With 2016’s Bethesda release Doom hanging out just just over the horizon, it’s been a good time to get back into the old boots ‘n’ shotgun to take on some evil undead hordes. Replaying id Software’s classic series always yields exciting rewards upon revisit, and this time I’ve really delved into the modding side of things.
I’ve always been aware that Doom has one of the most impressive modding communities around, but there is something to be said for a community that is still hard at work cracking and remaking a video game that was released in 1993. The developers originally made access to editing the game a very easy line in with .wad files, and that open invite to its community is still being rewarded almost 25 years later.
As I plowed into gigantic databases of game changing modifiers and fan made levels, everything from the last few years seemed to point toward a single must-have mod that I’d never taken a chance on before, which in retrospect, seems heretical. Everyone needs to take Brutal Doom for a spin.
Brutal Doom is the product of Brazilian programmer Marcos Abenante who released the first version in 2010 and who has continuously made upgrades and improvements since then. The newest incarnation features a 32-level map pack and campaign that tells the story of the demons bursting out into Los Angeles. Most fan-made campaigns take place back on Mars or in the depths of hell, the two main locations from the first game, but this Earth-based setting is created using an elaborate series of texture packs that really go above and beyond what Doom should be capable of producing. All maps have continuous progression, starting where the previous map ended, giving a feeling of a big adventure instead of just random maps placed in a megawad. Maps that take place on Earth even have daytime progression (first map starts at dawn, second map at noon, third and fourth maps in different parts of dusk, next map is at night, and so on).
And while there’s such an intense focus placed on lighting and world design, the real joy of Brutal Doom is how it reinvents the entire game. Everything is bigger, louder, faster, and much bloodier. If you thought Doomguy moved at an inhuman speed before, it is nearly double that now. The melee system has been readjusted to make punching (and the added kick feature) a viable secondary attack. Plus, it adds unique gibes, death animations, dismemberments, head shots, executions, fire and explosion particles, flares, shadows over all objects, and the ability to push objects — which opens up an entire world of puzzle design.
On a lower artistic note, you can also do this:
This equal dedication of time and effort between making shadows more impressive and making bits of flesh effectively paint the walls sort of sums up the entire experience of being a Doom fan. There’s a degree of artisanship in the tweaking of each small gameplay element and a sense of scale that the world building requires to offset the fact that the player came here to saw dog monsters in half with a chainsaw. You have to make it a very artful dog monster chainsawing or else it just seems silly.
It’s easy to see how these rebalancing efforts have actually influenced the new Doom, especially the functional melee system and finishing moves which take up a good portion of the latest trailer. Which is such an appropriate move for the series to turn. In 1993, Doom invited its fans to edit the game and make it something greater. In 2016, Doom is using everything those fans created to give them a finished product that is less sequel than culmination.