My Journey Into Hell: A DOOM Retrospective, Part 3

Avatar image for igort
Igort

28

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By Igort

DOOM Eternal got delayed.

Oh well, leaves me more time to play through some fan-made Doom WADS.

Grabbing GZDoom to play through the original two Doom games turned out to be more of a blessing than I had originally realized. I’m useless with computers, and I also have an incredibly short attention span. When it comes to downloading mods for games, I tend to get frustrated too easily unless the process is relatively simple. The beauty of Doom and GZDoom is that the “process” of installing a mod isn’t even a process at all. You download the WAD, you drag and drop onto GZDoom, and you’re done.

So the first WAD I started with was Going Down.

Going Down kicked the shit out of me.

Going Down made me realize I wasn’t anywhere near as good at Doom as I thought I was.

So Classic Doom has five levels of difficulty. Now I’ve become a little more entrenched in the Doom fandom I’ve come to realize two things: One; Of those five difficulty levels, Ultra-Violence, the one below the highest difficulty, is considered the way to play. The second thing I realized was that Doom WADs are generally made as a way to push skilled players with incredibly difficult, intense maps.

When I previously played through Doom and Doom II, I had only been playing on the normal, standard difficulty. In other words: I was in no way prepared for how vigorously fan made Doom WADs were going to brutalize me. Even playing through Going Down on the normal difficulty was crushing me. When I got to around Level 21, a level in which they take all of your weapons away and then throw this at you, I realized I was in way over my head.

Thankfully I found with Doom that I was having an experience I’ve never really had with video games before. I typically only play through games on the “normal” difficulty. Rarely do I push through to the harder difficulty settings, not because I’m not interested in being challenged, but because I like to appreciate as much of the game as possible without the games difficulty getting in the way. As Going Down repeatedly kicked my ass, I found myself relishing the challenge. I don’t think there’s a better feeling in all of video games then running into a furiously difficult encounter in Doom, thinking there is no way you’ll be able to pass, then conquering it through sheer skill and determination.

I imagine this is how people who enjoy Dark Souls feel.

Anyway, I replayed Doom 1 and Doom 2 on Ultra-Violence so I could get really good, so I could understand the baseline with which these people were creating their challenging WADs.

After Going Down, I figured I should check out John Romero’s SIGIL, which was part of the reason why I wanted to get into classic Doom in the first place. I enjoyed Sigil, but it felt a little stale compared to what I had experienced in Going Down. The levels look astonishing, but I found myself getting a little tired of it pretty quickly. It’s difficult definitely felt frustrating an experience I wasn’t having with every other set of Doom levels.

After that, I pressed on into Eviternity, which might be one of my favourite gaming experiences of the year.

The beauty of Doom’s combat largely lies in the enemy variety combined with your available arsenal. All of the enemies fit together and fulfill specific roles in such a way that every encounter needs to be approached differently depending on what enemies your facing and what weapons you have at your disposal. The whole thing feels like puzzle pieces being fit together in slightly different ways but still providing a vivid picture. When they designed Doom 2016, they referred to the combat of Doom as “combat chess.”

Eviternity is made by a group of modders who understand this balance incredibly well. Not just this, but the game provides a few new enemy varieties (all based on existing enemies) which manage to complement the existing enemy group without feeling out of place or like it disrupts the delicate balance. The mod is also built using new texture maps, so the levels themselves have a wildly different atmosphere than the base Doom levels do. A good example of this is Level 15, a colossal castle in the middle of a snow-swept landscape. Astonishing stuff.

All-in-all my journey into the world of fan-made Doom WADs has only made me appreciate Doom even more, a feat I didn’t think was actually possible. Earlier in the year myself and a friend were talking about Tetris, a game we’ve become obsessed with since the release of Puyo Puyo Tetris on Switch, and then with the release of Tetris Effect and Tetris 99. As we were talking, I analogised our new found appreciation for Tetris as being like one day actually noticing a painting or photograph hanging in your childhood home and suddenly taking the time to appreciate how wonderful it is. Now, looking at my newfound appreciation for Doom feels the exact same way.

My list of Doom WADs to dive into next is long, but my next stop is No End In Sight, built by a team of modders trying to capture the feel of the original Doom’s level design.

My question for you guys this time: my experience with Doom’s difficulty felt rather unique for me, but has there ever been a game that you felt compelled to replay on higher difficulties? Did pushing through to that higher difficulty make you appreciate the game more? Let me know in the comments!

Avatar image for shagge
ShaggE

9392

Forum Posts

5

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

@igort: Oh man, welcome to the world of Doom content, haha. Be sure to check out some gameplay mods, too... Brutal Doom/Project Brutality are musts to at least experience once. Bloom (a mashup of Blood and Doom) is absolutely incredible, although it's just a demo right now. Reelism is unabashedly stupid, and a joy to mess around with.

