60. Sanctuary of Filth - NaturalTvventy (2016)
No End in Sight E4M6
NEIS is full of wild surprises and experiments, but as evil as some of the maps are, there’s really nothing else that can prepare you for Sanctuary of Filth. Hounded by the game’s most powerful enemies and tangles of fodder monsters at every turn, you’ll be pushed hard as you scrape together much-needed resources and try to work out the many riddles of the map’s progression. It’s a combat puzzle par excellence.
59. Afterlife - Yonatan Donner (1997)
Hell Revealed Map26
One of the most iconic challenge-oriented WADs in Doom's history, 1997's Hell Revealed is remembered not just for what was to be a transformative slant on gameplay, but also for the colorful, quirky design of many of its more impressive levels. Yonatan Donner's "Afterlife" is perhaps the best embodiment of this whimsical sensibility. Centered on an oddly peaceful starry-void courtyard and a variety of surreal satellite locations ala a flickering green gazebo or a dreamy highway to....somewhere, the level is not only immediately striking with its setting but also inventive with its fights and progression, melding the set's characteristically fierce gameplay with a sense of playfulness communicated not only through what you see, but through what you do.
58. City of the Damned: Apocalypse - Tormentor667 (2011)
The death cult story may be cheesy as hell, but with so much effort poured into setting the mood and keeping the player’s power within realistic limits, CotD:A is a legitimately scary map. Scenes like the blood-drenched hospital and the carnival of horrors keep you on edge as you search for each scrap of ammo and try to guess where the next monster will pop out.
57. Arcadia Demade - JP LeBreton (2010)
A lot of professional level and map designers out there today got their start in Doom, but not very many of them start elsewhere, work for major game development studios, design maps for major titles, then go back to Doom and remake their professional work in an older medium, which is precisely what Bioshock level designer JP LeBreton did. Technical notability aside, the map uses a lot of cool tricks to recreate the creepy, lonely feel of an abandoned undersea garden, replete with palette changes and careful monster selection - the kind of thing we'd expect from an industry veteran.
Watch out for those "Houdini splicers!"
56. Toxic Touch - Kim Andre Malde (2002)
Alien Vendetta Map10
The map that popularized Duke 3D’s “Plasma” track in the Doom community was one of the greatest mood pieces of its time, lulling players with soft lighting gradients and gently flowing slimefalls. Though all of Alien Vendetta is about mixing beautiful architecture with challenging gameplay, Toxic Touch is the map that most emphasizes the contrast between the serenity of the location and the immediacy of the combat, which is probably why people still talk about it after all these years.
55. My Fav - Nanka Kurashiki (2016)
Japanese Community Project Map11
What do you get when you distill all of the playful spirit of JPCP into one map? How about a series of fruit-themed arenas, a player clone conducting a choir of demon eyes, light and enjoyable puzzles, and a pre-dessert CAPTCHA quiz that makes sure you’re human by checking whether you like Cacodemons? My Fav is as clever as it is colorful.
54. Citadel at the Edge of Eternity - Magikal (2003)
Community Chest Map29
Though Magikal's magnum opus boasts an impressive-looking titular fortress, many advanced (for the time) 3D bridge effects, and is beloved by some players, people tend to remember Community Chest's most iconic (for better or worse) offering for its gargantuan size and lengthy playtime more than anything else. If you're a believer in "bigger is better," this one may be right up your alley -- just keep in mind that the map title is a lot more literal than you might think.
53. Shadow Port - Joshy, esselfortium, and dew (2014)
Back to Saturn X E2 Map01
Looking out across the swirling ocean and taking in the hypnotic pulse of the lighthouse tower as stewboy’s music sets in, you could just about forget that you’re in a video game at all. Shadow Port is one of those rare maps that feels like you’re scratching the surface of a living world, and you could plumb all of its untold wonders and secrets if you could just figure out how to get through your computer screen.
52. Phocas Island 2 - chopkinsca (2006)
A ground-up "remake" of the '04 original, Chopkinsca's Phocas Island 2 stands the test of time as one of the most complete and well-realized examples of a full TC ('total conversion') using Doom as a jumping-off point, via the (G)ZDoom platform. Focusing on implied storytelling and a slow, reflective pace of play, PI 2 is much more of an adventure/puzzle game, closest in style to Hexen of the commercial idtech1 games but far more focused on ambience and exploration than even that most meandering of the idtech1 brood. With lush environments, countless secrets (including a 'second/full ending' path which nearly doubles the length of the game), and a genuinely compelling air of mystery throughout, this was a WAD well ahead of its time in more ways than one.
51. Alpha Scorpii Monument - antares031 (2018)
It’s tough to pick a favorite among Struggle’s signature deep blue alien hellscapes, but Alpha Scorpii Monument combines the best aspects of all of them. This stunning Misri Halek-inspired pyramid-fortress is deceptively peaceful, its soothing atmosphere lulling you into a sense of calm after the firestorms of the previous map. That doesn’t mean you can take it lightly, though.