50. Dissolution - Lutz (2003)
Phobos: Anomaly Reborn E1M3
Lutz has always been the undisputed master of reimagining what the IWAD maps could have been, and this map (and P:AR in general) broke all kinds of ground, using Boom features and reduced limits to do things that Doom mappers could only dream about before: intricate sector detailing, tons of ragged blast damage, enormous rooms, secrets hidden in deep pools of slime. And then, of course, there’s the moment when every new player was like, “Wait, I can actually go up inside the crane?”
49. Happy Time Circus II - shitbag (2009)
2009's Happy Time Circus II is the sordid tale of a nameless traveler whose car breaks down on some nondescript country backroad, compelling him to walk towards the nearest town in search of aid. Upon reaching the outskirts, he finds nothing but eerie desolation, and a few flyers advertising that evidently the circus has recently come to town. Madness ensues. One of the most complex and convincing town/city ZDoom maps of its day, HTC II takes a colorfully schlocky pool of influences and a general concept which is frankly absurd (or euphorically stupid, even) and twists it into something more simultaneously menacing, oppressive, and thrilling than it has any right to be, a detour not to be missed by fans of macabre atmosphere.
you'll float TOO
48. The Ruins - Roger Ritenour (1998)
It’s been a long time since 1998, and jaded Doomers are wont to look down on Earth for its highly simplistic gameplay and visual design. But those of us who have been around since a time when the mapset was a plausible favorite will never forget how serene that opening shot is, with the waves crashing up against the shore below and “Stand by Me” playing in the background.
47. Jade Earth - Jodwin (2010)
A dizzying plunge deeper, deeper, and ever deeper into the dark secret at the dead heart of a lost UAC facility buried deep within the planet's mantle, Jade Earth is the quintessential "megamap", a single level so rich and expansive in structure and progression as to read more like a full episode in its own right than as a single conventionally sized map. Vast levels replete with ideas/content are a fixture as old as PWADing itself, of course, but Jodwin's painstakingly wrought, finely balanced and expertly paced magnum opus achieves a sense of thematic cohesion and deep immersion that has seldom been equaled (or even attempted).
Aliens TC E2M1/E2M2
Early Doom players must have really been caught off guard by the opening maps of Fisher’s TC, which are all about the slow, suspenseful buildup to your first encounter with the aliens. Completely devoid of enemies for what seems like ages, the maps keep you alert, uncertain, and very alone, warily approaching every flickering light and rounding every corner with your gun ready until you finally reach the disturbing abattoir of the alien tunnels and everything explodes into action.
45. Afterlife 2 - Erik Alm (2005)
Scythe 2 Map27
What used to be the last map in Scythe 2 (before it was finished off later by Mr. Alm in a second release), this map is a long, winding castle with hellish, lava-filled expanses and red-sky-backed vistas, under the watchful eye of a terrifying wall monster that relentlessly throws homing rockets and giant fireballs at you in the main corridor. One slaughterfest after another, this map is an amazing example of creating an environment that dares the player to keep moving forward and not stay comfortable for long. Did I mention that "Dancing Mad" from Final Fantasy VI is playing in the background the entire time?
44. Warp of Time - Eternal (2009)
Hell Ground Map04
The most surreal and dreamlike map in Russian wunderkind Eternal's masterpiece of dreamlike surrealism Hell Ground (i.e. "what if Plutonia were a fever-trip"), "Warp of Time" is more of a journey through alternate dimensions entirely than through different time periods per se. Actually very loosely based in concept on a map from Alien Vendetta aptly named "Killer Colours", Warp of Time begins with the protagonist wandering through featureless 'tunnels' between realities before stumbling upon a dimensional nexus of sorts, housing four gates to four strange planes, each with its own dominating color and distinctive architectural sense, and in sum an unforgettable testament to Doom's potential as a canvas for worlds of pure imagination.
43. Putrefier - Ed Cripps (2012)
Ed’s crowning masterpiece stunned the community when it was first released by showcasing the best of what was possible in GZDoom mapping at the time – not to mention a lot of things that didn’t seem like they should be possible at all. Offering up a deep, deep sense of immersion and realism, the map is probably best remembered for a couple of fleshy hell-growths that are a little more…active than you might expect. Even in 2018, it’s still the best Quake 2 map ever made.
42. Festering Wicked Helix Sectors - Joshy (2014)
Originally conceived as a Secret Santa map emulating Xaser’s mapping style, Helix Sectors ended up being “that one map” that took people’s breath away when Resurgence was released. Chalk it up to the go?rgeous music, the brooding atmosphere, the thought-provoking layout, the time-travel storyline, and the way the final arena’s geometry unfolds on a huge scale in preparation for the climactic battle.
41. Chord 3 - Malcolm Sailor (2000)
Malcolm Sailor's Chord series, though short, is arguably one of the most significant in the long history of PWADs, with both gameplay and aesthetic stylings that have been heavily influential on later WADmasters, past and present, who have been or are themselves greatly influential. There's a strong argument to be made for each of the Chords about which is the best, but for my money it's Chord 3 (actually 5th/final in the series), which combines a gorgeous hell-manor setting and truly grueling action, akin to the relentless pacing of the original Evil Dead film.