40. Dolor - Mechadon (2017)
From the queasy vertigo of the rotating sky to the deep lighting contrast emphasizing islands of hellish glow in dark shadows, from the back-breaking horde fights to the frenetic boss battle, the final map of Counterattack is as brutal and sinister as they come – and it’s all painted in broad, masterful architectural strokes to create that patented jaw-dropping sense of scope that’s led so many of us to wonder if Mechadon is really human.
39. Vrack 3 - Fredrik Johansson (2003)
Each entry in Fredrik Johansson's "Vrack" series depicts a sprawling, shiny, superhitech techbase floating in space.....spacebases, if you will. Techspaces? Uh, anyway, during the early 00s the series was something of an institution, each entry more grandiose and detailed than the last, and as both a setting/theme and a general aesthetic brand the Vrackbase style has been widely influential on a wide variety of both contemporary and later authors (again, several appearing elsewhere on this list), and while Vrack 2 has seen the most direct spinoffs/homages it's the verve and visual style of its big brother, Vrack 3, which has continued to be a touchstone for representationalist sci-fi design to this day.
38. ZDoom Community Map Project 2 - Various (2013)
A group effort by almost thirty people, including many of the biggest names in the ZDoom community, this gargantuan map packs a small megawad’s worth of high-quality ZDoom-based content, including beefed-up weapons, just about every advanced port feature available in 2013, and more custom monsters than you can shake a stick at. Designed for fast pacing and a cinematic adventure tone, it delivers a truly epic journey to hell and back.
37. Disturbia - Death-Destiny (2009)
Death-Destiny's ode to "The Mucus Flow" builds on its spiritual predecessor with choreographed gameplay and sleek, angular techbase contours. It modernizes it, upping the intensity of the bloodshed by many multiples. Numerous core motifs remain: the supply stockpiles, the ubiquitous turrets, the all-too-real risk of ammo running dry. The battle feels like an endless siege, and the satisfying conclusion reaches the hell-corrupted underbelly of the planet. "THE LAND IS DISTURBED", the last display reads, and then you press the final switch.
36. Leave Your Sol Behind - skillsaw (2016)
Ancient Aliens Map16
With its dazzling colors and tense, fast-paced battles, Leave Your Sol Behind is quintessentially Ancient Aliens – but it’s a lot more than that too. This map has you hopping a UFO and riding to four distinct worlds: a high-tech space station, an icy planet, a molten planet, and the alien homeworld. A masterpiece of both storytelling and gameplay, it’s skillsaw at his finest.
35. Null Space - Russell Pearson (2001)
2001's "Null Space" stands as the grandaddy of the "voidscape" map theme, which is still flourishing to this day (indeed, keep your eyes peeled for this trope elsewhere on this list!). Author Russell Pearson was not, in fact, the first WADster to hit on the idea of using lighting and sector trickery to create the impression of a superstructure or structures free-floating in a void, but his stylish nether-fortress is one of the earliest and strongest examples to believably communicate the idea from top to bottom in a rich level design, making for an unforgettable and oft-tributed outing.
34. Doxylamine Moon - Lainos (2011)
Lainos may have reworked his breakthrough map several times, creating sequels and spiritual spinoffs, but the original remains one for the history books. While the concept of nearly monsterless maps wasn't unheard of, Doxylamine Moon presented an entire massive ghost town in a near-literal sense. Instead of clawing through hordes of demons the player explores a massive, near-empty map, looking for keys and figuring out progression. A lesser execution of this oddball Doom-meets-Myst experiment would be merely just another map prior to monster placement, but in Lainos's hands it outright revolutionized environmental storytelling. We don't know what the story is, but the faint hints spotted throughout the somber, moody city are gripping.
33. You Shall Not Pass! - Huy Pham (2008)
Deus Vult 2 Map22
Could Gandalf have held off 24 Balrogs without a BFG? Probably not, and neither can you, so you’ll have to start running. This map has you taking the long way around its grand central chamber, navigating platforms over lava and trying to clear out the opposition ahead of you as fast as you can to make it to the arsenal at the end of the map before you’re overtaken by your pursuers.
32. Toxin Refinery - NMN, Vader, Risen, and Nightmare (2007)
Knee Deep in ZDoom Z1M3
This map is the peak of everything people love and hate about KDiZD: the agony of backtracking and hallway grinding vs. the thrill of discovery, the haphazard use of custom monsters vs. the sense of variety and pacing one gets from mowing through those monsters, the cleverly/poorly considered use of port features. I’m probably supposed to express more grief over the hubris of it all, but I forgot because I was too busy having fun.
31. Run From It - Erik Alm (2003)
There are controversial maps and then there are universally despised maps. This one is firmly in the latter camp, because once the player crosses a certain point by their starting location, they're forced to literally "run from it" as an off-map crusher threatens to kill the player's voodoo doll doppleganger (and by proxy the player as well). This means the map has to be finished in roughly 28 seconds from the triggering event, otherwise the player "inexplicably" starts suffering massive damage and drops dead. Having to avoid some cheeky traps on the way to the exit only cements the map's status as one of the most hated gimmicks in Doom mapping!