HorrorScope Halloween: Doom – 23 Mods For Your Circle Of Hell
Conversion Mods – What Fresh Hell Is This?
As great as gameplay mods and map-packs are, sometimes you want something a little more coherent. A whole new experience, planned and constructed with all elements designed to support each other. A whole new Doom. Here are a handful of the best ‘big’ mods for the game released in the past five years, each one offering a new and interesting take on the classic formula:
Hands-down one of the best Doom mods released recently, Winter’s Fury is what a lot of people felt Doom 3 should have been like. It adds more cutscenes, more story, vastly more detailed environments and some interesting new enemy variants but without ever betraying the core design of the game. You’ll need a fairly modern PC to make this one sing, sadly, as GZDoom isn’t the best optimized piece of code out there, but it’s a must-play if you have the hardware.
The winter theme is used effectively, with ice-demons behaving slightly differently from their regular incarnations, and the open fields dotted with open-plan buildings make for a a new set of challenges. The soundtrack is pretty great too. While not the longest of adventures, Winter’s Fury is broken up into three classic Doom-style episodes, regularly punctuated with impressively varied boss fights. The final battle is an enormous knock-down, drag-out brawl that will burn through all your ammo several times over before the credits roll. A new and improved build was just recently released with better writing, more generous ammo placement and some balance tweaks.
Cold As Hell
Sharing a ‘frozen wasteland’ theme with Winter’s Fury, but otherwise a completely different beast. Cold As Hell leans much closer towards traditional survival horror gameplay with an almost lovecraftian tone overall, befitting its 1950s setting. Set in a remote US military research base in Greenland, you find the entire place completely abandoned on your arrival. Picking through the huge non-linear environments, you read diaries and notes, listen to audio logs and try and piece together what happened. Of course, there are monsters. Lots of them, and not nearly enough ammo to go around.
It’s a little rough and unpolished in places, but Cold As Hell feels like a very different sort of game to Doom. Huge swarms of enemies are to be avoided, rather than directly engaged, and every shot needs to be conserved until the final stretch of the story. Be prepared to fall back on the automap on a regular basis, as the levels are wide open and fully explorable, but this also means that it’s remarkably easy to get lost out in the featureless white plains that make up the spaces in-between buildings.
Riding that zeitgeist like a prancing pony, Reelism mashes up retro FPS gameplay, roguelike randomosity and wave-survival gameplay, resulting in something completely ridiculous. Your goal is simple: Survive several waves, then throw down with a boss. You can then brag to your friends and wave your questionably calculated score around. Unfortunately, you’re fighting inside a giant cosmic slot machine. Do you get stuck with melee weapons against a posse of wild west gunslingers, or given a tank and told to go nuts on a gaggle of harmless Bronies? Roll the dice.
Every round, the reels are spun, and the game declares three variables: Weapons, Enemies and a special modifier. High-tech energy weapons at dawn against an army of imps that explode on death? Fun times. At the end of each match, you get a random boss battle as well, the weirdest of which has to be the Dog Pope. It’s a dog, that is also the Pope, and is also full of bees that it shoots when it barks at you. It’s anarchic, stupid and hilarious.
The Ultimate Torment & Torture
Doom meets Quake, with a firm emphasis on the dramatic. While the heart of the gameplay remains mostly unchanged, this short series of very lengthy levels brings a boatload of new enemies and weapons to the party, along with a few new weapons to play around with. While some newer mods have since usurped it in terms of overall mapping quality, the attention to detail here is still exceptional. The gloomy texture pack used, combined with a solid soundtrack adds up to make for some great atmosphere.
One thing TuTNT does especially well is a sense of escalation. While the first chapter might feel roughly on par with the original Quake (albeit amped up a little – definitely with more enemies to deal with) the later levels contain some truly spectacular setpieces, including a massive joint assault on a demon-infested castle, backed up by a swarm of AI controlled marines. This release also contains a fifth ‘lost’ chapter, which isn’t part of the main story but is still well worth playing.
ZDoom Community Map Project
This huge collaborative community project is technically still in development (the latest Release Candidate build was released Dec 9th), but it gets a mention for its sheer quality already. This is what happens when many of the best mappers and modders in Doom history get together to work on one single level. The result is probably the single most intricately crafted level I’ve ever seen, with non-linear objectives and a huge number of new features, enemies, weapons and more. Easily as long as a full Doom episode (maybe 3-5 hours depending on how much you explore), this is probably the best example to date of what Doom is like today, here and now.
Despite the non-linear nature of the levels, it’s balanced well enough to give you a fighting chance no matter what route you pick, and this lends it a lot of replay value. What really elevates it to almost unheard-of levels of greatness is a full New Game Plus mode. After completing ZDCMP2, you can restart the adventure with all your equipment intact, but a whole new set of monsters to deal with, and maybe a new gun or two to really cut loose with. ZDCMP2 is effectively complete now, but the team behind it – perfectionists – are giving it one last polish and tuning pass.