto series of games, Saints Row 2 is an open-world sandbox game that puts the player in control of all the action. You can choose where you go and how you approach the situation you're in — while following the campaign beats, of course. And much like GTA, you're quite often getting yourself out of a jam using your gun.

Where Saints Row 2 differs from Rockstar's monster series is its approach, which developer Volition tried to make a bit more jovial and over the top. In succeeds in some areas, but in others, the design choices in the game actually wind up making it extremely violent, especially when this 2008 title is viewed through today's lens. Shootouts take place on college campuses — something we'd likely see a bigger deal made about today — and even somber occasions like funerals aren't safe from assassination attempts in the SR2 world.

A new Saints Row game is reportedly in the works from the franchise's new owner, THQ Nordic. We await anxiously to see how that studio approaches things.

Gears of War 4's graphics are graphic

It's tough to find a grittier game series than Gears of War. The world in the Gears universe isn't the world we know — instead, it's a planet far from Earth, chosen by humans to keep the species from going extinct. But things didn't go to plan. Humans did what humans do best — they went to war against another, nearly destroying their new home in the process. And then the Locusts rose from beneath the planet's surface, sending the humans into battle all over again.

Gears of War 4 is the latest Gears game in the franchise, and thanks to the game's setting as well as its graphics — especially in 4K — it's the most violent. You're granted a healthy dose of human weapons to choose from, as well as any guns you pick up from the Locusts you mow down. And then there's the chainsaw gun — a deadly tool that can go from firing at enemies to sawing them in half in no time. Those you catch in a flurry of bullets are torn apart by them, heads explode when struck by gunfire, and again — you can saw your enemies. It's all incredibly graphic, brought to photorealistic life by Unreal Engine 4.

Resident Evil 7 panics you into violence

Resident Evil 7 makes an appearance in this roundup even though guns aren't as prevalent as they are in, say, GTA. Like the RE games of yore, ammunition is extremely hard to come by in this installment, which means you're only pulling out your firearm when you desperately need to neutralize a threat. And since a threat could lurk right up around the next corner, or could burst through the door when you're least expecting it, RE7 leaves you feeling constantly on edge.

It's this feeling, along with the eeriness of the setting and the weapons you have at your disposal, that makes Resident Evil such a violent game. Whether you're using a pistol, a shotgun, or a flamethrower, you're often firing away in a panicked state after being happened upon by an enemy. And once you've shot your way through your target or burned them into a still-smoldering heap, you're left alone with a corpse, the quiet, and an opportunity to absorb what just occurred.

Gun violence in games doesn't always come in the form of a large-scale shootout. Sometimes it happens before you realize what you've done.

RAGE is the culmination of id Software

John Carmack's last ride at id Software came in the form of 2011's RAGE, a first-person shooter set in a devastated near-future earth. Carmack made a name for himself decades earlier as a co-creator of the original Doom, and in a way, RAGE showed off exactly how far video games had come in that span of time. Instead of what one might consider barely 3D these days, RAGE was a full-on open world title with light RPG mechanics, vehicles, and of course, a bunch of weapons for dealing with foes. After all, one can't possibly hope to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland without weapons, right?

Given its ancestry, it should come as no surprise that RAGE is an incredibly violent game, and the benefits of the id Tech 5 game engine only serve to highlight this violence. Players can use pistols, machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and even turrets to tear into enemies, with each bullet causing visible damage to its victim. You can even shoot an enemy as they slump to the ground, slowing their fall. And if you use a crossbow to put an arrow into your opponent, it stays — almost as a warning to those who might cross your path in the future.

RAGE isn't for the feeble. If you hate guns, you'll probably hate RAGE.

Quake III: Arena is pure blood and adrenalin

It would feel like a mistake to forget about Quake III: Arena, id's 1999 entry into the Quake franchise. Arena focused primarily on multiplayer, which means there was no campaign with a story to tell. Instead, your only option was to jump into various deathmatch maps to do harm against any and all comers, whether they be AI-controlled bots or those you matched up against over LAN or the Internet.

Quake III: Arena might look graphically dated to those who have played more recent shooters, but we'd be remiss not to recognize it for the mature tone it brought both to PCs and consoles. There were guns aplenty laid out all over the map for use against your opponents, and sending a well-placed rocket into the body of an enemy sent arms, legs, and torsos flying in several different directions. And the blood. When you made your way through a blood-drenched corridor in Quake III: Arena, you knew some terrible things had just happened there, and it put you on alert.

Arena's gore might not have the detail of today's games, but it certainly helped get the ball rolling for everything that came after it.