... Then there's Grezzo 2. I'm not going to recommend Grezzo 2. But I'll namedrop it here, and what you do with that lead is up to you. (seriously though, it's just a batshit insane Italian mod that's hilariously over-the-top in its offensiveness. It's bad, but it's fascinating and admittedly sorta fun)

Avatar image for doublecakes
DoubleCakes

40

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Going Down is an amazing megawad, my favourite in fact, but it's so hard. Evilternity and No End In Sight are more manageable and even they are a step up from Plutonia, which is the hardest out of the official wads.

@igort said:

My question for you guys this time: my experience with Doom’s difficulty felt rather unique for me, but has there ever been a game that you felt compelled to replay on higher difficulties? Did pushing through to that higher difficulty make you appreciate the game more?

I still need to get back to Persona 5 and try a harder difficulty. I feel like I didn't connect with the game's systems deep enough because I played on "Normal" or something. One of the main reasons I play on harder difficulties with most games is because I want to feel pushed towards interacting with more systems.

Games like Final Fantasy VI and VII (which are games I love) aren't showing all their cards on their default difficulty. By playing thos games with hardtype mods, it reveals a lot of systems and mechanics that the game is normally too tepid to highlight. You want the skill ceiling to be very high so that your mastery of a game's systems is rewarded.

Actually speaking of Doom I replayed Doom 2016 recently and turned up the difficulty this time around. I wasn't sure I could do it because I'm playing on PS4 with a controller but I had a decent time and I might play on Nightmare next.

Avatar image for igort
Igort

28

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@shagge said:

Oh man, welcome to the world of Doom content, haha. Be sure to check out some gameplay mods, too... Brutal Doom/Project Brutality are musts to at least experience once. Bloom (a mashup of Blood and Doom) is absolutely incredible, although it's just a demo right now. Reelism is unabashedly stupid, and a joy to mess around with.

... Then there's Grezzo 2. I'm not going to recommend Grezzo 2. But I'll namedrop it here, and what you do with that lead is up to you. (seriously though, it's just a batshit insane Italian mod that's hilariously over-the-top in its offensiveness. It's bad, but it's fascinating and admittedly sorta fun)

I like Brutal Doom as a concept more than I enjoy actually playing with it. I think it's just a little too over the top for me. Bloom I might check out, though I never played any of the Build Engine games outside of Duke 3D so it might be a little lost on me. Reelism sounds ridiculous and I'd never heard of it so I'll absolutely give it a shot. And Grezzo 2 I will do some more research on, haha!

Going Down is an amazing megawad, my favourite in fact, but it's so hard. Evilternity and No End In Sight are more manageable and even they are a step up from Plutonia, which is the hardest out of the official wads.

I have heard so much about Plutonia, and a YouTuber I'm a big fan of called Civvie did a vid on it that put the whole thing into context for me. I should probably get around to playing it at some point.

I still need to get back to Persona 5 and try a harder difficulty. I feel like I didn't connect with the game's systems deep enough because I played on "Normal" or something. One of the main reasons I play on harder difficulties with most games is because I want to feel pushed towards interacting with more systems.

Games like Final Fantasy VI and VII (which are games I love) aren't showing all their cards on their default difficulty. By playing thos games with hardtype mods, it reveals a lot of systems and mechanics that the game is normally too tepid to highlight. You want the skill ceiling to be very high so that your mastery of a game's systems is rewarded.

Actually speaking of Doom I replayed Doom 2016 recently and turned up the difficulty this time around. I wasn't sure I could do it because I'm playing on PS4 with a controller but I had a decent time and I might play on Nightmare next.

I never really thought about it in that way, the idea of playing on harder difficulties to feel pushed towards the games mechanics and systems. I definitely can see the appeal behind that higher skill ceiling making the experience more rewarding. I often feel torn because I can get frustrated quite easily, especially if I'm new to a game and am still learning how it works and what it wants from me.

Doom 2016 is a game I've only played on the standard difficulty. I should go back and do the harder ones. Sounds like it might be worth it.

Avatar image for shagge
ShaggE

9392

Forum Posts

5

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

#4  Edited By ShaggE

@igort: Ah man, if you ever get a chance, check out Blood. It's maybe my favorite FPS of all time, and a shining example of how great the Build engine truly was. That said, it's the Dark Souls of shooters, hahaha. 22 years of playing it and it still kicks my ass sometimes.

Avatar image for doublecakes
DoubleCakes

40

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@igort said:

I never really thought about it in that way, the idea of playing on harder difficulties to feel pushed towards the games mechanics and systems. I definitely can see the appeal behind that higher skill ceiling making the experience more rewarding. I often feel torn because I can get frustrated quite easily, especially if I'm new to a game and am still learning how it works and what it wants from me.

If I'm willing to put a surplus amount of time in a game I might play on an easier difficulty to understand the scope and idiosyncrasies before tackling a hard mode, so that way I know where the frustrations lie (at least, ideally), but the time cost is a problem, I realize.